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Private Passions

BBC Radio 3

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Followers
19
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Private Passions
Private Passions

Private Passions

BBC Radio 3

19
Followers
19
Plays
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About Us

Guests from all walks of life discuss their musical loves and hates, and talk about the influence music has had on their lives

Latest Episodes

Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell was still a teenager, living in Australia, when he started on what has been a long and headline-grabbing career of political protest. He was only fifteen when he began campaigning against the death penalty, and in support of aboriginal rights. At the age of seventeen, he realised he was gay, and the struggle for gay rights became his increasing focus: he was a leading activist in the Gay Liberation Front in the 1970s, and, more recently, a campaigner for same-sex marriage. He gained international celebrity for his attempted citizen's arrest of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in 1999 and again in 2001, on charges of torture and human rights abuses. Beaten by Mugabe’s bodyguards, he suffered permanent eye and brain damage. He has also been beaten up by Neo-Nazis in Moscow, and held in prisons across the world. He says, ruefully: “I’m the master of the motorcade ambush”. One of his tactics has been literally to run into the road and throw himself in front of offic...

34 MIN5 d ago
Comments
Peter Tatchell

Deborah Levy

Deborah Levy was born in South Africa; when she was five, her father was arrested as a member of the ANC and spent four years in jail. The family left for England, arriving when Deborah was nine, in 1968. Unsurprisingly her work as a writer is concerned with themes of identity, exile, dislocation. Beginning as a poet and a playwright – her plays were staged by the RSC – she then turned to novels, and there are now seven in all, of which the last three have been nominated for the Booker Prize. The latest is ‘The Man Who Saw Everything’. Deborah talks with Michael Berkeley about the music that means most to her. Many of the pieces she loves are to do with saying farewell: Lotte Lenya saying ‘goodbye’ in Brecht and Weill’s Alabama Song; Orpheus pining for Euridice in Kathleen Ferrier’s legendary recording of Gluck’s ‘Che Faro?’; sisters wishing their lovers safe travel as, purportedly, they depart for war, in the trio from Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. Deborah talks openly about her memories of her father’s imprisonment and of his return home; about the enormous transition in her life when, aged fifty, her marriage ended; and about how she found a room of her own in which to write, renting a friend’s garden shed and working to the noise of apples dropping onto the roof. Also among her music is Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata (‘the silences are as important as the notes’); a song by Leonard Cohen; and a translucent setting of a Verlaine poem, ‘La Lune Blanche’, composed by Billy Cowie and sung by identical twins. Produced by Elizabeth Burke A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

36 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Deborah Levy

Jock Stirrup

Lord Stirrup, former Chief of the Defence Staff, talks to Michael Berkeley about his passion for music from Renaissance motets to twenty-first-century opera. Jock Stirrup was lucky to survive when a bird hit one of the engines of his Jaguar jet in 1983. With the cockpit glass obscured and one engine on fire, he chose not to eject from the plane, but to try to land it to save the life of his student pilot. For this he was awarded the Air Force Cross. This calm under pressure served him well as he rose through the ranks of the RAF, commanding forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and becoming Chief of the Defence Staff – the head of all the UK’s armed forces – until his retirement in 2011. A member of the Order of the Garter, he now sits as a cross-bencher in the House of Lords and has spoken critically about the regime in Russia and equipment shortages for troops in Iraq. He talks to Michael about the pressures of commanding forces, dealing with casualties, and speaking out on behalf of the men and women in the armed forces. Less well known is Jock Stirrup’s lifelong love of classical music. Now he’s retired he spends as much time as he can listening to music live, and he’s chosen pieces that span five centuries and many genres – a motet by Josquin Des Prez, music by Bach and by Mendelssohn, part of George Benjamin’s 2012 opera Written on Skin, and music from Die Walküre, illustrating the passion he’s had for Wagner from his schooldays. Producer: Jane Greenwood A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

34 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Jock Stirrup

Siri Hustvedt

It’s hard to sum up the extraordinary reach of Siri Hustvedt’s work. On the one hand, there are popular novels such as What I Loved and The Summer Without Men, which became international best-sellers and were translated into thirty languages. But underpinning her six novels there’s an impressive body of philosophical exploration – about Freud, neurophysiology, painting. Then there’s her own art work: Siri Hustvedt illustrates many of her own books. She has published a volume of poetry, and she’s also a lecturer in Psychiatry at Cornell Medical College. She lives in New York with her husband, the writer Paul Auster. In Private Passions, Siri Hustvedt admits that she enjoys being hard to pin down, because much of her work is about identity and how it shifts across a lifetime. She reflects on her own youth in New York, where she was so poor that she ate by cruising bars during “Happy Hour” and eating the free snacks. She reveals too that she has neurological episodes where she loses consciousness, sees auras, and sometimes visions and voices. She admires the visionary composer Hildegard of Bingen, and also composer Meredith Monk, who is pushing the human voice to the limit in "Scared Song". Other choices include Mozart’s Don Giovanni, John Cage’s Sonata V, Webern’s Six Pieces for Orchestra, and Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’Ete. Produced by Elizabeth Burke A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

33 MINSEP 15
Comments
Siri Hustvedt

David Cannadine

David Cannadine describes himself as “staggeringly lucky”: he found what he wanted to do early in life, and it has rewarded him richly. He is one of our most distinguished historians; his period is the 19th and early 20th century, and he’s written more than twenty books, on Churchill, on class, on the aristocracy - among many others. He’s the editor of the Dictionary of National Biography and the President of the British Academy, and a frequent broadcaster on Radio 4. He was knighted for services to scholarship in 2009. But perhaps the most surprising thing about David Cannadine is that although he was born in Birmingham and his historical research focuses on Britain, he himself lives in America; he’s spent ten years at Columbia University and is currently Professor of History at Princeton. In Private Passions he reflects on how his trans-Atlantic life changes his perspective, and enables him to see both Britain and the US as foreign countries. Although he’s now at the heart o...

28 MINSEP 8
Comments
David Cannadine

James Ellroy

James Ellroy has been dubbed the ‘demon dog of American crime fiction’, a label he relishes. His crime novels, fifteen to date, are international best-sellers; the world they depict is Los Angeles at its wildest and darkest, cops and criminals as violent as each other. Ellroy’s own life has been dominated by crime; his mother was murdered when he was ten, and Ellroy himself got involved in petty theft and, as a young man, spent time in jail. In Private Passions, James Ellroy reflects on a turbulent life, and how he honed his story-telling skills in a cell with five other criminals. He reveals how much he owes to classical music – and particularly to Beethoven. He has a bust of Beethoven on his desk as he writes, and speaks to him every day. Sometimes Beethoven answers back. James talks too about his other heroes: Mahler, Shostakovich, Bruckner and Wagner, and his admiration for their monumental works. The choices have a strong romantic streak, perhaps surprising in a writer whos...

29 MINAUG 25
Comments
James Ellroy

Hannah Sullivan

Earlier this year, when Hannah Sullivan won the biggest prize in the poetry world, the TS Eliot Prize, the chair of the judges announced: “A star is born. Where has she come from?” Such a prestigious prize is a rare honour, as the book, Three Poems, was Hannah Sullivan’s first published collection. Up until then, she’d established a successful academic career, studying at Cambridge, teaching at Harvard and for the last seven years at New College Oxford, where she’s an Associate Professor of English. In Private Passions, Hannah Sullivan talks to Michael Berkeley about the time in New York which inspired her prize-winning poems, and why she wanted to capture what it’s like to be alone and vulnerable in a strange city. She reads from a new poem about Grenfell Tower, which will be published next year. And she reveals a passion for Nina Simone. Other music choices include Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier”, the Dvorak Cello Concerto, the Schubert String Quintet, and a setting of a po...

28 MINAUG 18
Comments
Hannah Sullivan

Peter Piot

At the age of 27, Peter Piot’s life was changed by the arrival of a special package from Africa. He was working as a researcher in a microbiology lab in Antwerp, Belgium; and, in September 1976, the lab was alerted that a package was on its way from Zaire: samples of blood from an epidemic that was stirring along the river Congo. Several Belgian nuns had already died of a strange new disease. The disease – which Peter Piot and his team identified, and named – was Ebola, and he went on to play a leading role in helping to contain the epidemic. He then led research into the worldwide epidemic which followed, the new disease of AIDS, becoming President of the International Aids society. Peter Piot has held prominent positions in the United Nations and in the World Health Organisation and has been ennobled both in Belgium and in Britain, where in 2016 he was made an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George. It’s a career which has taken him all over the wor...

38 MINJUL 28
Comments
Peter Piot

James Burke

As the 50th anniversary of the moon landings approaches, James Burke talks to Michael Berkeley about the music that brings back memories of the heady days when, new to science broadcasting, he was chosen by the BBC to lead the coverage of the Apollo Missions and the moment the first human stepped onto the Moon. James Burke has the rare gift of making complex ideas comprehensible to a wide audience – and providing a great deal of entertainment along the way. He began his BBC career on Tomorrow’s World, and his series Connections, which offered a new perspective on the history of science and technology, was a television landmark. James is the author of more than a dozen books, and his series about his long-running project The Knowledge Web was broadcast recently on Radio 4. The surprising thing about James Burke is that he studied Middle English at university and got into science broadcasting quite by accident while working in Italy. He tells Michael how it happened and plays a Neap...

33 MINJUL 14
Comments
James Burke

Sarah Langford

Sarah Langford is a barrister; in her words, her job is “to represent the mad and the bad, the broken and the hopeful” – telling their stories in court. After thirteen years of practice, she decided to tell their stories in a book, too. In Your Defence was published last year and has had a huge impact. In it she tells the stories of eleven people she represented in both the criminal and family courts: harrowing stories of mothers whose babies are taken away at birth, teenagers caught up in addiction, a wife who’s abused, a boy whose parents fight over him for years. In Private Passions, she talks to Michael Berkeley about why she felt it was important to get these people’s stories into the public domain, at a time when the criminal justice system in Britain is facing overwhelming pressure. One of the challenges of the job is to decompress, after the emotions of a day fighting a case in court, and this is where listening to music is crucial. “When I was coming home on the train...

33 MINJUL 7
Comments
Sarah Langford

Latest Episodes

Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell was still a teenager, living in Australia, when he started on what has been a long and headline-grabbing career of political protest. He was only fifteen when he began campaigning against the death penalty, and in support of aboriginal rights. At the age of seventeen, he realised he was gay, and the struggle for gay rights became his increasing focus: he was a leading activist in the Gay Liberation Front in the 1970s, and, more recently, a campaigner for same-sex marriage. He gained international celebrity for his attempted citizen's arrest of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in 1999 and again in 2001, on charges of torture and human rights abuses. Beaten by Mugabe’s bodyguards, he suffered permanent eye and brain damage. He has also been beaten up by Neo-Nazis in Moscow, and held in prisons across the world. He says, ruefully: “I’m the master of the motorcade ambush”. One of his tactics has been literally to run into the road and throw himself in front of offic...

34 MIN5 d ago
Comments
Peter Tatchell

Deborah Levy

Deborah Levy was born in South Africa; when she was five, her father was arrested as a member of the ANC and spent four years in jail. The family left for England, arriving when Deborah was nine, in 1968. Unsurprisingly her work as a writer is concerned with themes of identity, exile, dislocation. Beginning as a poet and a playwright – her plays were staged by the RSC – she then turned to novels, and there are now seven in all, of which the last three have been nominated for the Booker Prize. The latest is ‘The Man Who Saw Everything’. Deborah talks with Michael Berkeley about the music that means most to her. Many of the pieces she loves are to do with saying farewell: Lotte Lenya saying ‘goodbye’ in Brecht and Weill’s Alabama Song; Orpheus pining for Euridice in Kathleen Ferrier’s legendary recording of Gluck’s ‘Che Faro?’; sisters wishing their lovers safe travel as, purportedly, they depart for war, in the trio from Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. Deborah talks openly about her memories of her father’s imprisonment and of his return home; about the enormous transition in her life when, aged fifty, her marriage ended; and about how she found a room of her own in which to write, renting a friend’s garden shed and working to the noise of apples dropping onto the roof. Also among her music is Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata (‘the silences are as important as the notes’); a song by Leonard Cohen; and a translucent setting of a Verlaine poem, ‘La Lune Blanche’, composed by Billy Cowie and sung by identical twins. Produced by Elizabeth Burke A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

36 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Deborah Levy

Jock Stirrup

Lord Stirrup, former Chief of the Defence Staff, talks to Michael Berkeley about his passion for music from Renaissance motets to twenty-first-century opera. Jock Stirrup was lucky to survive when a bird hit one of the engines of his Jaguar jet in 1983. With the cockpit glass obscured and one engine on fire, he chose not to eject from the plane, but to try to land it to save the life of his student pilot. For this he was awarded the Air Force Cross. This calm under pressure served him well as he rose through the ranks of the RAF, commanding forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and becoming Chief of the Defence Staff – the head of all the UK’s armed forces – until his retirement in 2011. A member of the Order of the Garter, he now sits as a cross-bencher in the House of Lords and has spoken critically about the regime in Russia and equipment shortages for troops in Iraq. He talks to Michael about the pressures of commanding forces, dealing with casualties, and speaking out on behalf of the men and women in the armed forces. Less well known is Jock Stirrup’s lifelong love of classical music. Now he’s retired he spends as much time as he can listening to music live, and he’s chosen pieces that span five centuries and many genres – a motet by Josquin Des Prez, music by Bach and by Mendelssohn, part of George Benjamin’s 2012 opera Written on Skin, and music from Die Walküre, illustrating the passion he’s had for Wagner from his schooldays. Producer: Jane Greenwood A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

34 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Jock Stirrup

Siri Hustvedt

It’s hard to sum up the extraordinary reach of Siri Hustvedt’s work. On the one hand, there are popular novels such as What I Loved and The Summer Without Men, which became international best-sellers and were translated into thirty languages. But underpinning her six novels there’s an impressive body of philosophical exploration – about Freud, neurophysiology, painting. Then there’s her own art work: Siri Hustvedt illustrates many of her own books. She has published a volume of poetry, and she’s also a lecturer in Psychiatry at Cornell Medical College. She lives in New York with her husband, the writer Paul Auster. In Private Passions, Siri Hustvedt admits that she enjoys being hard to pin down, because much of her work is about identity and how it shifts across a lifetime. She reflects on her own youth in New York, where she was so poor that she ate by cruising bars during “Happy Hour” and eating the free snacks. She reveals too that she has neurological episodes where she loses consciousness, sees auras, and sometimes visions and voices. She admires the visionary composer Hildegard of Bingen, and also composer Meredith Monk, who is pushing the human voice to the limit in "Scared Song". Other choices include Mozart’s Don Giovanni, John Cage’s Sonata V, Webern’s Six Pieces for Orchestra, and Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’Ete. Produced by Elizabeth Burke A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

33 MINSEP 15
Comments
Siri Hustvedt

David Cannadine

David Cannadine describes himself as “staggeringly lucky”: he found what he wanted to do early in life, and it has rewarded him richly. He is one of our most distinguished historians; his period is the 19th and early 20th century, and he’s written more than twenty books, on Churchill, on class, on the aristocracy - among many others. He’s the editor of the Dictionary of National Biography and the President of the British Academy, and a frequent broadcaster on Radio 4. He was knighted for services to scholarship in 2009. But perhaps the most surprising thing about David Cannadine is that although he was born in Birmingham and his historical research focuses on Britain, he himself lives in America; he’s spent ten years at Columbia University and is currently Professor of History at Princeton. In Private Passions he reflects on how his trans-Atlantic life changes his perspective, and enables him to see both Britain and the US as foreign countries. Although he’s now at the heart o...

28 MINSEP 8
Comments
David Cannadine

James Ellroy

James Ellroy has been dubbed the ‘demon dog of American crime fiction’, a label he relishes. His crime novels, fifteen to date, are international best-sellers; the world they depict is Los Angeles at its wildest and darkest, cops and criminals as violent as each other. Ellroy’s own life has been dominated by crime; his mother was murdered when he was ten, and Ellroy himself got involved in petty theft and, as a young man, spent time in jail. In Private Passions, James Ellroy reflects on a turbulent life, and how he honed his story-telling skills in a cell with five other criminals. He reveals how much he owes to classical music – and particularly to Beethoven. He has a bust of Beethoven on his desk as he writes, and speaks to him every day. Sometimes Beethoven answers back. James talks too about his other heroes: Mahler, Shostakovich, Bruckner and Wagner, and his admiration for their monumental works. The choices have a strong romantic streak, perhaps surprising in a writer whos...

29 MINAUG 25
Comments
James Ellroy

Hannah Sullivan

Earlier this year, when Hannah Sullivan won the biggest prize in the poetry world, the TS Eliot Prize, the chair of the judges announced: “A star is born. Where has she come from?” Such a prestigious prize is a rare honour, as the book, Three Poems, was Hannah Sullivan’s first published collection. Up until then, she’d established a successful academic career, studying at Cambridge, teaching at Harvard and for the last seven years at New College Oxford, where she’s an Associate Professor of English. In Private Passions, Hannah Sullivan talks to Michael Berkeley about the time in New York which inspired her prize-winning poems, and why she wanted to capture what it’s like to be alone and vulnerable in a strange city. She reads from a new poem about Grenfell Tower, which will be published next year. And she reveals a passion for Nina Simone. Other music choices include Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier”, the Dvorak Cello Concerto, the Schubert String Quintet, and a setting of a po...

28 MINAUG 18
Comments
Hannah Sullivan

Peter Piot

At the age of 27, Peter Piot’s life was changed by the arrival of a special package from Africa. He was working as a researcher in a microbiology lab in Antwerp, Belgium; and, in September 1976, the lab was alerted that a package was on its way from Zaire: samples of blood from an epidemic that was stirring along the river Congo. Several Belgian nuns had already died of a strange new disease. The disease – which Peter Piot and his team identified, and named – was Ebola, and he went on to play a leading role in helping to contain the epidemic. He then led research into the worldwide epidemic which followed, the new disease of AIDS, becoming President of the International Aids society. Peter Piot has held prominent positions in the United Nations and in the World Health Organisation and has been ennobled both in Belgium and in Britain, where in 2016 he was made an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George. It’s a career which has taken him all over the wor...

38 MINJUL 28
Comments
Peter Piot

James Burke

As the 50th anniversary of the moon landings approaches, James Burke talks to Michael Berkeley about the music that brings back memories of the heady days when, new to science broadcasting, he was chosen by the BBC to lead the coverage of the Apollo Missions and the moment the first human stepped onto the Moon. James Burke has the rare gift of making complex ideas comprehensible to a wide audience – and providing a great deal of entertainment along the way. He began his BBC career on Tomorrow’s World, and his series Connections, which offered a new perspective on the history of science and technology, was a television landmark. James is the author of more than a dozen books, and his series about his long-running project The Knowledge Web was broadcast recently on Radio 4. The surprising thing about James Burke is that he studied Middle English at university and got into science broadcasting quite by accident while working in Italy. He tells Michael how it happened and plays a Neap...

33 MINJUL 14
Comments
James Burke

Sarah Langford

Sarah Langford is a barrister; in her words, her job is “to represent the mad and the bad, the broken and the hopeful” – telling their stories in court. After thirteen years of practice, she decided to tell their stories in a book, too. In Your Defence was published last year and has had a huge impact. In it she tells the stories of eleven people she represented in both the criminal and family courts: harrowing stories of mothers whose babies are taken away at birth, teenagers caught up in addiction, a wife who’s abused, a boy whose parents fight over him for years. In Private Passions, she talks to Michael Berkeley about why she felt it was important to get these people’s stories into the public domain, at a time when the criminal justice system in Britain is facing overwhelming pressure. One of the challenges of the job is to decompress, after the emotions of a day fighting a case in court, and this is where listening to music is crucial. “When I was coming home on the train...

33 MINJUL 7
Comments
Sarah Langford