Tuesday, April 12, 2011

4/12 Desert Island Discs

Recently you may have heard that the BBC has begun opening up their archives of the Desert Island Discs program for free web streaming. I have to admit, I'd never heard of this program, but apparently it's the longest-running radio program in existence. Oops. However that makes it a veritable treasure trove of undiscovered music goodies for new listeners like me. Interestingly enough, this Desert Island Discs program doesn't just approach musicians like most interviews of this type - scientists, administrators, politicians, teachers, actors, etc...are all included - which makes for some interesting commonalities.

For example, Stephen Hawking and Yoko Ono both chose Edith Piaf as one of their 8 desert discs! I don't think a sentence with those 3 names together has ever been published before.

Anyways, as far as Beethoven is concerned, I was pretty impressed that our man B. got the most "hits" out of the entire history of the show. Who says Beethoven isn't still relevant?

Some of the people who included B. on their D.I.D. list includes:
James Ellroy (crime writer)
Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort)
Richard Dreyfuss (Mr. Holland)
James Mason (Captain Nemo)
Roald Dahl (Wonkabars and Oompa Loompa)
Margaret Thatcher (former politician)
Marlene Dietrich (Screen Goddess)
Vivien Leigh (Marion Crane from Hitchcock's "Psycho")
Martin Sheen (former President of the United States)
Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf, Magneto, etc)
J K Rowling (children's book writer)
Dr Jane Goodall (Ape Scientist)
Dave Brubeck ("Take 5")
Stephen Hawking (Gravity Scientist)
Christopher Reeve (Superman)
Peter Maxwell Davies (Composer - great choices)
Mel Brooks (Created Young Frankenstein)
Sir Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan Kenobi)
Vincent Price (Dr. Phibes)
John Barry (made 007 theme famous)
Elvis Costello (His Aim Is True)
Arthur C Clarke (Why no LvB in 2001:A Space Odyssey?)
Dudley Moore (The real Arthur)
William Hartnell (Doctor Who)
Aaron Copland (wrote Wide World of Sports theme (wink))

Anyways, these people chose one or more Beethoven works as 1 of their 8 desert island recordings.  Obviously the selection of interviewees tends toward the British side of things, so I wonder how a survey like this would go in America?

Here's the full list of all the people who selected Beethoven.

At present only 500 programs are available leading up to March 11 and going forwards, but I believe they will add more as time goes by.  You can see the lists tho for the entire history of the show.  Have fun!

(The James Ellroy interview is pretty good - he lists I think 5 works and he obviously loves Beethoven.)

Below is Sir Ian McKellen's Beethoven pick:
String Quartet in Bb Major, Opus 130: II. Presto 
Cypress Quartet (Sir Ian actually chose the Lindsays)

Today's post is kind of a fluff piece - that's because tomorrow and the next are going to be kind of  "academic" ones...but I hope they will be fun.

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