Beethoven, Melvyn Bragg, and all that jazz

BBC Radio. Worth the license fee on its own, frankly. Next week Radio 3 is having some sort of wall-to-wall Beethoven shindig, which I suppose is the sort of thing one expects them to do. But the sheer scale and audacity of the enterprise is surprising, even invigorating. Most astonishingly, they’ve somehow managed to negotiate their way through the morass that is the MU, and they’re going to make all the symphonies available for download as mp3. This is, I think, an astonishing experiment, and a magnificent gift by all concerned to – let’s not be prissy about this – the world.

The Scotsman delves deeper into the background to, and implications of, what they’re doing:

Yet it may turn out that Noseda’s Beethoven becomes the household version to computer-literate millions in China, India or Korea who have never heard of Karajan or Klemperer and could, in any event, never afford the price of a DG or EMI set.

To them, Noseda and the BBC Phil are the bringers of light and arbiters of art.

When, two or three decades hence, China is the world’s largest industrial power, it will be Noseda’s Beethoven that couples recall as their formative revelation, as our grandparents once savoured Toscanini’s.

Such is the potential magnitude of the BBC’s magnanimity.

As for our Melvyn – well, over on Radio 4 he’s been banging on about calculus again, bless him. His show In Our Time is available, I kid you not, as a genuine honest-to-goodness podcast, with a weekly-refreshing xml feed and everything. Fire up your favourite newsreader software, and listen to what you missed! Frustratingly, however, past editions are only available as streaming RealAudio, not downloadable mp3. Ah well, it’ll come.

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