Blogger Widgets

Monday, 6 April 2015

My 'Desert Island Discs'

If you are of 'the older generation' and live in the UK, you will have heard or listened to a programme on BBC Radio 4 called 'Desert Island Discs'.

(BBC Radio 4)
First Broadcast in 1942, the idea is that celebrities are invited to share and discuss their choices of 8 pieces of music, 1 book and 1 luxury as if they were a castaway on a desert island. They already have The Works of Shakespeare and The Bible on their imaginary Island. 

The items chosen often have personal meaning to them which is then discussed in the programme. Exerts from the music are played as part of the Radio programme and the celebrity is asked to pick 1 piece in particular out of the 8 tracks provided as their all-time favourite.
The luxury cannot be food, another human being nor can it be something of use (ie a boat). 

Thinking about this logically it would also have to withstand the humidity and torrential downpours of the Island- mine obviously isn't a mythic-ally 'happy' place...


 As the internet is a huge archive of thoughts I love the idea that I can create an 'open time capsule' that will record my own personal wishes and likes of 'Belinda the 24 year old'. I feel in years to come as I grow and experience new things this list will most definitely change-for example I'm sure it will feature the song played at my wedding, the luxury being my child's first tooth or something creepy, the book that I pen about my experience being saved from this deserted island...

So Here goes:

1. Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade: The Young Prince and The Young Princess

This piece of music is my top favourite and will always be. As a baby and child it was my lullaby and was hummed by my mum and my late grandma in attempts to waft me to sleep. 
'It was written in 1888 as a symphonic suite by Rimsky-Korsakov on 'Arabian Nights' stories' - The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. 
 Listening to this piece is very calming and brings me back to my earliest memories as a 3 year old being soothed to sleep- I have a very vivid long-term memory! 


2. Gershwin- Rhapsody in Blue

I first properly appreciated this music when it was included in Disney's 2000 film 'Fantasia'. It was the first time I realised how music can act out a story (it was used to accompany an animation). Now, listening to it without a cartoon attached, the piece with its different layers, cresendo's and diminuendos, instrumental characteristics and change in tempo creates its own imagery! If you like this, check out 'American in Paris'- another notably visual piece.


3. Andrew Lloyd Webber- Masquerade- Phantom of the Opera

Phantom of the Opera is my all time favourite musical and I am a huge fan! I will cry at each performance and I will continue to pay crazy amounts of money to see it! (I've seen in 12 times so far since 2006) Why? The story is about a deformed musical genius recluse who lives in the depths of the Paris Opera house and falls in love with a chorus girl. Throughout the play the music, stage design, the costumes are just so atmospheric - I have goosebumps even now! There are raw sensual moments, unrequited love, amazingly impossible vocal range and spectacular magical effects. The exert is very hard to choose from but the Masquerade music is a big chorus party number I can see myself spending time on my island performing the dance wearing a costume of leaves...I'm aware I'm taking this too far.


4. Stainer's Crucifixion - God So Loved the World


I have been raised a Christian but it has only been in recent months that I have learnt the impact of the Christian teachings in my life; this piece reminds me of the Christian message. Since school I have sung in choirs singing choral scores as well as musical theatre and chart-'stuff'. I come from a very musical family with classical music being played and sung constantly. This piece of music is very emotive and has family connections: my grandpa (96) sang it as a choir boy when he was 9, I've sung it at school and it was played at my Grandma's funeral. It is a beautiful piece- even better when sung unaccompanied.


5. Khachaturian- Adagio from Spartacus Suite No.2 (Ballet)

This music is soooo romantic! As previously said, my mum is very musical and the biggest classical music fan I know, so much so I can hum a piece of music and she will tell you what it is, where it was performed, who conducted it...The love for this music simply came from hearing it used in TV programmes and just falling in love with it. A possible personal connection could be that it is music from a Ballet (although I haven't seen it). I used to dance Ballet and growing up went to see Ballet at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London.


6. Miriam Stockley- Perfect Day


I relish in Nostalgia.  I grew up watching Beatrix Potter cartoons (and the Ballet) and we have old VHS tapes of them recorded from the TV. This music is the theme tune to these animations. It makes me think of little woodland creatures scampering about in a fairy filled forest...a safe, idyllic flowery forest not one smelling of weed with drug dealers scampering about! 


7. Simon Jeffes- Penguin Cafe Orchestra- Air à Danser

The Penguin Cafe Orchestra were a collective of musicians whose music was used in an orchestrated Ballet choreographed by David Bintley, 'Still Life at the Penguin Cafe'. This is what me and my sister watched when we went to visit our beloved grandparents. Its a ballet that is set in a cafe where human-like penguins gather and dance (have I lost you yet?). After which there is a series of dances danced by an endangered species. They all have a party together before surviving a down-pour and congregating on an Ark-like boat. (Not selling this to you am I?!) ... 
The ballet's theme is Pro-Environment, Pro-conservation but of course growing up watching it and not understanding all these values I just loved the music and watching the dancing of the 'bleeding Zebra', 'cute chipmunk', 'naked family' and 'morris dancing ladybird'. Oh innocence! How I miss you!


8.  Glenn Miller- Pennsylvania 6-5000

In a perfect world I would now actually be reaching 70 years of age having lived through WW2, attended regular tea dances, making all my own clothes and digging for Victory! I love the 40s/ 50s music, fashion and that Make Do and Mend attitude. I don't wish for WW3 but I do feel our country needs a kick up the arse in tradition, clubbing together and using our luxuries and resources more wisely! I first heard this song on the TV drama, 'Carrie's War'. Its so upbeat and I just love that brass band sound of the decade. Learning to ballroom and latin dance now has given me part of my 'perfect lifestyle', just need more young people to get involved!

Its interesting but not surprising, looking at my list of music that its predominantly from the classical genre. Would you agree classical music is timeless? I wonder why- what makes a piece timeless? No words? ... please enlighten me! 

Now to finish with the:

Book: Jessie Burton- The Miniaturist

This is such a magical story set in 17th Century Amsterdam. Eighteen year old, Nella has come to live with her husband and austere sister-in law, who she has yet to meet in a large wealthy establishment.  As a wedding gift from her husband, Johannes she is given a cabinet- a replica of her marital home. She commissions a miniaturist to finish it. However when these figures and props arrive she realises they resemble the people and mimic and prophesies the events happening in the house and her life. It is a very atmospheric read that makes me go 'oOOo-ahhhh' and that deals with lots of issues. Having a historical setting I initially thought the book would be too 'meaty' for me. I have dyslexia and find reading quite an onerous task but this book was so gripping! I think the fact I had these qualms (good word) and that I enjoyed it so much heightens my love for the story and the writing. I also love the fact that you can see THE cabinet the story is based on at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

and lastly the... 
I have always said 'piano'. Happy times are spent playing the piano, I could spend my time on my desert island learning the 70 pages of Rhapsody in Blue...Oh that's 2 luxuries.. I could use the belly of the piano as a shelter (or a raft)..and floss my teeth with the strings...but then we're getting in the realms of functionality!

So I hope to update this with something more exciting but as I have recently been reviewing my skincare routine and I have a track record of burning like a lobster in the sun I suppose I would take: SUNCREAM.


There you have it: my 8 pieces of music, book and luxury I would take on my desert island. 

What music, book, item would you take to your desert island?
Please leave a comment below!

B  xx