Sussex historian revisits 70 great moments in BBC arts broadcasting

A Sussex media historian has sourced dozens of memorable moments from BBC arts radio as part of a major national celebration.

Professor David Hendy was commissioned to produce 70 episodes to highlight the ‘Power of 3’, which celebrates seven decades of culture and music since the start of the Third Programme, the predecessor to BBC Radio 3.

Beginning on Thursday (29 September) at 10.30am, Radio 3 listeners will be able to hear the first of the daily three-minute programmes, which include an introduction by David followed by excerpts from Samuel Beckett’s first radio play, the premiere of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in 1962, as well as clips of jazz and classical music performances - and the more avant-garde.

David, who is also the latest official historian of the BBC, said: “I wanted to be able to offer the critical highlights, but also programmes that capture a sense off discovery and risk - including some that might be regarded as failures.

“The greatest challenge - but the greatest opportunity to make personal discovery - comes from the hours and hours of archive recordings I have been listening to over the summer. It has given me the chance to listen, for the first time, to - for instance, Samuel Beckett's first play for radio, 'All That Fall' (1957), to hear Michael Ventris announce to the world in a Third Programme talk (1952) his decoding of the famous 'Cretan Tablets' from Knossos, to hear a rare recital by Janet Baker of works by Schoenberg, and to catch the beat poet Allen Ginsberg intoning to Tibetan prayer cymbals at the Royal Albert Hall in 1965.

“Taken together, it's reminded me of how productive the Third Programme and its successor Radio 3 have been in introducing us to culture defined more broadly than we might imagine if we just think of them as essentially 'classical' music stations.”

'Power of 3' will run at 10.30am weekdays (as part of 'Essential Classics'), repeated at 5.30pm weekdays (as part of 'In Tune'), and at 8.55am on Saturdays and Sundays as the last item of the breakfast programme. It starts on 29 September and runs every day until 7 December.

The series is part of a larger celebration of BBC Radio 3’s 70th Season, which includes Sound Frontiers, a programme of live music and drama performances at the Southbank Centre in London.



By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Tuesday, 1 May 2018