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ABBEY ROAD: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS RECORDING STUDIO (WITH A FOREWORD BY PAUL MCCARTNEY)
by David Hepworth
read by David Hepworth
running time 10hrs
Many people will recognise the famous zebra crossing. Some visitors may have graffitied their name on its hallowed outer walls. Others might even have managed to penetrate the iron gates. But what draws in these thousands of fans here, year after year? What is it that really happens behind the doors of the most celebrated recording studio in the world? It may have begun life as an affluent suburban house, but it soon became a creative hub renowned around the world as a place where great music, ground-breaking sounds and unforgettable tunes were forged - nothing less than a witness to, and a key participant in, the history of popular music itself.
by Laura Tunbridge
read by Laura Tunbridge
running time 7hrs 25mins
Ludwig van Beethoven: to some, simply the greatest ever composer of Western classical music. Yet his life remains shrouded in myths. Oxford professor Laura Tunbridge cuts through the noise. With each chapter focusing on a period of his life, a piece of music and a revealing theme, she provides a rich insight into the man and his works. With a wealth of new material, this is a compelling, accessible portrayal of one of the world's most creative minds and it will transform how you listen for ever.
CATHEDRALS IN A NUTSHELL
by Jonathan Gregson
read by Roy McMillan
running time 1hr 15mins
Cathedrals are among the most imposing, astonishing, and inspiring buildings in Europe. Regardless of faith, their architectural daring has never ceased to spark wonder. This guide traces the development of the cathedral from its earliest beginnings as a Bishop's house, up to the most extravagant contemporary designs around the world. In doing so, it sheds light on social, religious, and architectural history, as well as bringing the story of these extraordinary buildings to life.
by Valerie Grove
read by Jill Hetherington
running time 16hrs 30mins
From an Edwardian childhood in Manchester, Dodie Smith became one of the most successful female dramatists of her generation with her play 'Dear Octopus' in 1938, and then her children's book 'The 101 Dalmations' made her a household name when Disney filmed it. This biography conjures up not only England in the 20s and 30s, and a Golden Age of British theatre, but also the life of an ambitious, talented, yet vulnerable woman.
ELDERS AND BETTERS
by Quentin Bell
read by Steve Race
running time 9hrs
Quentin Bell provides a remarkable collection of pen portraits - of his parents Vanessa and Clive; of his aunt and uncle, Virginia and Leonard Woolf; of Roger Fry, E M Forster, Ottoline Morrell, Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey and many more. In writing about them he also tells the story of his own work: his employment as agricultural labourer, his career as artist and teacher of art, critic, writer, and as reluctant spokesman of Bloomsbury.
FOOTNOTES: A JOURNEY AROUND BRITAIN IN THE COMPANY OF GREAT WRITERS
by Peter Fiennes
read by Peter Fiennes
running time 8hrs 50mins
Every journey has its stories. Beginning with Enid Blyton and childhood in the Isle of Purbeck, Peter Fiennes embarks on a unique exploration of Britain. He follows in the footsteps of some our greatest writers, tracing the paths recorded in their books, journals and diaries. How much has time changed us? And has it been for better, or worse? Are we trapped in the past? Footnotes is a lyrical foray into our past and present, and a mesmerising quest to picture these isles anew.
THE GENIUS OF JANE AUSTEN
by Paula Byrne
read by Antonia Beamish
running time 11hrs 45mins
A radical look at Jane Austen as you've never seen her - as a lover of farce, comic theatre and juvenilia. Paula Byrne celebrates Britain's favourite novelist 200 years after her death and explores why her books make such awesome movies time after time.
by Neil Butterworth
read by Steve Race
running time 2hrs 30mins
An interesting account of the life and work of the composer Haydn.
INDIAN SUN: THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF RAVI SHANKAR
by Oliver Craske
read by John Hobday
running time 26hrs 30mins
Over eight decades, Ravi Shankar was India's greatest cultural ambassador who took Indian classical music to the world's leading concert halls and festivals, charting the map for those who followed. Oliver Craske paints a vivid picture of a captivating, restless workaholic, who lived a passionate and extraordinary life with a pioneering, international career that ultimately made his name synonymous with India.
JAMES ACASTER'S GUIDE TO QUITTING SOCIAL MEDIA
by James Acaster
read by James Acaster
running time 7hrs
This is a self-help book like no other. Because you are not helping yourself, James Acaster is helping you. When James quit all forms of social media in 2019, he felt like he'd been born anew, but he was worried he'd suffer withdrawal. He knew that in order to stay clean, he'd have to replace everything social media used to give him with three-dimensional real-life activities. And so it was that James found ways to anonymously bully strangers, see photos of everyone's dogs, get invited to as many parties as possible, immediately know about all celebrity deaths, get public figures fired, argue with everybody about everything and so much more without even owning a phone (he painted over the screen of his old one to stop himself looking at Instagram).
THE LANGUAGE GAME: HOW IMPROVISATION CREATED LANGUAGE AND CHANGED THE WORLD
by Nick Chater & Morten H Christiansen
read by Peter Noble
running time 9hrs 30mins
What is language? Why do we have it? Where does it come from? Why does that matter? Upending centuries of scholarship (including, most recently, Chomsky and Pinker) The Language Game shows how people learn to talk not by acquiring fixed meanings and rules, but by picking up, reusing and recombining countless linguistic fragments in novel ways.
THE MAKING OF POETRY: COLERIDGE, THE WORDSWORTHS AND THEIR YEAR OF MARVELS
by Adam Nicolson
read by Roger Davis
running time 12hrs 15mins
The year in the late 1790s that Coleridge, Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy spent together in the Quantock Hills, is the most famous year in English poetry. Out of it came 'The Ancient Mariner' and 'Kubla Khan' as well as Wordsworth's 'Lyrical Ballads' and the greatness of 'Tintern Abbey'. The idea that these poems came from this place, and that only by experiencing the physical circumstances of the year, in all weathers and all seasons, can the genesis of the poetry start to be understood.
OPERA EXPLAINED: FALSTAFF
by Thomson Smillie
read by David Timson
running time 1hr 20mins
'A lyric comedy unlike any other,' wrote Verdi about his last opera. That the last work of a composer who was notorious for his preference for tragic and gloomy subjects should be a brilliant human comedy, remains one of the wonders of music. Thomas Smillie's detailed and illuminating musical analysis explains the challenges and risks of the undertaking in this fascinating introduction.
PAPYRUS: THE INVENTION OF BOOKS IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
by Irene Vallejo Moreu
read by Sophie Roberts
running time 17hrs 28mins
Long before books were mass produced, those made of reeds from along the Nile were worth fighting and dying for. Journeying along the battlefields of Alexander the Great, beneath the eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, at Cleopatra's palaces and the scene of Hypatia's murder, award-winning author Irene Vallejo chronicles the excitement of literary culture in the ancient world, and the heroic efforts that ensured this impressive tradition would continue. Weaved throughout are fascinating stories about the spies, scribes, illuminators, librarians, booksellers, authors, and statesmen whose rich and sometimes complicated engagement with the written word bears remarkable similarities to the world today: Aristophanes and the censorship of the humourists, Sappho and the empowerment of women's voices, Seneca and the problem of a post-truth world.
by Helene Hanff
read by Betsy Drake
running time 7hrs
Helene Hanff was inspired to write after reading 'On the Art of Writing' by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. 'Q' taught Helene to love books. She tells how that first encounter with 'Q' altered the course of her life.
REBEL WRITERS: THE ACCIDENTAL FEMINISTS
by Celia Brayfield
read by Ann Clark
running time 10hrs 30mins
Shelagh Delaney, was the first in a succession of young women who wrote with an honesty that dazzled the world. Then came Edna O'Brien, Lynne Reid-Banks, Charlotte Bingham, Nell Dunn, Virginia Ironside and Margaret Forster; a disparate group who were united in their determination to shake the concepts of womanhood. In this biographical study, the acclaimed author, Celia Brayfield, tells their story for the first time.
THE SANEST GUY IN THE ROOM
by Don Black
read by Bob Rollett
running time 7hrs
Don Black is the man behind some of this century's greatest musical numbers. Shirley Bassey, Michael Jackson and Barbra Streisand are just some of the artists Black has worked with over the years. Interwoven with the stories behind songs such as 'Diamonds are Forever' and 'Born Free' are vignettes of Black's life with his beloved wife Shirley, who died in 2018, after almost sixty years of marriage. Black writes movingly about how the enormity of his grief changed his life, and how the dark days are slowly turning into dark moments.
TALES FROM THE STAVE
by Hill. Clemency Burton & Frances Fyfield
read by Clemency Burton Hill
running time 27hrs 40mins
Crime writer Frances Fyfield and classical music broadcaster Clemency Burton-Hill pore over the hand-written scores of great composers to decipher the hidden tales of creativity locked within. Behind the hieroglyphics, scribbles and corrections on these priceless pages are clues that, when forensically examined by an expert eye, reveal the extraordinary craft, skill and inventiveness of geniuses such as Beethoven, Handel, Elgar, Stravinsky, Schubert, Puccini, Rachmaninov and Chopin. Accompanied by a team of musical sleuths, including world-leading performers, conductors, writers and graphologists, Frances and Clemency travel the UK, Europe and America to track down these rare and treasured documents. Among their discoveries are the manuscripts for famous songs like 'On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring', and some of the best-loved operas, operettas and musicals of all time including Madame Butterfly, Porgy and Bess, and The Pirates of Penzance. They scour the fragile pages of Bach's B-Minor Mass, so thick with music that the ink has burned through the paper; the ballet score for Aaron Copland's 'Appalachian Spring', revealing the changes made to please guest dancer Rudolf Nureyev; and a long-lost flute concerto by Vivaldi, rediscovered after being buried in an Edinburgh archive for 250 years. Through detailed study of these, and many other, manuscripts, they reveal the answers to questions such as, how did Debussy attempt to capture the sea? What famous lines were adapted for their first singers? Why was one of Mozart's boldest lines crossed out? And did the shooting of a German diplomat inspire Tippett's A Child of Our Time? Inspired, insightful and often surprising, this is an unparalleled look at the astonishing secret history of musical invention - ink blots, doodles, coffee stains and all.
by Pierre Cabanne
read by Michael St. John
running time 9hrs
An account of Van Gogh's life and work with insightful excerpts from numerous letters to family and friends. The authors paints a totally honest picture of Van Gogh's life, emphasising his spirit and dedication and his battles with depression which along with his genius led to such amazing works of art.
WALTER GROPIUS: VISIONARY FOUNDER OF THE BAUHAUS
by Fiona MacCarthy
read by Anne Marlow
running time 21hrs 30mins
From 1910 to 1930 the German art school, the Bauhaus was at the very centre of European modern art and design. Walter Gropius, the charismatic founder, had little choice but to leave Germany when Hitler came to power. Here, Fiona MacCarthy argues that his visionary ideas still influence the way we live, work, and think today.
YEAR OF WONDER: CLASSICAL MUSIC FOR EVERY DAY
by Clemency Burton-Hill
read by Grace Dives
running time 13hrs
A unique celebration of classical music by an author who wants to encourage a love for this genre in all readers, whether complete novices or lifetime enthusiasts. Clemency chooses one piece of music for each day of the year, with a short explanation about the composer to put it into context.