Composers Datebook®

Bingham's Secret Garden

Composer's Datebook - Aug. 21, 2023


At the BBC Proms on today’s date in 2004 Proms a new piece by the British composer Judith Bingham was premiered by the BBC Chorus.

Titled The Secret Garden, it was inspired by several events: a conversation about Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, a BBC TV series entitled The Private World of Plants, some rather racy descriptions of the sex life of plants by the 18th century Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, and a disturbing news story about the bombing of the so-called “Adam Tree” in Iraq at a site that locals believe was where the Garden of Eden once stood.  Bingham wrote her own text, which includes many Latin names of plants, which led to The Secret Garden’s subtitle: Botanical Fantasy.

“This is meant to be a magical piece,” says Bingham. “It has a Christian framework with opening and closing quotations from Genesis and Matthew … but the piece also seems to wonder whether the world is better off without humans, and that, should humans cease to exist, Paradise would very soon re-establish itself …”

Music Played in Today's Program

Judith Bingham (b. 1952) The Secret Garden BBC Symphony Chorus; Thomas Trotter, o; Stephen Jackson, conductor. Naxos 8.570346 (live Proms recording of the premiere performance)

On This Day


  • 1893 - French composer Lili Boulanger, in Paris; She was the younger sister of Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979), the famous French composition teacher;

  • 1927 - German composer Willhelm Killmayer, in Munich;


  • 1951 - British composer and writer Constant Lambert, age 45, in London;


  • 1966 - Creston: "Pavane Variations" at the La Jolla Music Festival in California;


  • 1800 - The U.S. Marine Band presented its first public concert in Washington, DC, "on a hill overlooking the Potomac," near the future site of the Lincoln Memorial.

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About Composers Datebook®

Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.

He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.

About Composers Datebook®