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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Saturday, November 14

The Beeb

Synopsis

On today’s date in 1922, the British Broadcasting Corporation began daily radio transmissions from London, at first offering just news and weather–the latter read twice, in case anyone wanted to take notes. The following month, on December 23rd, 1922, they broadcast their first orchestral concert.

Over time, the BBC became affectionately nicknamed “the Beeb,” or, less affectionately “Auntie,” due to the upper-middle class, slightly patronizing tone of its music announcers in the 1940s and 50s.

That said, Auntie has proven to be very hip in one aspect: the BBC has been a major commissioner of and advocate for new music by a wide range of composers–and not just British ones. In 2007, for example, the BBC Symphony premiered the “Doctor Atomic Symphony” by the American composer John Adams live on-air at a BBC Proms Concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

And it’s not just famous, big-name composers who get an airing on the Beeb either. Each year BBC Radio 3 host a competition for teenage composers. Winners participate in a mentored program and have one of their orchestral works developed, rehearsed, and performed at the BBC Proms.

Music Played in Today's Program

John Adams (b. 1947) Violin Concerto Tamsin Waley-Cohen, violin; BBC Symphony; Andrew Litton, cond. Signum 468

Additional Information

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