Words & Music: Symphony of the City (Radio)

Words and Music – Symphony of the City was presented on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday 12th September, 2010, 10.45 pm – 11.45 pm, GMT.

Richard Armitage and Emilia Fox read poetry and prose from Swift, Dickens and Wordsworth, T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf and William Carlos Williams on the theme of a ‘Symphony of a City’. This episode, which uses the music of Gershwin, Varese, Byrd, Steve Reich and Charles Ives, is drawn from the silent ‘city symphony’ documentaries of the 1920s, from Walter Ruttmann’s ‘Berlin: Symphony of a Great City’ to Dziga Vertov’s ‘The Man with a Movie Camera’.

“These were among the first documentaries to take the city as both character and subject, highlighting the inherent musicality of the heterogeneous mass of the modernist city. The rhythms of daily city life are evoked not just in the subject matter of this poetry and prose but in the very rhythms of their performance. And yet, we also see that the study of these daily movements of city life does not just belong to the modernists. The beauty, the energy, and the strange terror of city life, are evoked here by poets and authors across time”.

You can find a transcript of the poems read by Richard HERE.