Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Classical Music - Sunday 21 September 2014, 9pm

Catherine Bott asks, "Just what is it about traditional tunes and songs that’s proved such an inspiration to composers?"

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Week by week, Catherine Bott is hoping to answer everything you ever wanted to know about classical music – the big questions and the small niggly ones. Tonight’s theme is folk music – just what is it about traditional tunes and songs that’s proved such an inspiration to composers? And what’s the big difference between folk and classical music anyway? 

Catherine investigates some of the superb classical music that has been inspired by folk tunes, from the dances of Hungary that excited Johannes Brahms , via tunes from Scotland - invented by Malcolm Arnold , to the gypsy melodies that thrilled the violin virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate. 

Catherine will also be taking in the quotation of folk tunes in the music of Haydn and Mozart and, making his first appearance on Catherine's show – the Danish composer, Carl Nielsen. 

"In authentic performances of traditional music," says Catherine, "it’s allowed to speak for itself; there’s no score, no expression marks to tell the performers what to do. By the time a classical composer has adopted and adapted a folk tune, added some sophisticated harmonies and all the sounds of the orchestra, the original music has been compromised. Not ruined, but definitely changed, softened up a bit. But these arrangements do help to keep some beautiful melodies alive."