Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Classical Music - 27 April 2014

Falstaff is the subject of Catherine Bott's exploration this week to mark Shakespeare's 450th birthday.

Verdi Falstaff Terfel

Catherine Bott  presents the first of four special programmes in which she asks the question, 'What is it about the plays of William Shakespeare that so many composers have been inspired by them to write great music?'

Tonight, Catherine focuses on the character of Sir John Falstaff - the large, vain and cowardly knight who appears in three of the Bard's great plays – Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, and The Merry Wives of Windsor

There's music from Elgar' s symphonic study of Falstaff; Salieri - who wrote a Falstaff opera; Nicolai's opera of The Merry Wives of Windsor; Vaughan Williams' Sir John in Love; Verdi's last and possibly greatest opera, Falstaff; and film music from two versions of Henry V - William Walton's classic with Laurence Olivier, and Patrick Doyle 's more recent collaboration with Kenneth Branagh.