3 Elizabeths Suite (2) Eric Coates Download '3 Elizabeths Suite (2)' on iTunes
Ben Fogle finished his tour of this nation's greatest music and musicians as he stopped off in Northern Ireland for the final Notes on Hidden Britain
Belfast-born pianist Barry Douglas was born in 1960 in Belfast. His first teacher was Felicitas LeWinter, a former pupil of the great pianist Emil von Sauer. Incredibly, von Sauer was taught by Franz Liszt. So, by extension, Barry Douglas is 'musically related' to one of the greatest composers who ever lived.
It's no surprise that with such a pedigree Barry Douglas went on to win the bronze medal in the 1985 Van Cliburn competition before showing the world he'd arrived, with a resounding victory in the most important competition of them all - the Tchaikovsky - the following year. Today he combines playing with conducting Camerata Ireland, the orchestra he founded in 1998.
But there’s one man who might take issue with Barry Douglas being labelled Belfast's greatest musical son…<br></br> There's no one prouder of Northern Ireland's heritage than the man with the golden flute Sir James Galway. As a boy he played in the city's famous marching bands. It was clear he had a gift for the flute and in no time he was studying in London. He began a career in orchestras, culminating with him being principal flute in the legendary Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Herbert von Karajan. Karajan was fiercely ambitious and single-minded, and so is James Galway. To Karajan's dismay, in 1975, Galway quit the orchestra to become the world’s most famous flute soloist.
Belfast once also boasted the world's biggest ship - the ill-fated RMS Titanic. The Titanic was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard here in Belfast. On her maiden voyage, 100 years ago this year, she hit an iceberg and sank with the loss of 1514 lives. During our road trip there's just time to visit the newly opened Titanic Belfast centre situated immediately in front of the slipway from where Titanic's hull was launched in 1911. A visit here reminds you just how the story of this doomed ship and the lives of the Belfast craftsmen and women who built her are woven into the soul of this proud city.
A few miles south of Belfast is the pretty Georgian village of Hillsborough where Hamilton Harty stopped by in 1879. His father was the church organist, a career young Harty looked destined to follow until, with the encouragement of his piano teacher, he moved to London at the age of 21 to be an accompanist.
Later he become a conductor, restoring the reputation of the Halle Orchestra in the years after its founder Charles Halle had departed, and he was the first to conduct Mahler's Ninth Symphony and Shostakovich's First Symphony in England. Towards the end of his career he was conductor in chief of the London Symphony Orchestra.
The focal point of the village is Hillsborough Castle - not a castle at all but a beautiful Georgian house. Today it is the official Northern Ireland residence of Her Majesty the Queen and open to the public in May, June and August.
Despite being as English as cucumber sandwiches Arthur Sullivan expressed Ireland’s distinctive musical voice as well as the Irish-born Hamilton. His most famous ode to the Emerald Isle was the Symphony in E, often called the ‘Irish’ symphony where you can hear the distinct sound of Ireland.
The piece came to Sullivan on holiday in Belfast in 1863. We know this because he recorded the moment in his diary: “As I was jolting home through wind and rain... in an open jaunting-car, the whole first movement of a symphony came into my head with a real Irish flavour about it.” Sullivan intended to call it the Irish Symphony but as he wrote later, “refrained for fear of courting comparison with Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony.”
And from an English composer inspired by Ireland to an American conductor inspired by its finest orchestra. JoAnn Falletta is the Ulster Orchestra's first female - and first American - conductor.