On Air Now
Classic FM Drive with Nicholas Owen 4pm - 7pm
Discovers the composers with a mean forehand and some other little known classical music and tennis facts.
A keen tennis player, Debussy’s Jeux (Game) was his last orchestral composition. The score was originally intended to accompany a ballet about two girls and a man playing tennis, with choreography by Nijinsky.
And it’s not surprising that Debussy wrote a score around a game of tennis, the French composer enjoyed the odd game, especially against…
The two French composers, Ravel and Debussy, were rivals on the court and off it.
Seventeenth-century Italian-born French composer Jean-Baptiste de Lully hired a tennis court to stage a ‘tennis’ opera called Pomone by Cambert (jeu de paume is the French forerunner of tennis). He was so enamoured by it, he built his own opera theatre temporarily around the court and performed a limited run of the opera. In 1672, he went into partnership with designer Carlo Vigarani and together they built a new theatre at the Bel Air tennis court on the Rue de Vaugirard where he staged the first tragédie en musique: Cadmus et Hermione, produced in 1673.
In 1958 the Russian pianist, who died last year, played on the junior tour of the USSR Championship.
Spanish tennis ace, Rafael Nadal’s grandfather is a retired conductor. Maestro Rafael Nadal conducted the local band in Nadal's hometown of Manacor, Majorca
Ukrainian composer Sergei Prokofiev fitted tennis in between composing his masterpieces. He was reportedly every bit a perfectionist on the court as he was with his scores.
The British composer was an all-round sportsman, but tennis and cricket (he was a fine batsman by all accounts) were particular favourites.
American composer, George Gershwin , also had a famous tennis opponent…
...Austrian composer and painter Arnold Schoenberg! The pair had regular games on Gershwin’s private tennis court.
The Vienna Burgtheater was originally a tennis court. It was refurbished as a theatre in 1741 and used for opera for the next 70 years. It hosted many premieres including Marriage of Figaro, Cosi fan Tutte and Beethoven First Symphony.
American composer and pianist Stephen Montague was a talented tennis player. He was the Florida State Junior College Tennis Champion in 1962.
Composer, conductor and pianist, Albert Ketèlbey was born in Birmingham, but had a stint as the organist at St John's church in Wimbledon. Ketèlbey, despite a stint in SW19, wasn't much of a tennis fan himself, preferring billiards.
Retired tenor, Ian Partridge, was born in Wimbledon in 1938. Here he is in red (sort of!) enjoying some typical Wimbledon weather