Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Classical Music - Sunday 19 January 2014

Catherine Bott goes back to the Bible and explores the Old Testament in music.

This week, Catherine Bott asks the question, "Why has the Old Testament exerted such an influence over composers?". There's hardly a story in the Old Testament which hasn't inspired an opera or oratorio, or a verse that hasn't been set to music.

Tonight, Catherine begins with Noah's flood, as captured in music by Donizetti for his opera, Il diluvio universal. Then there's the story of the neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar told in Verdi's Nabucco, the rivalry of Saul and David by the Danish composer Nielsen, Rossini's take on Moses, and Saint-Saens' version of Samson and Delilah. 

Catherine also takes a look at the Book of Psalms and how these exquisite verses have been set to music by numerous composers, ranging from the Renaissance composer Salamone Rossi, through Milhaud to Leonard Bernstein.