Broadcaster and criminal barrister Robert Rinder joins Classic FM for a major new series celebrating some of the greatest classical composers and musicians who also happen to be gay. Over the course of the next six weeks, Rob explores some of the most beautiful, passionate and poignant music ever written, taking us on a journey through some seminal works, and focusing on pieces that connect with themes relating to the LGBTQ+ community.
Sunday 25 July
Broadcaster Robert Rinder continues his series celebrating some of the greatest LGBT+ composers and performers in classical music.
This week, he focuses on the great romantics and begins with Tchaikovsky; a composer of hugely emotional music, that mirrored his own disastrous marriage and inability to publicly confess his homosexuality in Russian society. Robert chooses a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.6 by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.
Then, he selects a recording of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.2. Chopin had many female lovers, famously including writer George Sand, but recently discovered letters from Chopin to an old school friend tell a slightly different story. Robert also includes Siegfried Wagner, whose relatively happy marriage did not bring an end to his affairs with men, or the associated scandals.
Elsewhere, there’s music from famed wit Francis Poulenc, who was one of music’s first openly gay composers, and a performance of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2 from the multi-talented painter, writer and musician Stephen Hough.
Broadcaster and barrister Robert Rinder continues his series celebrating composers and musicians who, as well as being responsible for some of the most passionate and poignant music ever made, are also members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Robert’s focus for the programme is joy and celebration, so he begins with an award-winning film composer. Angela Morley helped to popularise light music in the UK, and also became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Academy Award. Robert features her score to the 1978 film, Watership Down.
Then, there’s music from one of history’s most famous composers. Handel not only wrote music for celebrations from coronations to riverside parties, but was a celebrity of his day, known for his big appetite and short temper. Little is known about his close relationships but Handel never married, and socialised in circles where homosexuality was an open secret. As did Saint-Saëns, who held lavish and decadent parties, at which he would sometimes perform in drag. Robert includes a piece which perfectly captures the mood of such an occasion, the Baccanale from his opera Samson and Delilah.
Barrister and broadcaster Robert Rinder concludes his series celebrating composers and musicians who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and his focus in this programme is the talent in The World Today.
Robert begins by highlighting the music of American pianist Sara Davis Buechner who, having come to terms with gender dysphoria and transitioning, stopped receiving calls from conductors and had concert offers withdrawn. Robert features Buechner’s performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.
Then, he turns to a performance from the Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton. As well as winning many prestigious awards, Barton has been vocal about her passion for including people of all backgrounds on the concert platform.
Finally, Rob selects a recording from the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, who were founded in 1982 for “aesthetic rather than political purposes.” They sing a moving rendition of Arlen’s hit song Over the Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz.