Private Passions published by Faber & Faber
Private Passions broadcast for over 20 years
Michael has presented one of BBC Radio 3’s most popular and successful programmes, Private Passions (Sunday at 12 noon), for over 20 years. The programme is recorded in his house and has included an extraordinarily constrasting list of guests, ranging from Isaiah Berlin to Stewart Copeland, the drummer of the Police, and from the Archbishop of Canterbury to John Bird and Stephen Fry.
April 2015 saw the show’s 20th anniversary. At this time, Michael wrote, “As a composer I’ve always been intrigued by the way people who are not professional musicians talk about music and how they tend to reveal things about themselves when they do. And so, 20 years ago, when Radio 3 was looking for a new programme in which a huge variety of people talked about their passion for music, I felt very excited about the possibilities. We called the programme ‘Private Passions’ because we’ve largely avoided professional musicians – whose musical passions are public.”
“Music seems to connect us with what really matters, beyond the daily busyness of our lives, so when we talk about it we soon come to love and death. Over the years, acts of seduction, weddings and funerals have all loomed large; nonetheless, I can honestly say I haven’t regretted any of my guests. I enjoy the way they confound all the established musical categories, mixing up classical and jazz and rock music. Indeed they have sometimes made me overcome my own prejudices.”
After 20 years of asking others to choose, Michael made his own selection:
- Conlon Nancarrow: Study for Player-Piano No.21
- Igor Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring
- J S Bach, St John Passion
- Benjamin Britten, Billy Budd
- Blood, Sweat and Tears, Lucretia Macevil
The show’s signature tune is The Wakeful Poet from Michael’s Music From Chaucer.
Private Passions resources
- The Private Passions website for information about guests, the music they chose and a photo gallery
- Listen to the 20th Anniversary programme, available until May 2015
- The BBC Podcasts page offers an archive of episodes for download or streaming
- BBC Archive Unlocked: a review of two decades of Private Passions
- The 20th anniversary playlist is a selection of some of the pieces chosen by previous guests, including Michael’s own selection. The list can be played in a variety of online music services
- In his Guardian blog, Michael reflects on two decades of looking into his guests’ souls
- The Daily Mail asks: Why is Private Passions still Radio 3's best-kept secret?
- Private Passions at Classic Arts
- The Private Passions book charts the show’s first decade, listing all the guests and their choices of music.
- 2 January 2011 saw the 700th edition of the programme, a Mozart compilation for Radio 3's Mozart festival
- Private Passions with Julia Donaldson was included in Radio 4's Pick of the Week on 10 July 2016