Private Passions BBC book cover
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:

The show’s signature tune is The Wakeful Poet from Michael’s Music From Chaucer.


Private Passions resources