Judith Weir - BBC Radio 3 Composer of the Week

Judith Weir - BBC Radio 3 Composer of the Week
From Monday March 30 until Good Friday, April 3, Chester Music composer Judith Weir will be BBC Radio 3’s Composer of the Week.

About the programmes

Donald Macleod talks to Judith Weir about her life and her music. One of our most distinguished composers, in July 2014 she succeeded Sir Peter Maxwell Davies as Master of the Queen's Music. It's an honour that joins an already impressive collection of awards, which include a CBE and the Queen's Medal for Music. Born in 1954 into a musical Scottish family, Weir grew up near London. A member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Weir studied composition with John Tavener during her school holidays. More formal studies followed at Cambridge University, including composition with Robin Holloway, and at Tanglewood summer school, where she worked with Gunther Schuller. The possessor of a rich, fertile imagination, Weir draws on a wide variety of sources, notably dark fairytales, folk stories, Chinese philosophy, Indian music and culture, distilling their essence in music of luminous clarity. Her fundamental concern is to tell stories. An articulate communicator, Weir's writing about her music encapsulates the process brilliantly. In this series, Weir offers a personal insight into some of the musical projects which have occupied her since the beginning of the noughties.


Monday March 30, 12.00, repeated at 6.30pm

On January 1 2015 Weir took up a new position as Associate Composer to the BBC Singers. In the first of this series of five programmes, Donald Macleod discovers where this new choral direction will be leading and how a building's fabric can be captured in musical form.

Music includes:
The Wild Reeds (excerpt)
The Song Sung True
The Vanishing Bridegroom (The Inheritance, Act 1, excerpt)

Tuesday March 31, 12.00, repeated at 6.30pm

Weir talks about the challenges of writing for the stage, including A Night at the Chinese Opera, Blond Eckbert and her most recent opera Miss Fortune.

Music includes:
Songs from the Exotic – The Romance of Count Arnaldos
Black Night, Cool Breeze from A Night at the Chinese Opera
Kite in perpetuo moto; Aria with Rising Floodwater from A Night at the Chinese Opera
Strohmian!; Prelude – Walther’s Death from Blond Eckbert
Miss Fortune (excerpt)
The Stranger from The Vanishing Bridegroom

Wednesday April 1, 12.00, repeated at 6.30pm

Judith Weir describes how the elements around her, from outer space to the roof of the Royal Albert Hall are distilled in the form and language of her music.

Music includes:
Strathspey and reel from Airs from Another Planet
Magnificat and Nunc dimittis
Psalm 148
Natural History

Thursday April 2, 12.00, repeated at 6.30pm

Weir discusses the reasons why she generally writes her own librettos, and how she approaches the delicate balance between text and instrumental forces.

Music includes:
Breasts! from Woman.Life.Song
Missa del Cid
The Welcome Arrival of Rain

Good Friday April 3, 12.00, repeated at 6.30pm

In the final episode Weir talks to Macleod about her role as Master of the Queen’s Music and looks back at the professional relationships she has forged over the years.

Music includes:
To Judith, from Judith from Variations for Judith
Blackbirds and Thrushes
Piano Quartet
Winter Song

Further reading:


Full broadcast details can be found online at the Composer of the Week pages
Recordings of the Judith Weir compositions featured on this series can be accessed via a dedicated Spotify playlist curated by MusicSales.

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