Sublime Mozart and not-so-sublime Noel Edmonds

Anyone read this ? Anyone hear Mozart’s sublime C minor Mass under Sir John Eliot Gardiner at 11 this morning on ‘Essential Classics’? And will you be listening to Gardiner’s Monteverdi Prom tonight? Trawl through the Radio Times and pick on any day to check out the riches on offer on Radio 3. Irrelevant? What, the very hub of our national culture? OK, I may be a R3 presenter but  …. what utter tripe! Please react


46 thoughts on “Sublime Mozart and not-so-sublime Noel Edmonds

  1. Noel Edmonds is achieving what he set out to do i.e. Shameless advertising of his new radio project. however, his comment regarding classic Fm & Radio 3’s place in the media does bear some scrutiny. I am old enough to remember a time before the arrival of Classic FM. In those days I was an avid listener of Radio 3 but, with the coming of the newer station, I was uncomfortably aware that radio3 began to remodel itself along the lines of ClassicFM. in my opinion, the consequence was that radio3 devalued itself, instead of creating a greater distinction between itself and its ‘rival’. I think it certainly is true that, if radio3 wishes to survive, it must carve out a more definite role for itself and seek to motivate and innovate, rather than trying to chase the same old market.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Roz – please believe that I’m not playing politics if I assure you that we’re winning back that ‘distinction’ with a vengeance. Listen, for starters, to Essential Classics and the big works that we play after 11 am. Quality music, all of it – mostly in truly remarkable performances. Best. Rob


  2. Sue Black

    Please don’t be upset, Rob. We need to feel sorry for those who can’t hear great music. They are in the majority so we are supposed to be elitist. I’ve replied on the website you linked. Perhaps we should ourselves ponder on all the things we don’t have the necessary neural pathways for. In my case, motor bikes, mountaineering, modern jazz and golf. Many people are passionate about these well known pastimes, but they are lost on me and I’m frightened of some of them. In his case it’s great music. Poor chap.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well … I’m all for modern jazz myself, Sue, but not at Mozart’s expense. It seems that neither of us can quite believe that someone like Edmonds – a high achiever and all that – can’t put a toe beyond the threshold of great music. It might even change his life!


  3. Well, I was a working class lad in the sixties living in Salford. Radio 3 was my window on to the world of music. Through R3 I got to know Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Ravel, Debussy, Beethoven, Mozart and many others. Without R3 this would have been a closed book to me. I’m a great believer in the higher culture and the transcendent nature of music. To those who only value cash and listening figures the cultural education and enlightenment of thousands of people is unimportant. Thank you R3 for all you have meant and still mean to me.


  4. Geoff

    Why bother to respond to a such a cretin Rob? If he cannot appreciate the genius of such as Mozart and Bach all hope is lost – best leave him to to his ignorance and carry on with your inspiring selection of truly great music.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. allanevans565053587

    As awful as it is, we here in the USA are bereft of such concern for enlightened and informed presentation of Classical music. Programs are cancelled, public radio saturates with “human interest” features as they abolish classical coverage. It’s been stripped out of nearly all school curriculums so there’s little hope of an emergent body of listeners.


  6. Peter Baldwin

    Noel Edmonds has broadcast absolute banal rubbish on both radio and TV for years. His comments about Radio 3 can only stem from a burning jealousy. ‘Positively Happy Radio’? Please save me from idiots like this, if his intellect suggests that all music should be happy he should turn in his BBC pass.


    1. Well, you never know Peter – if it really IS very happy, maybe Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances (and Fifth Symphony, Scherzo capriccioso), Brahms’s Academic Festival Overture, Bach’s Brandenburgs and Handel’s Op.6, Mozart’s Haffner, Glinka’s Russlan Overture, Stravinsky’s Scherzo a la Russe … do you reckon he needs an adviser? Could this change his life?


      1. Peter Baldwin

        Sadly, some people are not open to advice as they know everything. But should he be, I’m sure that your suggestions would fit the bill. Very narrowly, he would have us listen to a repertoire that is hardly 50 years old where, if he jumped ship to us he’d have 600 plus. For me, happiness comes from something sung or played very simply or beautifully, often Early or Baroque. For example, Carlos Mena, Sances, Stabat Mater or Miriam Feursinger, Graupner, Ach Gott Und Herr. Perhaps. the wider. sadness is that a couple of hours of Jonathan Ross or Russel Brand type TV rubbish would probably finance R3 for twelve months. Please keep up the good work Rob, you”ve helped me to collect, listen and learn.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s a shameless attempt to raise controversy and interest in his own projects. He has been interviewed before as saying he could save the BBC. But it’s already in enough trouble from dumbing down; trying to compete with ITV and other commercial, big-hitting, pop-culture reality mainstream programmes. I wish the BBC would save itself through returning to the dear old Reithian values. And BBC R3, as some of your readers have said, did itself no favours by trying to be more like Classic FM. Great music (not hideous ‘bleeding chunks’ and unsubtly juxtaposed tiny pieces) speaks for itself, but where commentary is needed, let it be with authority, dignity and no hint of ego. I may sound old-fashioned, but I count myself still in the young bracket and it did me no harm growing up with this….


      1. but Rebecca, you DID grow up with it – what about those who don’t or didn’t? It’s very easy to CFM bash, but I know a lot of people who have come to know and love classical music through it, and who find Radio 3 with it’s much less intimidating style these days, a more accessible experience. No-one wants two cloned stations, of course not, but there are valuable things to be learned from how CFM have done things, that can be transferred without a wholesale replication!


      2. CFM and R3 are simply adjoining rooms containing different things, R3 tending more towards the cerebral though the access afforded by CFM is invaluable and I am convinced it has facilitated a painless passage between the two. Best. R.


  8. Public service radio doesn’t need Noel Edmunds. Let him go and earn his Dollars where he can build on the millions the BBC already made possible for him. Strange how people who prefer classical music don’t make public pronouncements that pop music stations should be closed down. In truth, there is a greater argument for publicly financed broadcasting supporting programming that would have to fight to be heard in the purely commercial sector. Anyone who can’t hear the difference in programming priorities between Radio 3 and Classic FM has no understanding of either of them. I wouldn’t like to think of the jamboree Classic FM would make of the Proms, and I doubt they would have the wherewithal to support their own orchestras. Why can’t he accept that there is a plurality in musical tastes that the BBC does an excellent job of catering for? Listening to music to “feel happy” – his stated cultural goal – is the fast-track to fascism – believe me, it’s been tried before.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. PJ

    Perhaps Mr Edmonds’ excuse for such suggestions will be put down to an effort to cause some debate. On the other hand, it’s possible he really does believe it.

    Fortunately, it seems unlikely he’ll be able to buy the BBC.


    1. I’ve a feeling he really believes it Peter. After all for the majority of people music as we know and love it isn’t really ‘music’ but an alien experience. Which makes Radio 3 – and Classic FM for that matter – such important aspects of our national consciousness. What matters is the potential for that chance encounter with a great work … it happened with me and I’m sure it happened with many people who are reading this strand. There was next to no classical music in my childhood home. But one day I turned on the Third Programme (Bartók Miraculous Mandarin) … and that was it, though I’d already been caught up with some Wagner!


  10. Robert

    I looked at the article, and the comments were pretty caustic. The Radio 3 fans were out in force! Mr. Edmonds seems about as qualified to assess the worth of Radio 3 as an illiterate would be to review Shakespeare.

    And a P.S. The future of classical radio in the States doesn’t seem bright, but there are some remarkable exceptions: KING in Seattle, WQXR in New York, WFMT in Chicago, KUSC in LA, and WCLV in Cleveland all offer excellent classical programming. And they’re all available online too!


    1. Does “excellent programming” include performances with house orchestras, original commissions, and live concerts, or simply one CD track being played after another? I’m asking as I genuinely do not know. But these have traditionally been the areas that large European state-broadcasters have been able to make contributions. I realise that the MET performances are broadcast, but what about local concerts, ensembles etc?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Michael – I think ‘excellent programming’ is a very broad brief. For example, the R3 programme Words and Music where poetry and prose alternates with music is, for me, a superb example of just how ‘excellent’ programming can be. Good CD sequencing, the same. Anyone in charge of programmes, whether live or recorded, needs to be mindful of various issues. Sometimes a single composer marathon can work (as R3 has done in the past with Beethoven, Bach and Mozart), at other times contrast is the key – individual works illuminating their near neighbours. With operas I think we’re talking ‘seasons’, a very different issue. Best. Rob.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Robert

        Dear Michael,

        Yes, indeed! I know WCLV in Cleveland best, since I grew up there and often return, and they produce and syndicate for worldwide distribution the Cleveland Orchestra broadcasts. They also produce a whole series of local shows such as “The Cleveland Orchestra Preview,” “The Black Arts,” contemporary music, etc. WQXR produces and distributes the New York Philharmonic broadcasts, I believe, and has an excellent website. KUSC produces the superb show “The Record Shelf” with Jim Svejda, who does historical retrospectives on great artists (john McCormick, Fritz Reiner, etc.), comparisons of great interpretations of various works, and reviews of current releases. I’d listen to it more–he’s really great–but copyright restrictions prevent it from being archived as a podcast, and the time difference makes it hard for me to tune in when it’s broadcast. So there’s a lot of quite good classical coverage in the states. An encouraging sign is that the Boston classical station, WCRB, now has available for streaming an entire season of the Boston Symphony’s concert broadcasts! You can find them here:

        I hope other stations and orchestras in the US will follow this example. Cleveland only has two archived concerts available at the WCLV website, though they stream live virtually all the Cleveland Orchestra concerts.

        I totally love BBC 3, but the best of the US classical stations offer excellent local coverage, great music, and home-produced shows that add up to quite a resource for the classical fan.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. Yes, you’ve explained that well, Rob, with your ‘two adjoining rooms’ idea. Of course, not everyone grew up with R3 and I don’t wish the insult those who have come to enjoy and understand classical music more through CFM. Of course it has done valuable work. I didn’t mean to cause offence and hope I have not done so. I suppose I resent the bashing of intelligent and well-informed treasures by anyone who just dismisses things, with the suggestion that highbrow is unreachable and without meaning for everyone. It’s a difficult debate, but as money is tight, we feel we have to defend and justify things which should be preserved. Perhaps R3 has had to evolve naturally and I applaud the great work being done! Thanks for your good wishes Rob, Long may R3 continue to grow also! (Without the interference of bleached-bearded, blobby-creating egotists…)


  12. John Harper

    Although our culture cannot get any stupider, human intelligence may continue on its downward trajectory. And I’m confident we can go even lower. We must keep striving to find new depths of idiocy.


  13. Steven Swalbe

    Rob! What did that moron Edmond (never could bear him) actually say? I’m all for ‘bashing’ him for his type of remedial ideas and broadcasting.



    Rob! You are being very polite about a #moronic #buffoon. Can’t wait to read about his epitaph. I am more outspoken. No idea what he said. All I know is that he is part of the cause of my hating TV in the last 20 years. The #BBC has employed so much abysmal trash during the last two decades that has dumbed the dumbed down even further. #Hall (Covent garden) is as useful as a gnat’s fart. #Proms are either for elitists or the lowest denominations. I will curtail this, before…………


  15. I do enjoy Radio 3 – especially Essential Classics and CD Review. But I’m currently reading John Eliot Gardiner’s “Castle of Heaven” with the help of Spotify, and I can see how much choice is now available and the changes IT is bringing about. Maybe your next contract will be with Spotify?


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