Sunday, 2 December 2012

Napoleon Week on the BBC

In commemoration of the retreat from Moscow in 1812, an event of far more significance than Waterloo, Radio 3 is currently scheduling a number of programmes about Napoleon.

The first, broadcast yesterday (1st December) but still available online, was about Tchaikovsky's patriotic 1812 Overture Tchaikovsky A Dishonest Overture?

Napoleon is also the somewhat unlikely subject of Composer of the Week. As far as I am aware he never composed anything, although he did write a novel, but this daily programme, beginning tomorrow, is about Napoleon's musical tastes and his encouragement of music and the arts.

This evening there is Tolstoy and Napoleon, the first of three literary programmes, to be broadcast on successive Sundays,

which is followed tonight by Napoleon Rising, a play by Manchester born author Anthony Burgess, creator of A Clockwork Orange, who wrote a novel about Napoleon and a script for the Kubrick film that was never made.

Then each evening this week there is a short programme, Napoleon and Me, the first of which is about Julia Blackburn's searching for the "ghost of Napoleon" on St Helena.

Overall it looks like an interesting and slightly unusual perspective on Napoleon. I am particularly looking forward to hearing what Andrea Stuart has to say about the Empress Josephine, one of the most misunderstood women in history.

Perhaps the most interesting revelation from the advance publicity, and news to me at least, is that Richard Wagner attended Napoleon's Second Funeral to report the event for a German newspaper.

It is unfortunate though that someone in the BBC appears to think that Napoleon's ashes were returned from Corsica!

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