When the Royal Academy of Music opened its doors to its first 20 students in 1823, there were equal numbers of boys and girls. In this first episode, Anna Picard traces the stories of some of the women of the Academy including Fanny Dickens, the elder sister of Charles Dickens. We also hear from the participants of a pioneering women-only conducting course and try to unravel what playing in a gendered way might mean. Along the way there is, as always, some glorious music from Academy students.

  • Presenter: Anna Picard
  • Producer: Natalie Steed
  • Contributors: Kathryn Adamson, Briony Cox-Williams, Phyllis Weliver, Jonathan Freeman- Attwood, Hannah Stell, Elizabeth Kenny, Lucy Powell, Sian Edwards, Peggy Wu, Beth Fitzpatrick
  • Voice of Frederick Corder: Michael Bertenshaw
  • Executive Producers, Royal Academy of Music: George Chambers, Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Safi Schlicht

All the music in this episode is performed by Royal Academy of Music students:

  • Mozart Serenade in B flat, K 361, ‘Gran Partita’, performed by Royal Academy of Music Symphonic Wind
  • Haydn String Quartet in G, Op 77 No 1 (second movement), performed by the Echea Quartet
  • Ferdinand David Trombone Concertino, Op 4, performed by Hannah Stell
  • Tchaikovsky The Queen of Spades, Op 68, performed by Hannah Stell
  • Wagner Ride of the Valkyries performed by Hannah Stell
  • Rebecca Clarke Ave Maria performed by Milette Gillow and Ivy Liang
  • Rebecca Clarke The Cloths of Heaven performed by Lauren Macleod and Stella Marie Lorenz
  • Schubert Symphony No 4 in C minor, D 417, 'Tragic', performed by the Academy Chamber Orchestra with Lorenza Borrani

About the Podcast

Since the Royal Academy of Music was founded in 1822, its aim has been to shape the future of music by discovering and nurturing talent wherever it exists.

To mark our bicentenary, we've created this podcast to celebrate and uncover some of the stories of those people, past and present, that resonate throughout our building and define the institution. You'll hear about those working and studying at the Academy today, some of the famous people that have passed through our doors as well as those whose musical lives might have been overlooked but deserve to be told.