From the bees on the roof to one of the finest violins in the world, the Academy is full of surprising treasures. In this episode, Anna Picard introduces people and parts of the building that listeners might not know about, and discovers what goes on behind the scenes to ensure that the Academy’s remarkable collection of instruments will be played by generations to come. Including singing from an original Elizabethan part book, an introduction to Oliver Knussen’s beloved collection of owls, and violinist James Ehnes playing a priceless Stradivarius, the stories behind these objects unlock the history of the Academy.

  • Presenter: Anna Picard
  • Producer: Natalie Steed
  • Contributors: Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Ian Brearey, Kathryn Adamson, Patrick Russill, Barbara Meyer, IJmkje van der Werfe, James Ehnes, Sheldon Gabriel, Philip Cashian
  • Executive Producers, Royal Academy of Music: George Chambers, Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Safi Schlicht

Featured music:

  • JS Bach Adagio from Sonata in G minor, BWV 1001, performed by James Ehnes
  • Beethoven Symphony No 8 in F, Op 93, performed by the Academy Chamber Orchestra with Lorenza Borrani
  • Mendelssohn A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed by the Academy Symphony Orchestra with Andrew Gourlay
  • Tallis O Nata Lux performed by Academy students Isla MacEwan, Anita Monserrat, Samuel Kibble, Henry Ross, Charles Cunliffe
  • JS Bach Largo from Sonata in C, BWV 1005, performed by James Ehnes
  • Stravinsky Marche triomphale du diable from L’histoire du soldat performed by the Academy Manson Ensemble with Oliver Knussen

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.