Monday 22 May marks Kate Molleson’s debut in the Composer of the Week presenting seat, as she joins Donald Macleod to introduce 10 series  of the programme in 2023.

Macleod has been the voice of Composer of the Week since 1999, introducing approximately 950 series, exploring the minds behind the music.  For her debut on the programme, Kate Molleson presents a week of five special programmes marking 100 years since György Ligeti’s birth.

Donald Macleod says: “It has been my great privilege to present Composer of the Week singlehandedly  for – unbelievably – very nearly a quarter of a century, clocking  up a total of getting on for a thousand weeks! 

It seems to me rather selfish to keep one of the best jobs in broadcasting to myself, so I’m delighted that, as of the end of this month,  as I’ve passed a rather significant birthday and we’re about to mark the 80th anniversary of the programme, I’ll be sharing it with Kate Molleson.”

Kate Molleson says: “Well! It’s a huge and frankly daunting honour to be joining a programme I’ve listened to all my life – Composer of the Week was a soundtrack  to my childhood and genuinely formative in developing my own musical obsessions. Donald Macleod is the ultimate gentleman broadcaster… a true statesman of the airwaves with an awesome gentle gravitas to his delivery. Clearly there’s no point in me trying  to emulate that (!) so it’s a fun challenge working with the brilliant Composer of the Week producers to bring my own voice and perspective to the programme while respecting its heritage and not messing with the substance. Because it’s that substance which  makes this my dream job: breathing life into the cultural context around classical music, widening the lens in terms of whose stories we tell, and telling those stories with passion and pride.

Listings Information

Monday 22 – Friday 26 May

Composer of the Week: Ligeti

12:00 – 13:00

Making her debut as presenter on Composer of the Week, Kate Molleson introduces the first of ten weeks on the programme  this year, joining Donald Macleod, who presents the show on all the other weeks. On her first Composer of the Week series, Kate introduces five programmes marking the 100th anniversary of György Ligeti’s birth.

Known to millions through the film director Stanley Kubrick’s use of his music in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Ligeti’s music  reflects the seismic events taking place in central Europe in the mid-twentieth century – shifting borders, war, totalitarianism and for many, exile. These harrowing experiences all made a deep imprint on him and his music.

Ligeti regarded the whole world as the material for his music. He was fascinated by anything and everything: philosophy, science, the arts, literature – Alice in Wonderland was one of his favourite books. The week features many of Ligeti’s best loved works  including the sonata for cello, Apparitions, Lontano, Clocks and Clouds and Melodien. From the piano, Danny Driver, a huge Ligeti enthusiast, opens up the magical universe the composer creates in his piano music, with a special focus on the three sets of piano  studies presented throughout the week.

Monday 22 May: Frontiers

While music, science, literature and folk music were all part of young György‘s childhood, when it came to choosing a career, his father believed a career in medicine or chemistry was the right route for his talented son.

Tuesday 23 May: Risk and Reward

Social unrest in Hungary was growing, and by the autumn of 1956 it was clear  that the occupying Russian forces’ hold over the country was insecure. In the freezing cold early weeks of December, Ligeti and his wife Vera embarked on a perilous journey.

Wednesday 24 May: Time Past and Present

During the 1980s Ligeti was taking stock, hungry for new ideas. His research  encompassed the player-piano wizardry of Conlon Nancarrow, the music of Central Africa and the 14th century composer Guillaume de Machaut. The results of his enquiries set the musical world alight. The episode features guest contributor pianist Danny Driver.

Thursday 25 May: Renewal and Regeneration

Puzzles, paradoxes and illusions provided Ligeti with the inspiration for his  piano studies. He was always on the hunt for the new, but this didn’t prevent him from returning to the music of his Hungarian roots.

Friday 26 May: Building Blocks

While he was battling to complete his piano concerto, Ligeti wrote his Trio for  violin, horn and piano. Some critics accused him of trading in his modernist credentials.

Producer: Johannah Smith

An R&M Production – Wales