Saturday, 1 November 2014

A Glimmer of Intelligence at the BBC

I don’t usually bother much with Beeb World Service any more. The five-minute news summaries are quite good and usually read by someone who knows how to speak English, but the half-hour programme about — what? ‘World Events’? Something like that — is relentlessly trivial, rushing through boring stuff like wars and plagues to get with all-too-evident relief and glee to the important business of ‘Sport’, i.e. football, pronounced ‘Foop-Baw!’

However, on Saturday and Sunday mornings I sometimes give BBC a try, because at weekends VOA replaces its excellent International Edition with what it calls ‘Free-wheeling, no-holds-barred discussions’ which run the gamut from the A of whole-hearted approval of all things American to the B of muted criticism of Mrs Obama’s hair-do.

This Saturday morning between 5.30 and 6 A.M.G.M.T., BBC had the first of a new weekend series about ‘How the world has changed during the past week’; a title vague enough to allow for anything, and the presenter and/or script writer seemed to be not only intelligent but to allow the possibility that listeners too might have the odd brain cell. But this is only the first programme in the series; no doubt it will soon be dumbed down.

Let’s enjoy it while we can: the most interesting and important item today, though only about 30 seconds was given to it, is that careful examination of the manuscripts, together with musicians’ critical opinions of the music itself, suggest that Bach’s ’Cello Suites may have been written not by JS himself, but by Anna Magdalena, his second wife; you know, she of the ‘Notenbuchlein’, the joy or bane of novice pianists, which was (or most of it) certainly written by JS for AM.

I have been told to keep blog posts short, to match your pitiful attention-spans, so I will wait until tomorrow to write more about this interesting possibility.

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