I’m a big fan of Desert Island Discs, a BBC Radio 4 program. Created in 1941, the show is an institution in Great Britain. The premise is simple, described here in this quote from the show’s website.
That first Desert Island Discs was recorded in the BBC’s bomb-damaged Maida Vale studio on 27th January 1942 and aired in the Forces Programme at 8pm two days later. It was introduced to the listening public as “a programme in which a well-known person is asked the question, if you were to be cast away alone on a desert island, which eight gramophone records would you choose to have with you, assuming of course, that you had a gramophone and an inexhaustible supply of needles”.
There are similar shows in this country, but none that I’m aware of with the prestige and breadth of Desert Island Discs. If you can imagine conductor Michael Tilson Thomas hosting a show like Saturday Night Live, that might approximate the scope of the BBC radio program. The spectrum of personalities who have appeared on the show range from Dennis Brain to J.K. Rowling and Margaret Thatcher. Asking people about their favorite music might seem like a superficial way to interview them, but it’s obvious from the reputation and longevity of Desert Island Discs that there is much more to it than the average radio show. Especially in the case of artists like Dennis Brain – who were tragically lost at a young age – each list of recordings stands as a small window into their lives and personality. Looking at Brain’s list (aired in March, 1956), there are the usual items that would probably appear on any horn player’s list – music by Richard Strauss, Franz Liszt, and Benjamin Britten – but recordings by Tommy Dorsey, Mitch Miller, and Frank Sinatra also have significant positions. Other prominent horn players who have appeared on the show include Barry Tuckwell and Alan Civil.Tuckwell’s broadcast is also notable because it is available for download from the Desert Island Discs archive.
Ok, now that you’ve been introduced to the show, it’s your turn! I’d love to hear which eight recordings you’d take with you to a deserted island. They can be any genre, and can be individual tracks or entire albums. Here’s my list, in no particular order. If there are enough responses perhaps it might be worth adding a thread to the “Horn People” group on Facebook or creating a separate group entirely for people to post their lists.
1. Shared Reflections: The Legacy of Philip Farkas
2. The London Horn Sound
3. John Williams, Saving Private Ryan, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
4. Gabriel Fauré, Requiem and Orchestral Music, Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse, Michel Plasson
5. Burkhard Dallwitz, The Truman Show, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
6. Alison Krauss, Now That I’ve Found You
7. Empire Brass, Class Brass: Orchestral Favorites Arranged for Brass
8. Gustav Mahler: The Symphonies, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti *Not sure if this would be allowed on the actual Desert Island Discs since it is a multi-disc set. If I had to choose one of the symphonies I would probably go with Symphony No. 2.