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David Starkey’s Music and Monarchy

David Starkey’s Music and Monarchy

Sat Jul 20, 8.10-9.10pm, BBC2

By Anna Smith
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Episode one
David Starkey traces the history of the monarchy through music – or indeed vice versa – in this new four-part series. Rather than delivering an exhaustive exploration of each monarch, he highlights specific character traits brought out by their relationship with music, looking at the impact this made on political and religious history.

First up in ‘Crown and Country’ are Henrys V and VIII, both composers, and Queen Elizabeth I. Locations are suitably grand: the camera pans lovingy over Canterbury Cathedral as the choir performs one of Henry V’s rare compositions, while Starkey delights in hand-illuminated choir books at Eton College – ‘far too good for the likes of choir boys,’ he snorts with his usual tact.

till, the idiosyncratic presentation fits the bill, while experts are informative and performances are delightful. The next episode, ‘Revolutions’, looks at the seventeenth-century religious conflicts and will feature the Westminster Abbey choir.
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