Desert Island Discs

BBC Radio 4

Society & Culture, Personal Journals

Chart Positions

Personal Journals 31
Society & Culture 198

Desert Island Discs was created by Roy Plomley in 1942, and the format is simple: a guest is invited by Kirsty Young to choose the eight records they would take with them to a desert island


Thomas Quasthoff

February 1st, 2009

Episode 36 of 602 episodes

Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff. He has performed in concert halls the world over under the batons of the finest conductors and, while he made his name as a Lieder singer, he's equally popular for his jazz, spiritual and gospel recordings. Music critics say he is "one of the great singers of our time and one of the most remarkable of any time." That his life has been remarkable is a reference to his disability: he was born suffering the effects of Thalidomide and although his early musical talent was spotted, his inability to play the piano meant he was not allowed to take up a place at a conservatoire. In this candid and moving interview, though, he describes how, with his family's support, he went on to build a highly successful career. Now, living contentedly with his wife and daughter, he says his life is a full and satisfying one. He adds that when he sees how readily people become consumed by envy and resentment, he questions whether that too isn't a kind of disability. [Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs] Favourite track: The Adagietto from 5th symphony by Gustav Mahler Book: Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela Luxury: Good wine.

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