On Sunday 28 September, Marin appeared on BBC Radio 4′s Desert Island Discs, joining a list of many esteemed guests since the program’s first broadcast in 1942. Presented by Kirsty Young, guests are invited to imagine themselves cast away on a desert island and to choose eight pieces of music, a book (castaways are automatically given the Complete Works of Shakespeare and the Bible) and a luxury to take with them. They then discuss their choices and excerpts from their choices are played.
Here were Marin’s choices:
1. Johannes Brahms: String Sextet in B-
This is a very special piece because this was the moment in my life when I suddenly understood that music has the capacity to move us as human beings, and certainly moved me. I was probably 11 or 12 years old and I was at a summer chamber music festival and I was walking down the hallway of the dorm, and something caught my ear. The CD of this piece, the B flat Sextet by Johannes Brahms, was playing and I sat down outside this door, and I remember for the first time being moved to tears by music.
2. Aretha Franklin: RESPECT
This is fun, this is much more about the environment I grew up in, which was a very liberal home-life with a mum who was pro women’s lib. She loved this tune, and me too.
3. Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 9, 4th movement
I’ve chosen the fourth movement of Mahler’s ninth Symphony with Bernstein conducting. I think Bernstein’s relationship to Mahler, his complete devotion to every single piece he conducted, but especially to Mahler, is all consuming and for me, Bernstein was this inspirational all consuming figure.
4. Leonard Bernstein: Mass
This is an excerpt from Bernstein’s seminal composition, Mass, a piece that was premiered in 1972 and roundly criticized. I believe it was one of the great statements of 20th century music, not only musically, but also politically.
5. Stéphane Grappelli – solo from Duke Ellington’s ‘It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing’
When we started Swing Fever I started listening like crazy to jazz and especially jazz violin players. My favourite was, as you can imagine, Stéphane Grappelli, and I used to go hear him play live all the time. And this particular tune is a solo of Grappelli’s to Duke Ellington’s tune ‘It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing’. I spent an entire week transcribing note by note this solo, and I believe if you handed me a violin now I could actually still play it!
6. Béla Bartók: Contrasts
This is a piece that a played when I was a freshman at Yale. I had a chamber music seminar course, and I remember when I was assigned this piece, I thought to myself ‘oh my god, I hate contemporary music!’, (I was only 16 at the time), and I remember telling my mum and dad ‘I hate new music, I’m never going to play contemporary music.’ It was Bartok, and of course as it turned out I fell in love with this particular piece, with Bartok in general, and it really opened a whole new door for me to contemporary music. I’m a huge advocate.
7. Robert Schumann: Piano Quartet in E flat major, Op. 47
This is the slow movement from Robert Schumann’s Piano Quartet and this is a very very special piece for me because I often played this with my parents, my mother on cello, my father would play viola and our dear friend who was I had known since birth, he played in a trio with my mum, Seymour Bernstein. So this is a very very special piece.
8. Johannes Brahms: Requiem, 4th movement
Full circle now coming back to Brahms. This is an excerpt from the Brahms Requiem, which to me is a piece which speaks to the greatness of the human spirit. The fact that it’s non- denominational and Brahms thought he’d originally like to call it a human requiem, I think this appeals to me not only musically, but intellectually, emotionally and in every possible way.
This took a lot of thought but I think I would take the collective writing of Carl Jung so I could really explore the stories of the bible and the stories of Shakespeare on every level.
I think I would ask for a complete pottery studio. My mum so loved pottery and that tactile experience, so with that I could not only make practical things but also art.
To listen again to Marin on Desert Island Discs, download the podcast. The broadcast is repeated on Friday 3 October at 9am BST.