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Your Hundred Best Tunes

Your Hundred Best Tunes
Genre Music
Running time 60 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Home station BBC Light Programme
BBC Home Service
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 2
Host(s) Alan Keith (1959–2003)
Richard Baker (2003–2007)
No. of episodes approximately 2500

Your Hundred Best Tunes was a long-running BBC radio music programme, always broadcast on Sunday evenings, which presented popular works which were mostly classical excerpts, choral works, opera and ballads. The hundred tunes which made up the playlist were initially selected by the creator and presenter, Alan Keith. Subsequently, tunes were suggested by requests and polls of listeners.[1]

It was first broadcast on 15 November 1959 on the BBC Light Programme under the title The Hundred Best Tunes in the World which it used until 7 February 1960, when Alan Keith's personal list of one hundred had all been played. The more familiar title was adopted from 14 February 1960 onwards. At this point it ran for half an hour from 10 to 10.30 pm, but from 25 December 1960 it was extended and moved to earlier in the evening, running from 7.35 to 8.30 pm. From 12 March 1961 it adopted the 9 to 10 pm time slot which it would occupy for the rest of its life, on four different networks: it moved from the Light Programme to the Home Service from 5 January 1964, and remained there after it became Radio 4 from 1 October 1967, but returned to what had been the Light Programme, now renamed Radio 2, from 5 April 1970.

The last show was transmitted on 21 January 2007 – a remarkable run of over 47 years. For most of this time, it was presented by the original creator, Alan Keith, who continued up to the age of 94. After his death in 2003,[2] Richard Baker presented the show.[3] Holiday guest presenters included Lady Evelyn Barbirolli, Rosalind Runcie, Earl Spencer and Ursula Vaughan Williams.[4][5]

The show was terminated by controversial BBC controller Lesley Douglas, who replaced it with a longer Melodies for You, presented by Alan Titchmarsh, which continued to play music from the same repertoire until it too was cancelled in 2011.[6]

The hundred best tunes

Polls were taken to confirm the choice of the hundred best tunes. The results of the last poll in 2003 are below. The previous poll was in 1997 and the position of each work in that earlier poll is shown in parentheses.

  1. "Au fond du temple saint" from The Pearl Fishers by Georges Bizet (1)
  2. "Nimrod" from Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar (16)
  3. "Va, pensiero" from Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi (22)
  4. Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor by Max Bruch (12)
  5. Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel (52)
  6. Clarinet Concerto in A by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (33)
  7. Symphony No. 6 in F (Pastoral) by Ludwig van Beethoven (27)
  8. Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff (8)
  9. "Intermezzo" from Cavalleria rusticana by Pietro Mascagni (23)
  10. The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams (–)
  11. Finlandia by Jean Sibelius (2)
  12. Symphony No. 9 in D Minor 'Choral' by Ludwig van Beethoven (5)
  13. The Planets by Gustav Holst (9)
  14. "Ombra mai fu" from Serse by George Frideric Handel (17)
  15. Piano Concerto No. 21 in C by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (25)
  16. Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber (14)
  17. Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat 'Emperor' by Ludwig van Beethoven (24)
  18. "Méditation" from Thaïs by Jules Massenet (39)
  19. Symphony No. 9 in E Minor From the New World by Antonín Dvořák (36)
  20. Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Ralph Vaughan Williams (–)
  21. Ave Verum Corpus by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (28)
  22. Miserere mei, DeusPsalm 51 by Gregorio Allegri (–)
  23. "Hallelujah!" from Messiah by George Frideric Handel (32)
  24. "Laudate Dominum" from Solemn Vespers by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (–)
  25. "Romance" from The Gadfly Suite by Dmitri Shostakovich (29)
  26. Zadok the Priest, one of the Coronation Anthems by George Frideric Handel (68)
  27. "Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" from Solomon by George Frideric Handel (38)
  28. Piano Concerto in A minor by Edvard Grieg (–)
  29. "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" by Johann Sebastian Bach (85)
  30. Cello Concerto in E Minor by Edward Elgar (6)
  31. "What is Life?" from Orfeo ed Euridice by Christoph Willibald Gluck performed by Kathleen Ferrier(30)
  32. "Baïlèro" from Songs of the Auvergne by Joseph Canteloube (18)
  33. The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss II (–)
  34. "Listen to the Mocking Bird" by Septimus Winner (as Alice Hawthorne) (42)
  35. "Song to the Moon" from Rusalka by Antonín Dvořák (4)
  36. "Bells Across The Meadows" by Albert Ketèlbey (–)
  37. Symphony No. 3 (Organ) by Camille Saint-Saëns (–)
  38. Pomp and Circumstance No. 1 by Edward Elgar (31)
  39. Violin Concerto in E Minor by Felix Mendelssohn (40)
  40. "Che gelida manina" from La bohème by Giacomo Puccini (89)
  41. The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi (–)
  42. Symphony No. 5 by Ludwig van Beethoven (–)
  43. "Panis Angelicus" by César Franck (13)
  44. "I Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls" from The Bohemian Girl by Michael William Balfe (–)
  45. Piano Concerto No. 1 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (–)
  46. "Grand March" from Aida by Giuseppe Verdi (26)
  47. "A Londonderry Air" – traditional, arranged by Percy Grainger (59) – this was the theme tune
  48. The Merry Widow by Franz Lehár (67)
  49. "Nessun dorma" from Turandot by Giacomo Puccini (51)
  50. Cantique de Jean Racine by Gabriel Fauré (–)
  51. "In Paradisum" from Requiem by Gabriel Fauré (–)
  52. Symphony No. 7 by Ludwig van Beethoven (–)
  53. Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Johann Sebastian Bach (–)
  54. Adagio in G minor by Tomaso Albinoni (–)
  55. "Judex" from Mors et vita by Charles Gounod (–)
  56. Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini by Sergei Rachmaninoff (–)
  57. Warsaw Concerto by Richard Addinsell (–)
  58. "Adagio" from Spartacus by Aram Khachaturian (–)
  59. Romeo and Juliet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (–)
  60. "Don't Be Cross" from The Master Miner (Der Obersteiger) by Carl Zeller (79)
  61. "Sanctus" from German Mass (Deutsche Messe) by Franz Schubert (20)
  62. "I know that my Redeemer liveth" from Messiah by George Frideric Handel (10)
  63. "Love Duet" from Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini (15)
  64. Fantasia on Greensleeves by Ralph Greaves (from Sir John in Love by Ralph Vaughan Williams) (–)
  65. Symphony No. 2 by Sergei Rachmaninoff (–)
  66. Fingal's Cave by Felix Mendelssohn (–)
  67. "Polovetsian Dances" from Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin (–)
  68. The Yeomen of the Guard by Gilbert and Sullivan (–)
  69. Schindler's List Theme by John Williams (–)
  70. Symphony No. 5 (Adagietto) by Gustav Mahler (–)
  71. "Sanctus" from St. Cecilia Mass by Charles Gounod (–)
  72. Scheherezade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (–)
  73. "Old Comrades" ("Alte Kameraden") by Carl Teike (11)
  74. The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (–)
  75. "Nuns' Chorus" from Casanova by Ralph Benatzky (based on Johann Strauss II) (7)
  76. 1812 Overture by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (–)
  77. "Jerusalem" by Hubert Parry (58)
  78. "Morning Mood" from Peer Gynt Suites by Edvard Grieg (47)
  79. Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquín Rodrigo (–)
  80. "Dance of the Blessed Spirits" from Orfeo ed Euridice by Christoph Willibald Gluck (–)
  81. "Casta diva" from Norma by Vincenzo Bellini (–)
  82. The Nutcracker Suite by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (–)
  83. "Softly Awakes My Heart" from Samson and Delilah by Camille Saint-Saëns (49)
  84. Eine kleine Nachtmusik by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (–)
  85. "Ave Maria" by Franz Schubert (43)
  86. "O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini (–)
  87. Moonlight Sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven (–)
  88. "Sheep May Safely Graze" by Johann Sebastian Bach (–)
  89. "Where Corals Lie" from Sea Pictures by Edward Elgar (–)
  90. Concerto for Two Violins in D minor by Johann Sebastian Bach (–)
  91. Clair de lune by Claude Debussy (–)
  92. The Creation by Joseph Haydn (77)
  93. Crown Imperial by William Walton (–)
  94. "On the Road to Mandalay" by Oley Speaks (–)
  95. Romance No. 2 in F major by Ludwig van Beethoven (–)
  96. The Watermill by Ronald Binge (35)
  97. The Holy City by Frederic Weatherly and Stephen Adams (–)
  98. "Bredon Hill" from A Shropshire Lad by Graham Peel (–)
  99. William Tell Overture from William Tell by Gioachino Rossini (–)
  100. Hear My Prayer by Felix Mendelssohn (–)

Other media

Alan Keith published a book about the music played in the show.[7] The Decca Record Company published a successful ten-volume series of records with the title The World of Your 100 Best Tunes.[8] The BBC published a six-CD collection of the music selected by the final poll listed above.


  1. ^ Bizet's The Pearl Fishers named nation's favourite tune, BBC, 12 October 2003 
  2. ^ "Alan Keith (obituary)", The Daily Telegraph, 18 March 2003 
  3. ^ Plunkett, John (10 January 2007), "Titchmarsh replaces Radio 2's Your Hundred Best Tunes", The Guardian 
  4. ^ Donovan, Paul (21 January 2007), "End Game", The Sunday Times 
  5. ^ Your 100 Best Tunes, Radio Rewind 
  6. ^ Paul Donovan (9 November 2008), "Ross and Brand: Radio 2 clean up their act", The Times (UK) 
  7. ^ Keith, Alan (1975), Your Hundred Best Tunes, J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd., ISBN 0-460-04214-9 
  8. ^ "Your Hundred Best Tunes", Gramophone, December 1975: 129