21 Sep 2018

Beauty Spot - a guaranteed moment of musical loveliness

From Daybreak, 9:40 am on 21 September 2018

Every weekday after the 8am news, RNZ Concert listeners are guaranteed a moment of musical loveliness in the Beauty Spot – and so it's been for the last 20 years.

Today's Beauty Spot:

McDowell: Romance

The Beauty Spot celebrated its 20th birthday in September, 2018. If there is a piece you think belongs in the Beauty Spot, email daybreak@radionz.co.nz

It's a weekday morning and RNZ's news bulletin is coming loudly out of Nola's kitchen radio - but, she isn't listening, she's busily filling a teapot and putting it on a tray next to her toast and marmalade.

"I want to get back to bed in time for the Beauty Spot," says the 83-year old pensioner who lives alone. "It's part of my daily routine."

Emma, a Wellington commuter, listens to the Beauty Spot in the car.

"I like to get my news," she says. "But then sometimes I just think ohhh GOD! What is the world coming to? ...And then this gorgeous music comes out of the radio. I look forward to it every morning - usually just as I'm passing the Johnsonville off-ramp."

The idea for a fixed spot of gentle, beautiful music every weekday morning was first introduced to RNZ Concert in September 1998 by former RNZ Programme Manager Elizabeth Alley.

RNZ Concert Production Manager Kate Mead then extended the idea to create two Beauty Spot CDs - the first of which received Gold status from Universal Music for its sales.

If there was ever any doubt about the Beauty Spot's popularity, it became clear in 2017 when current RNZ Concert Radio Programmer David Houston attempted to move it from after the 8am news to later in the hour.

"The overwhelming response was "Put it back NOW'," laughs Houston. "It was an experiment that told us people were definitely listening."

Many people arrange their mornings around the Beauty Spot to hear a piece of music that may make them cry or make them smile.

The only true criteria is that it must be... well, beautiful.

Take a moment with some of the best-loved pieces that have delivered a moment of solace to many a busy morning:

Canon in D by Pachelbel

Played in our very first Beauty Spot in September 1998. (It may be familiar to many listeners as music you're likely to hear at a wedding).


Nimrod from Elgar's Enigma Variations

This tearjerker is Elgar's tribute to his close friend Augustus Jaeger who had encouraged him when he'd been very depressed and about to give up on it all.


Adagio, from Clarinet Concerto by Mozart

From the film soundtrack to Out of Africa. It's performed here by Swedish clarinettist Martin Frost, who played it last year with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

O mio babbino caro, from Gianni Schicchi by Puccini

Made famous by the 1985 Merchant Ivory film Room with a View.

Adagio Sostenuto from Piano Sonata No 14, Moonlight by Beethoven

German Romantic poet Ludwig Rellstab coined the nickname to this sonata when he likened the first movement to a boat floating in the moonlight.

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