Robert Rinder hopes classical music series will shed new light on LGBT composers

TV judge Robert Rinder said he hopes his new series about LGBT classical music figures will offer a more complete picture of their lives.

The broadcaster and barrister will present Classical Passions on Classic FM.

It will explore the lives of some of the genre’s biggest names, including Tchaikovsky and Benjamin Britten, who as well as being titans of music were also gay.

The six-part series is described as being very personal for Rinder, who has a love of classical music.

Robert Rinder
Robert Rinder will present a new classical music show on Classic FM, looking at another dimension of some of the genre’s biggest names (Classic FM/PA)

Rinder, who is gay, said delving into the composers’ personal lives will give the audience a greater understanding of their work.

He told the PA news agency: “They weren’t composers or performers or conductors because they were gay, but they are gay performers.

“And by talking about that, what we’re doing is shining a light on that and giving them a completeness of their whole story.”

Rinder said the passion often expressed in music is a shared experience
“that can breathe and sing in classical music”.

“And it’s a shared experience, regardless of to whom that’s expressed,” he said. “But for many of the performers, composers and conductors, they have to live their lives in a hidden way. So now we can free that story up. And I think it’s a really kind of joyous thing to do.”

Rinder, who said he firmly believes classical music should be for everyone rather than an elite pastime, addressed potential listeners who may question why a composer’s sexuality is worthy of exploration.

“It matters insofar as we know their full story,” he told PA. “So when you feel loved, perhaps if you’re straight, you know that I have a shared feeling with you. You know when you feel delight and joy, that delight and joy I share with you.

“And for somebody that didn’t grow up around classical music, and also grew around an environment where being gay wasn’t such an acceptable thing, before the world changed so happily and joyously for me, music was that expression.”

Robert Rinder
Judge Robert Rinder said he firmly believes classical music should belong to everybody – instead of being an elite pastime (Isabel Infantes/PA)

In the first episode of Classical Passions, Rinder, 43, marks American Independence Day.

He begins with composer Aaron Copland, credited by some with founding the 20th century American classical sound.

Explaining his love for classical music, Rinder said the series is “the best gig I’ve ever had,” adding the genre belongs to everybody.

“When it comes to culture, and especially to music, there are no lanes to stay in,” he said. “And so that’s why I’m really passionate about classical music.”

Robert Rinder’s Classical Passions will be broadcast every Sunday (9pm to 10pm), from July 4 to August 8 on Classic FM.