Tom Service


Tom Service (born 8 March 1976) is a British writer, music journalist and television and radio presenter, who has written regularly for The Guardian since 1999 and presented on BBC Radio 3 since 2001. He is a regular presenter of The Proms for Radio 3 and has presented several documentaries on the subject of classical music.

Tom Service
Tom Service.jpg
Born (1976-03-08) 8 March 1976 (age 46)
Glasgow, Scotland
Alma materUniversity of York, University of Southampton
OccupationWriter, journalist, radio and television presenter
Years active2001–present
Spouse(s)Alina Ibragimova (2015–2018)

Early lifeEdit

Service was born in Glasgow and attended Kelvinside Academy, where he learned cello and piano.[1]

He studied Music at the University of York, then studied for a masters in Music at the University of Southampton.[1] He wrote his PhD thesis on American composer and musician John Zorn.[2]



He joined BBC Radio 3 in 2001 presenting Hear and Now,[3] and from 2003 he has presented Music Matters.[4] From 2016, he started presenting a weekly show also on Radio 3, called The Listening Service, which drew comparisons to David Munrow's programme Pied Piper, which aired on the same station in the 1970s[5][6]

Since 2011 Service has presented The Proms,[7] broadcast on Radio 3, from the Royal Albert Hall and Cadogan Hall,[8] as well as presenting special editions of The Listening Service in 2017 exploring the musical pathways between featured composers and the BBC Proms Guide.[9]

In 2014 Service made the first of a series of documentaries with historian Amanda Vickery, produced by Reef Television for the BBC, titled Messiah at the Foundling Hospital. The programme received mixed reviews with The Daily Telegraph criticising the delivery of both presenters and its inaccuracies[10] and The Arts Desk being very positive.[11] A second film, La traviata: Love, Death and Divas followed in 2016.[12] The third film, also in 2016 with Amanda Vickery, was the documentary Leningrad & the Orchestra that Defied Hitler for BBC Two about the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the performance of Symphony No. 7 (Leningrad Symphony) by Dmitri Shostakovich.[13][14]

In 2015 Service wrote and presented The Joy of Mozart, a documentary for BBC Four, which The Daily Telegraph described as "joyous" and "richly enjoyable".[15] The film aimed to deconstruct some of the myths surrounding Mozart and the romanticism that has been built around his life and relationships.[16] This was followed in January 2016 by The Joy of Rachmaninoff featuring Vladimir Ashkenazy, Steven Isserlis and Stephen Hough.[17][18]

Also in 2016 Service presented a documentary film tribute to Peter Maxwell Davies for BBC 4 called Sir Peter Maxwell Davies: Master and Maverick, described by David Chater of The Sunday Times as “memorable” and with a “lucid commentary”.[19]


Since 1999 Service has written about classical music for The Guardian newspaper.[20]

In his 2012 book Music as Alchemy: Journeys with Great Conductors and their Orchestras, he examined music through studies of and interviews with six conductors, each preparing a performance with their orchestra. In a four-star review in The Daily Telegraph, Sameer Raham described the book as "excellent" and an "enthralling study".[21] Suzy Klein of New Statesman also found it to be "excellent", while expressing disappointment that the conductors themselves weren't able to clearly describe "what makes an exceptional, alchemical conductor".[22] The Economist found the interview portions "not particularly rewarding" but said "the book's strength is in its mix of stories and perspectives".[23]

In 2013, Service collaborated with composer and conductor Thomas Adès to write the book Thomas Adès: Full of Noises. Conversations with Tom Service. Opera News described the book as "two hundred pages of brilliant talk" and said of Service that "there's no doubting the intelligence he brings to the project".[24] Classical Music magazine described the conversations as “a great battle of wills and provokes an unapologetically complex book”.[25]


Service was Professor of Music from 2018 to 2019 at Gresham College and has taught at the Trinity College Of Music.[1][26]

Personal lifeEdit

In 2015 Service married violinist Alina Ibragimova whom he first met while interviewing her for The Guardian. They lived in Greenwich, London.[27] The couple divorced in 2018.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c "Tom Service". University of York. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  2. ^ Gloag, Kenneth (30 April 2011). "John Zorn: Tradition and Transgression. By John Brackett". Music & Letters. 92 (2): 325–327. doi:10.1093/ml/gcr012. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Here and Now - Tom Service". Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Music Matters – Tom Service". Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  5. ^ Furness, Hannah (16 April 2016). "Mozart to Beyonce: a lesson in classical music by Radio 3". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  6. ^ Chisholm, Kate (7 May 2016). "If you want to know how music really works listen to Classic FM not Radio 3". The Spectator. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  7. ^ "The Real Brahms". BBC Proms. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  8. ^ Breckenfield, Nick. "Prom 10: Aurora Orchestra/Nicholas Collon – Richard Strauss's Metamorphosen & Beethoven's Eroica Symphony". Classical Source. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  9. ^ "The Listening Service at the BBC Proms 2017". Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  10. ^ Lawrence, Ben. "Messiah at the Foundling Hospital, review: 'worthy but lacked nuance'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  11. ^ Rees, Jasper. "Messiah at the Foundling Hospital, BBC Two The story of Handel's oratorio and Coram's charity seductively told". The Arts Desk. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  12. ^ Billen, Andrew. "TV review: Black Work; La Traviata: Love, Death and Divas". The Times. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  13. ^ "Leningrad and the Orchestra That Defied Hitler (2016)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  14. ^ Farndale, Nigel. "Shostakovich's Leningrad: The symphony that brought a city back to life". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  15. ^ Tate, Gabriel. "The Joy of Mozart, review: 'richly enjoyable'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  16. ^ Templeton, Hannah. "Tom Service's 'The Joy of Mozart'". British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  17. ^ "Television debut – The Joy of Rachmaninoff". Epiphoni. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  18. ^ "Department alumnus Tom Service presents new documentaries for the BBC". University of York. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  19. ^ Chater, David. "What to watch and when". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  20. ^ "Tom Service". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  21. ^ Rahim, Sameer (28 June 2012). "Music as Alchemy: Journeys with Great Conductors and their Orchestras by Tom Service: review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  22. ^ Klein, Suzy (18 July 2012). "Music as Alchemy – review". New Statesman. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  23. ^ "Conjurors". The Economist. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  24. ^ Cohn, Fred (February 2013). "Thomas Adès: Full of Noises". Opera News. 77 (8). Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  25. ^ Plumley, Gavin. "Conversations with Tom Service, Thomas Adès: Full of Noises". Classical Music. Rhinegold Publishing. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  26. ^ "Tom Service's Gresham Lectures". Gresham College. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  27. ^ Duchen, Jessica. "EDITOR'S TEA: ALINA IBRAGIMOVA". Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.

External linksEdit