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In 1970, Delia created music for Orpheus by Ted Hughes for the "Listening and Writing" series of schools programmes produced by Dickon Reed. The music consists of an electronic tune by Delia over guitar chords composed and performed by Alan Parker and the programme won the prize for the best educational programme in Japan.[1]

Delia Derbyshire composed the music for the schools programme Orpheus which won the Minister of Education prize in last years's Japan Prize Contest. She had to create sounds that would have been made by stones and trees if they were able to speak.
   -- Desmond Briscoe in the Ariel article

It was first broadcast in early 1971.[2]

The BBC Annual Report and Accounts 1971-72[3] includes the text:

Prize-Winning Radio Programmes
Japan Prize Minister of Education's Prize
Orpheus, a verse play written by Ted Hughes for a School Radio programme and produced by Dickon Reed
Series Editor John Kerry

This is not to be confused with Maddalena Fagandini's 1961 sound for Orpheus.[4]




  • The autograph draft is in the Ted Hughes collection at the British Library.[5]
  • Published in Collected Plays for Children, 1971.[6]
  • Published in the 1974 US edition The Tiger's Bones.
  • Published in the BBC schools' radio booklet Listening and Writing in Summer 1974.[2]


  • Broadcast on 19th January 1971 on BBC Radio 4 for Schools[7] and in 1973.[2]
  • In the BBC Sound Archive on tape TRW 7294.[1]
  • Attic Tape DD005 is described as containing Orpheus.


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Tape Library List's entry for TRW 7294.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Notes to Ted Hughes' original manuscript at Archives Hub
  3. BBC Annual Report and Accounts 1971-72, page 47 at britishonlinearchives.co.uk
  4. Audio examples for the book Special Sound (Music2 Book4416).
  5. Ted Hughes Archive: The Final Portion, British Library index of Ted Hughes' papers.
  6. Collected Plays for Children at www.ted-hughes.info
  7. DD110726: Schedule for rehearsal and recording.