2014 marks the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare. Celebrate The Bard's magnificent contribution to the arts by including some Shakespeare-inspired music in your forthcoming seasons...
There is a wealth of Shakespeare-inspired music across the Music Sales catalogue for all genres. This anniversary offers the perfect opportunity to explore a variety of composers, ranging from Malcolm Arnold
to Michael Nyman
; Samuel Barber
to Arne Nordheim
. I hope you will take time to look through the below and please contact me
if you'd like any further information.
All are available from the Music Sales catalogue, and many samples of the pieces listed here are available to listen to on this Shakespeare playlist.
An example of just a few works:
A piece dripping with Renaissance drama, Malcolm Arnold
's 25-minute Cello Concerto 'Shakespearian'
brilliantly overcomes the challenge of portraying the work of Shakespeare without using his original written medium as a libretto. Using a Renaissance-inspired figure in the cello, Arnold manipulates the ripieno to create textures and moods corresponding to popular Shakespearian themes - love, despair, tragedy and murder to name a few.Sir Edward German
became music director at The Globe theatre in 1888, and wrote many pieces of incidental music for its productions. Romantic and swelling, his music perfectly emulated the drama of many of Shakespeare's most famous works, while standing well on its own as concert music.
Saariaho's Tempest Songbook
is an exploration of the main characters from Shakespeare's 'The Tempest'. Music and its hypnotic properties is a major theme of the play, and it is clear through the orchestral accompaniment that Saariaho draws heavily on this idea. The glistening, modal piano and harp emulate the magical deception of the island, while the portamento strings visualise confusion and societal decay. This is a very atmospheric collection of five songs.Suite from 'The Tempest'
is taken from Arne Nordheim
's music for the ballet. Mingling ambient noise (such as crashing waves) with subtly pulsating, gradually mutating vocal harmonies, Nordheim gradually edges this mysterious musical reverie into a crashing orchestral panic. The disconnected-sounding instrumental parts portray the crossed wires and dishonesty among the characters, and at intervals the voices interject with confused, anguish-ridden cries (particularly during Caliban's Warning
, the final movement of the suite, injecting a characteristic sub-human tone). This piece is filled with musical expression, and is extremely effective without an accompanying stage performance.Michael Nyman
originally wrote Ariel Songs
for Peter Greenway's 1990 film Prospero's Books. The text is taken from songs in The Tempest and the music emulates, simply yet passionately, the ethereal other-worldliness of the play and the character Ariel herself. The three songs are all for solo female voice with different versions of orchestration available (including a piano or string quartet accompaniment, and a version for soprano saxophone).
These pieces and further outstanding works are perfect for honouring The Bard on this significant occasion and can be found below.
To order a piece from our hire library, please follow the instructions on our Hire Page
SELECTED REPERTOIRE...Malcolm ArnoldCello Concerto
Op 136 (1988) 25'
Solo: Cello, 2(pic)222/4331/timp.1perc/strGraville BantockMacbeth
3223/4331/timp.perc/hp/strSamuel BarberAntony and Cleopatra, Two Scenes
Op 40 (rev. 1975) 16'
Solo: Soprano, 2+pic+ca.2+bcl.2+cbn/4331/timp.perc/2hp.pf/strLennox BerkeleySuite: The Winter's Tale
Op 54 (1960) 16'
(Henry V) (1955) 23'
for SATB chorus, soloists & orchestraSir Edward GermanAs You Like It Masque
2(pic)122/2230/timp.perc/hp/strHamlet Symphonic Poem
3222/4231/timp.perc/hp/strHenry VIII: Three Dances
2(pic)222/2230/timp.perc/strMuch Ado About Nothing: Bourée & Gigue
Richard III Overture
2222/2230/timp.perc/strRomeo & Juliet Suite
2222/2230/timp.perc/strEdward ElgarFalstaff (symphonic study)
0+2pic.121/2220/timp.perc/strJoseph HorovitzLady Macbeth
Mezzo-soprano/pianoRobert KurkaJulius Caesar, a Symphony Epilogue after Shakespeare
Op 28 (1955) 9'
2+pic.222/4221/timp/strArne NordheimBe Not Afeard
Solo: Soprano, Baritone
2222/1110/timp.3perc/hp/cel/epf/strSuite from 'The Tempest'
Solo: Soprano & Baritone
2(2pic)1+ca.1+bcl.1+cbn/1110/timp.3perc/cel.epf.hp/str/tpMichael NymanAriel Songs
Soprano/pianoforte/string quartet/soprano saxophoneKaija SaariahoThe Tempest Songbook
Soprano, baritone, fl.cl/hp/gtr.man/vn.va.vc.db
Aulis SallinenA Solemn Overture
(King Lear) (1997) 12'
2(pic)3(bcl)3(cbn)/4331/timp/hp/strGunther SchullerFive Shakespearian Songs
Solo: Baritone, 2+pic.2+ca.2+bcl.2+cbn/4331/timp.perc/hp.pf/strRalph Vaughan WilliamsFantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Solo: String Quartet, Double String OrchestraPeter WarlockCapriol Suite for Orchestra