Music and Shakespeare 87:26

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June of this year will see the tenth anniverary of the opening of the reconstructed Globe Theatre in London. The idea of re-establishing Shakespeare's original theatre was that of the celebrated director Sam Wanamaker. Wanamaker's work included directing several operas ranging from Verdi to Tippett, but Shakespeare's plays have also inspired many pieces of music: Berlioz: Le Roi Lear (King Lear Overture) In 1830 Hector Berlioz's fiancee's unfaithful behaviour had left him in a somewhat combustible frame of mind. Initially contemplating a horrific act of revenge, the composer instead spent some time in Nice recovering from the psychological blow he had been dealt. While there he wrote this overture, his state of mind no doubt reflected by the play's turbulent narrative. Concidentally, his Symphonie Fantastique was inspired by his love for the Shakespearean actress Harriet Smithson. Verdi: Macbeth Three extracts from Verdi's first Shakespearean opera, originally produced in 1847. The revised version of some 20 years later was less successful at the time, but has since become the most popular of the two. Richard Strauss: Macbeth The Scottish play again, this time conveyed as a suitably intense tone poem by a master of the form. The sheer dramatic strength and narrative force of this play in particular has provided many composers with a compelling subject. Tchaikovsky: Hamlet - Fantasy Overture This complex Oedipan tragedy has also been interpreted in music in various ways. It's tempting to speculate whether Tchaikovsky saw his own troubled personality reflected in that of the play's main protagonist. Edward Macdowell: Hamlet and Ophelia Dating from 1885, this two-part work by this currently criminally underperformed American composer is poignantly evocative of its subjects. Handel: Giulio Cesare While this fine opera is derived directly from history rather than via Shakespeare, it deserves inclusion as an example of how key historical figures have inspired both our greatest playwrights and many of our most important composers. Sir Arthur Sullivan: Orpheus with his Lute from Five Shakespeare Songs This setting of Shakespeare by one half of the legendary operetta partnership charts an uneasy course between the Lied and the parlour song. Honegger: Suite 'La Tempete' Another composer whose music is currently heard too rarely. This attractive suite of incidental music for 'The Tempest' was composed for an adaptation by Guy de Portales and was first performed in 1929. Playlist created by

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