Shakespeare and Music

views updated

Shakespeare and Music. The influence of William Shakespeare (b Stratford-upon-Avon, 1564; d Stratford, 1616) upon composers, from his own time until today, is of such magnitude that a short entry is essential. Morley comp. songs for the of some of the plays. Since then nearly every composer of note has set a Shakespeare song—among the greatest being Schubert's Who is Sylvia? Incidental mus. to the plays ranges from Mendelssohn's and Orff's for A Midsummer Night's Dream to Walton's for Macbeth. Walton and Shostakovich are among those who have written mus. for Shakespeare films. In categories of their own are Berlioz's dramatic sym. and Tchaikovsky's fantasy-ov. Romeo and Juliet, Elgar's symphonic study Falstaff, and Vaughan Williams's Serenade to Music (a setting of words from The Merchant of Venice). Operas based on Shakespeare are many. Among them are: Barber's Antony and Cleopatra; Bloch's Macbeth; Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream; Berlioz's Béatrice et Bénédict (Much Ado About Nothing); Goetz's Der widerspänstigen Zähnung (The Taming of the Shrew); Hahn's Le merchand de Venise (The Merchant of Venice); Oliver's Timon of Athens; Rossini's Otello; Reimann's Lear; Searle's Hamlet; Storace's Gli equivoci (The Comedy of Errors); Thomas's Hamlet; Vaughan Williams's Sir John in Love (Merry Wives of Windsor); Verdi's Falstaff, Otello, and Macbeth; and Wagner's Das Liebesverbot (Measure for Measure). Purcell's The Fairy Queen is a masque based on A Midsummer Night's Dream although no word of Shakespeare's text is set. Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi is based on Romeo and Juliet but not on Shakespeare's version. Walton's Troilus and Cressida is also not based on Shakespeare's play and Rossini's Otello only slightly.