Good sire Teufel and ye other scribes! Hark at this article. Was Shakespeare's last play intended to be a musical?
Added a few minutes later - sorry all I have just double checked by clicking on the link above and said link appears to be broken.
If you google as the search term references to music in Shakespeare (of which there are of course plenty and too many to mention) this Guradian article should come up towards the bottom of page 1.
I thought this article interesting on account of its explanation for the many musical references in The Tempest...
To all those who have contributed to this debate - the focus by Richard Wigmore on Beethoven and Goethe is a very interesting read. Thankyou Richard.
Sorry that you haven't received any responses. Perhaps it's outside of most people's knowledge here to make an intelligent comment as to whether or not he had intended some sort of a masque/musical? I wish that I knew the play well, so that I could contribute. The idea is fascinating though! I imagine that there are some good sites devoted to Shakespeare that might be engaged in such a debate? Or perhaps one of the contributers to "G" might be willing to offer their thoughts? Or maybe an email to some experts on the Bard might be willing to share their thoughts with you? Anyway, good luck! And please let us know if you find out anything further!
Thanks Petra. I'm sure there are some out there reading this thread who know The Tempest well and probably better than me! When I was an undergrad, one of the most ridiculous parts of the first year course was to read all of Shakespeare's plays. Yes that's right, all of them at 2 per week, besides of course a fair amount of other reading. I remember asking my tutor (a Dr. in Shakespeare) how many we would be expected to know for the final exam and he said, 'It's not a large corpus of work'! What, you want me to revise all of them, for just one of the 8 three hour final papers? Fat chance. Such were the days of cramming it all in for the monstrous finals in one go, not like nowadays where you take each exam after each module as you go through.
Since then, over the years, I have taught probably only about six of the plays. One forgets the other 30 plus! I know The Tempest reasonably well. The interesting thing about the article is the assertion that this last play was meant to have possibly continuous - or nearly so - music throughout which the actors spoke over the top of.
I was also kind of hoping someone might speak about F Martin's opera which I don't know, although as I say I am a fan of his. Are there any other settings of The Tempest?
There are musical lines here and there in Shakespeare which are great. One of my favourites has always been when the boy playing the lute falls asleep in Julius Caesar. He replies when awakened with, 'The strings, my lord, are false'. I don't know why I have always liked that line. There's probably many a great conductor who has thought that line!
The Tempest is an extremely difficult play to pull off. I've seen far too many performances that end up being a joke in all the wrong places. Have you ever seen a convincing Caliban ! Bathing it in music would seem a good idea, it is rather 'other worldly' however I get the feeling that some would use Star Trek type music and we'd be back to square one. It is certainly 'the' Shakespeare play that improves with reading, where you can bathe it in your own imagination and your own music.
Good stuff Uber thanks for that. I think you're right also on the depiction of Caliban being difficult.
The following is the complete text of a short story by Richard Brautigan:
The Scarlatti Tilt
'It's very hard to live in a studio apartment in San Jose with a man who's learning to play the violin.' That's what she told the police when she handed them the empty revolver.
It's from a collection of Brautigan's called 'Revenge of the Lawn' - 62 short short stories (the rest considerably longer than that one!)
I'd recommend Brautigan's novel 'The Abortion: An Historical Romance', a wonderful novel about a library where people deposit their manuscripts!
Been trying to find some poems about music and finding it harder than I'd imagined it would be.
First of all, there are poems which have musical titles but where the subject matter isn't particularly musical; famous examples being Eliot's Preludes and Owen's Anthem for Doomed Youth.
The Rattle Bag, great anthology edited by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney, has a few; again a couple of the more well-known ones are Macneice's Bagpipe Music and DH Lawrence's Piano, a little trip down memory lane for the poet.
Ted Hughes' 3rd collection Wodwo has three poems of interest; Cadenza, Ludwig's Death Mask and Kreutzer Sonata referencing Tolstoy of course, but a brutal poem on ths subject of sex. Cadenza appears to be a collection of fantastic and strangely unconnected images beginning with 'The violinist's shadow vanishes' from where the images take over.
Ludwig's Death Mask is a decent poem; it has some great lines, viz the last two:
His ears dead to continue completeIn union with the communion of angels.
DST - My slim volume of Gunter Grass' poems - a selected poems really edited by Michael Hamburger, has 4 poems which often contain musical references beyond just the titles; The School for Tenors, Open Air Concert, Music for Brass and Hymn. Some surreal images in these poems, as in Music for Brass the first two lines:
Those days we slept in a trumpet.It was very quiet in there,
A special mention goes to Gerald Manley Hopkins' Poem Henry Purcell, prefaced by the famous 'The poet wishes well to the divine genius of Purcell and praises him...'
Anyway, a short poem to end with on music, short enough to quote in full by Lorca and from The Rattle Bag:
The Six Strings
The guitarmakes dreams cryThe crying of lostsoulsescapes from its roundmouth.And like the tarantulait weaves a huge starto catch sighsthat float on its blackwooden tank.
(translated by Donald Hall)
Can anyone think of any others?
Perhaps, Robert Louis Stevenson's Away with funeral music:
Away with funeral music-set
The pipe to powerful lips-
The cup of life's for him that drinks
And not for him that sips.
Not that much about music, except as a metaphor.
(To a movement in Mozart's E-flat Symphony)
by Thomas Hardy.
Show me again the time
When in the Junetime's prime
We flew by meads and mountains northerly! -
Yea, to such freshness, fairness, fulness, fineness, freeness,
Love lures life on.
Show me again the day
When from the sandy bay
We looked together upon the pestered sea! -
Yea, to such surging, swaying, sighing, swelling, shrinking,
Show me again the hour
When by the pinnacled tower
We eyed each other and feared futurity! -
Yea, to such bodings, broodings, beatings, blanchings, blessings,
Show me again just this:
The moment of that kiss
Away from the prancing folk, by the stawberry-tree! -
Yea to such rashness, rareness, ripeness, richness,
A lovely, refreshing theme for this forum. Keep it up folks!
To keep it up, Vic, Mark and any other member involved. Robert Creeley's Water Music (no obvious or latent relation to Handel's masterwork, but let's give it a shot):
The words are a beautiful music
The words bounce like in water
loud in the clearing
Off the boats
They look for a place
to sit and eat
(Not so "bright" for a weekend poetry evening).
Parla I'm amazed! I didn't think enough people had even heard of Creeley. (I only have one collection myself I think it's poems 50 - 65).
Nice stuff - love the Hardy poem too Vic.
Just remembered today - the poem Music by Emerson - set by Howard Skempton as the first of four Emerson Songs on The Cloths of Heaven CD. (The Exon Singers on Delphian).
Might not be your cup of tea Parla - I notice at least TWO examples of parallel octaves from a cursory glance at the piece! I have the music to Music, if you see what I mean. Shocking how some composers DELIBERATELY break the rules. (Parla this is what Vic called gentle ribbing!)
Just to give a quick glimpse of the Emerson poem, which is good stuff, there is a varied refrain at the end of each of the three verses. From verse 2:
'But in the darkest, meanest things,There always, always something sings!'
And just to clarify on one of the poems above, Macneice's Bagpipe Music isn't about music really, but it is most certainly about how people want the quick pay-offs of fast culture, which might be of interest given our recent debates. I think Vic and Parla and others we could safely say Macneice was ahead of his time - that poem was written in 1937! The first two lines will give the flavour:
'It's no go the merrygoround, it's no go the rickshaw,All we want is a limousine and a ticket for the peep show'.
Since, apparently, there is no interest at all in discussing anything on music (the forum looks like "an empty hall"), let's pretend we talk about music by exchanging posts on poems with remote reference to even the word "Music".
Taking Mark's interest on Emerson and his reference on the "parallel octaves", I state below a short poem of the very individual style of Emily Dickinson with the very "stimulating" title "Dying at my music!" It is amazing the use of exclamation mark in every line, sometimes more than once(!), of this (fortunately) short poem of true poetic madness:
Dying at my music!
Hold me till the octave's run!
Quick! Burst the windows!
Phials left, and the Sun!
While I never really liked life in an always evolving (to any possible direction)country like US, by living there (for some years), one gets its indelible mark (to some extent). At least, some interesting music, poetry and literature may constitute something more than an "indelible shame" (please allow me the metaphor).
Well it just so happens that I am reading a historical fiction at the moment, called Prophecy by SJ Parris - the pseudonym of Stephanie Merritt who writes for the Guardian and Observer - and William Byrd has just made an appearance conducting some of his music before Elizabeth 1:
'Then Byrd lowers his hands in a sweeping gesture and a note breaks forth from the smallest boy, pure and clear as birdsong, its sweetness echoing to to the beams of the roof. Barely has he begun his note when the other voices join him, layering their harmonies piece by piece over one another, the bass notes holding firm and melancholy beneath the soaring, liquid music of the boys' voices. The song is a prayer for the queen, though the words slide through the melodies like water pouring over a fountain of glass'.
Good stuff. Perhaps a difficult task for a writer, to describe a real composer and the effect of his music in fiction.
(Parla - just a quick note - we're not pretending to be talking about music by referencing poems about music. The whole point of Vic's thread is music in literature!)