My New Book on Shakespeare’s Music

This year after 4 years of writing, editing, research and collaboration with an incredible group of intrepid scholars, Shakespeare, Music, and Performance has been finally published by Cambridge University Press and is available for purchase here.

Our book launch is Monday, May 8th at 5pm at Shakespeare’s Globe.

Here’s the blurb:

Music has been an essential constituent of Shakespeare’s plays from the sixteenth century to the present day, yet its significance has often been overlooked or underplayed in the history of Shakespearean performance. Providing a long chronological sweep, this collection of essays traces the different uses of music in the theatre and in film from the days of the first Globe and Blackfriars to contemporary, global productions. With a unique concentration on the performance aspects of the subject, the volume offers a wide range of voices, from scholars to contemporary practitioners (including an interview with the critically acclaimed composer Stephen Warbeck), and thus provides a rich exploration of this fascinating history from diverse perspectives.


I have two essays in the book – the interview with Stephen (Oscar winner for the Shakespeare In Love score) and an essay on musical approaches in the Globe to Globe complete works festival from 2012. David and I have written the introduction (though most of it is David!). This is where I say that David is by far the more accomplished scholar on this subject than I. But it has been a wonderful collaboration, folding in both practical approaches and hard-nosed research.

The list of amazing contributors is: Lynda Phillis Austern, Val Brodie, Michael Burden, John Cunningham, Paul L. Faber, Peter Holland, Katherine Hunt, Claire van Kampen, Elizabeth Kenny, William Lyons, Lucy Munroe, Carol Chillington Rutter, Simon Smith, Jon Trenchard, Stephen Warbeck and Wray. 








Review: Bill Barclay and David Lindley, eds. Shakespeare, Music and Performance.

[This review was published on H-net on 1.1.18]

By Lars Fischer

Bill Barclay and David Lindley, eds. Shakespeare, Music and Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.

An interdisciplinary volume that includes chapters by composers, arrangers, artistic directors, musicians, and literary scholars, Shakespeare, Music and Performance demonstrates how integral music has been to Shakespeare’s plays from their inception and traces the various ways it has featured through centuries of performance. What Val Brodie terms “revivifying the music” is an apt description of the work accomplished here, which covers a wide temporal range of western music and surveys many of the plays (169). This vibrant collection offers a unique focus on musical performance, but one need not be a specialist in music to benefit from the wealth of clearly presented and accessible material.
Organized chronologically, several of the essays discuss musical practices in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Scholars interested in historically informed performances of Shakespeare-era music will find the first section—with its details about period instruments, specific tunes, and performance conventions—most useful, especially in its examination of the sonic palette and musical possibilities available to Shakespeare and his contemporaries. …
Several essays in this section revise received knowledge about Shakespeare-era music. …
Dispersed throughout the collection are “In Practice” essays, contributions by contemporary musicians working in Shakespearean contexts. …
Other chapters explore music in Shakespeare’s plays as both metamorphosed through the centuries. John Cunningham examines the afterlives of Thomas Arne’s eighteenth-century settings for Drury Lane revivals, while Michael Burden describes spectacular and musical eighteenth-century processions created and incorporated into Shakespeare’s plays. Val Brodie reads the significance of differing musical approaches in Kean’s and Calvert’s Victorian-era Henry V productions, and Peter Holland juxtaposes Peter Brook’s non-musical King Lear against Arnold Schoenberg’s film score Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspeilszene to open his discussion of the range of effects created by cinematic soundscapes. …
This generative collection mines the archives and features voices of musical practitioners in order to enhance our understanding of the organic role music has always played in Shakespeare’s dramatic works. All Shakespeare scholars should read this pithy volume to understand the longstanding significance of music to Shakespeare’s plays and the ways in which music has been adapted through the years alongside the plays. As Austern reminds us, “Whether Blackfriars or Red Bull, Globe or St. Paul’s, the Shakespearean-era theatre was as much a place for music as for speech and action” (86). As Shakespeare, Music and Performance proves, this musical truth also resonates through centuries of Shakespeare performance.

Jennifer Linhart WoodShakespeare Quarterly 68, 2 (2017), 204–206.

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