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William Shakespeare (1564-1616) understood the value of rhythm, meter, and harmonies in music as well as playwriting and poetry. The Bard of Avon inspired profound music by Felix Mendelssohn and Giuseppe Verdi programmed by Bill in this week’s musical adaptations of Shakespeare from the stage to the screen, including Dvorak and Verdi’s versions of Othello as well as English composers Ralph Vaughan Williams, William Walton’s Henry V, Henry Purcell’s Fairy Queen, and completing the week with versions of Romeo and Juliet by Bernstein, Tchaikovsky, and Prokofiev.


Program 1

Bill takes a look at the music inspired by the Bard’s masterpieces, beginning with one of Mendelssohn’s first masterpieces, his overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Mendelssohn: Overture & excerpts from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Berlin Phil/Abbado; Branagh, nar.
Sony 62826
11:40, 14:43, 22:20

Program 2

Bill continues with Dvorák and Verdi's musical interpretation of Othello, and concludes with Verdi's tribute to Falstaff.

Dvorák: Othello (excerpt)
Czech Phil/Pesek
Virgin 61853

Verdi: Othello (excerpts)
National Phil/Levine; P. Domingo, ten.
RCA 39501
6:32, 9:44, 4:46, 5:48

Verdi: Falstaff (excerpts)
Vienna Phil/Bernstein; D. Fischer-Dieskau, ten.
Sony 64070
4:07, 1:18, :25

Program 3

Music and lines from the film Henry V from 1944, Bill continues with music from Purcell, Handel, Vaughan Williams, and Amy Beach.

Walton: Henry V (excerpts fr. film suite)
Philharmonia Orchestra/Walton; Olivier, nar.
EMI 65007
3:36, 13:18

Purcell: The Fairy Queen (excerpt)

Handel: “E Pur Cosi… Piangero” fr. Julius Caesar
London Phil/Welser-Most; Amanda Roocroft, s.
EMI 555090

Vaughan Williams: “Full Fathom Five”, “The Cloud-Capped Towers” and “Over Hill, Over Dale”
Cambridge Singers/Rutter
Collegium 505
3:16, 2:22, :58

Finzi: “Who is Sylvia?”, “Fear No More the Heat o’ the Sun” and “It was a Lover and his Lass” from Let us Garlands Bring
Bournemouth Symphony Orch/Handley; M. George, bar.
Conifer 51285
1:34, 5:02, 2:34

Beach: “O Mistress Mine” & “Take, O Take Those Lips Away” 
Emma Kirkby, s; James Lisney, p.
BIS 1245
2:27, 1:32

Program 4

Romeo and Juliet is the focus for this program, and Bill includes music from Charles Gounod, Hector Berlioz and ends with Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.

Gounod: Queen Mab scene from Romeo and Juliet
Toulouse Capitole Orchestra/Plasson
EMI 40700

Berlioz: Romeo and Juliet (excerpts)
Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique & Monteverdi Choir/Gardiner; Fouchcourt, ten.
Phil 454454
1:29, 7:17, 14:53

Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
NY Phil/Bernstein
Sony 63085

Program 5

The theme of Romeo and Juliet continues with compositions by Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, neither of whom use Shakespearian language but instead use the story of Romeo and Juliet to build great works of music.

Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Overture
New York Phil/Bernstein
DG 429234

Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet (excerpts)
Leningrad Kirov Orchestra/Gergiev
Phil 432819
19:35, 5:33, 3:04


The Exploring Music streaming website is supported by Mr. & Mrs. William Gardner Brown and the Richard P. and Susan Kiphart Family.  
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