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Shakespeare and Music: Afterlives and Borrowings

ISBN: 978-0-7456-3296-4
248 pages
May 2007, Polity
Shakespeare and Music: Afterlives and Borrowings (0745632963) cover image
This is a study of the rich and diverse range of musical responses to Shakespeare that have taken place from the seventeenth century onwards. Written from a literary perspective, the book explores the many genres and contexts in which Shakespeare and his work have enjoyed a musical afterlife discussing opera, ballet, and classical symphony alongside musicals and film soundtracks, as well as folk music and hip-hop traditions.

Taking as its starting point ideas of creativity and improvisation stemming from early modern baroque practices and the more recent example of twentieth-century jazz adaptation, this volume explores the many ways in which Shakespeares plays and poems have been re-worked by musical composers. It also places these cultural productions in their own historical moment and context.

Adaptation studies is a fast emerging field of scholarship and as a contribution to this field, Shakespeare and Music: Afterlives and Borrowings:

develops theories and practices from adaptation studies to think about musical responses to Shakespeare across the centuries
brings together in an exciting intellectual encounter ideas and methodologies deriving from literary criticism, theatre history, film studies, and musicology
explores music in its widest context, looking at classical symphonies including the work of Berlioz and Elgar and operas by Verdi and Britten as well as Broadway musicals, film scores by Shostakovich, Walton, and contemporary performers, and the jazz adaptations of Duke Ellington and others.

This is a timely study that will appeal to a wide readership from lovers of Shakespeare and classical music through to students of film and historians of the theatre.
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  • Acknowledgements
  • Prelude
  • Chapter 1: ‘All That Jazz’: Shakespeare and musical adaptation
  • Chapter 2: Classical Shakespeares
  • Chapter 3: ‘Shall we dance?’: Shakespeare at the ballet
  • Chapter 4: ‘Shakespeare with a contemporary musical twist’
  • Chapter 5: Shakespeare in the opera house
  • Chapter 6: Giuseppe Verdi and Benjamin Britten: Case studies
  • in Shakespearean opera
  • Chapter 7: Symphonic film scores
  • Chapter 8: ‘You know the movie song’: Contemporary and hybrid
  • film scores
  • Chapter 9: Contemporary music and popular culture
  • Coda
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Dr. Julie Sanders, University of Nottingham
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  • A novel and exciting exploration of musical adaptations of Shakespeare from the seventeenth century to the present day
  • Discusses opera, ballet, and classical symphony alongside musicals and film soundtracks, as well as folk music and hip-hop traditions
  • Will have interdisciplinary appeal: the book brings together approaches from literary criticism, theatre history, film studies and musicology
  • Will appeal to a wide readership from lovers of Shakespeare and classical music through to students of film and historians of the theatre
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"Shakespreare and Music is about afterlives, in quotations, borrowings, citations, adaptations, all of it after Shakespeare’s own lifetime. It is also about reception and interpretation, re-imagining, appropriation, in Verdi of course, Tchaikovsky, Liszt, and then on contemporary films, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn. This is at once a learned book, an original contribution to learning, and a story that lovers of Shakespeare and music will enjoy and profit from. It is a real success: gracefully written, elegant, intelligent, witty."

David Bevington, University of Chicago

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