A public lecture and performance by Julianne Baird, Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University and Internationally Acclaimed Early Music Scholar-Performer.
What can we learn from Shakespeare’s use of music and from musical references in his plays? In this lecture-performance, renowned soprano Julianne Baird will discuss and perform music from Elizabethan and Jacobean times conceived for performance in the plays of the great Bard. William Shakespeare alludes to or includes the texts of well over 160 songs in his plays.
Music in Shakespeare’s time ran the gamut of lute songs by the famous contrapuntalist, John Dowland, madrigals and fa la’s (ballets) by Morely and, of course, the great polyphonies and verse anthems by William Byrd. But extant Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre music is much more simple and vivid, often almost ballad-like in style and the playwright seems to have had a genuine fondness for honest English popular and traditional songs. The poignancy of having Desdemona sing the Willow Song in her fatal hour shows his full commitment to music’s emotional power.
The audience of Shakespeare’s time would have expected each drama to have included at least one song per play, (with the exception of tragedies which usually contained only the heraldic and militaristic sounds of trumpets and drums.)
Not only are the musical references far more numerous, but Shakespeare defied this orthodoxy and wrote poetry for the tragedies which movingly uses musical reference as dramatic device.
Among the Elizabethan pieces performed at the lecture-recital will be “The Willow Song”, “Farewell Dear Heart” “O Mistriss Mine”, and “Ah Robyn, Gentil Robyn.” A number of pieces written for the Jacobean revivals of Shakespeare’s plays composers John Wilson and Robert Johnson will also be discussed and performed.
Cost: free, however RSVP is essential to [email protected]
or 6488 1340.