The Interpretation and Pedagogy of 20th-Century Settings of Shakespeare



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William Shakespeare’s plays and characters have inspired composers for centuries, most prominently in operatic adaptations by Giuseppe Verdi (Otello, Falstaff, Macbeth), but also including modern works by Samuel Barber (Antony and Cleopatra), Thomas Ades (The Tempest), and Brett Dean (Hamlet). Many of his comedies include “songs” with no music, giving ambitious composers an opportunity to write music for one of history’s most famous poets. This paper examines four such songs from the comedies As You Like It, and Twelfth Night; or What You Will, to provide a poetic analysis of the original texts, as well as musical analyses of settings by three contemporaneous, English-speaking composers from the early 20th century: Roger Quilter, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and Madeleine Dring. In addition to providing robust poetic and musical analysis, this paper also catalogues many of the educational features within these twelve songs, as supported by manuals by a variety of esteemed, modern vocal pedagogues.



Vocal pedagogy, Vocal repertoire