The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: William Shakespeare died 400 years ago today. What is your favorite music inspired by The Bard, the greatest writer of all time? | April 23, 2016

By Jacob Stockinger

He is generally acknowledged as the greatest writer of all time and of any culture.

The English poet and playwright William Shakespeare (below) died 400 years ago today – on April 23, 1616 — in his hometown of Stratford-on-Avon where he returned to after his stage career in London. He was 52 years old.

shakespeare BW

You may have heard that a touring copy of the rare 1623 First Folio edition of his plays, on loan from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.,  will be on display this fall at the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dates of the exhibit are Nov. 3-Dec. 11, 2016.

Here is a link with more information:

First Folio

And this summer’s Madison Early Music Festival will focus on Shakespeare and music of the Elizabethan Age when it is held from July 9 to July 16.

Here is more information about that event:

Today, what The Ear wants to know is what is your favorite piece of music inspired by Shakespeare?

The Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Felix Mendelssohn? (The Ear loves that richly atmospheric work. You can hear it, complete with the braying of the “rude mechanical” human who is transformed into a donkey — in a YouTube video at the bottom)

The operas ”Otello” or “Falstaff” by Giuseppe Verdi?

The opera versions of “Romeo and Juliet” by Hector Berlioz and Charles Gounod?

The incidental music to “Henry V,” “Hamlet” and “Richard III” by William Walton?

Franz Schubert’s song “Where is Sylvia”?

The “Romeo and Juliet” Fantasy Overture by Tchaikovsky?

Various setting of songs and ditties in Shakespeare’s plays?

If you need something to jog your memory about possible choices, here is a link:

Leave your choice, with a YouTube link if possible, in the COMMENTS section.

The Ear wants to hear.


  1. Je ne sais pas si ça a marché, mais en tout cas merci pour ce


    Comment by — April 28, 2016 @ 10:59 am

  2. Check out Rufus Wainright’s setting of 9 sonnets. Incredibly original and inventive. I found it on NPR’s First Listen.


    Comment by Connie Kilmark — April 25, 2016 @ 8:36 pm

  3. youtube:


    Comment by Gretta Gribble — April 23, 2016 @ 10:08 am

  4. The man from Stratford could not and likely did not write the great “Shakespearean” plays. Lots of talented actors so believe, and so do I: including Orson Welles, John Gielgud etc.


    Comment by fflambeau — April 23, 2016 @ 9:49 am

  5. “serenade to music” and “sir john in love” . both vaughan williams.


    Comment by Gretta Gribble — April 23, 2016 @ 9:47 am

  6. What comes to mind first is a song from Twelfth Night. I’ve encountered two different musical settings for it, and sung it in a chorus long ago:

    O Mistress mine, where are you roaming?
    O, stay and hear! Your true love’s coming,
    That can sing both high and low.
    Trip no further, pretty sweeting;
    Journeys end in lovers meeting,
    Every wise man`s son doth know,

    What is love? ‘Tis not hereafter.
    Present mirth hath present laughter;
    What’s to come is still unsure.
    In delay there lies no plenty,
    Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty.
    Youth’s a stuff will not endure.


    Comment by Ed Haertel — April 23, 2016 @ 9:13 am

  7. I, too, like the Incidental Music to MND along with the “Much Ado” movie and music which I thought was marvelously atmospheric and evocative of the play.


    Comment by John Beutel — April 23, 2016 @ 8:14 am

  8. I’d go with Mendelssohn’s Incidental Music to MND, especially the Overture. I also liked the music for Branagh’s “Henry v.”: Don’t know if it was original. Thanks for the tip on Sullivan’s “Termpest.” Had never heard of it before.


    Comment by Steve Powell — April 23, 2016 @ 5:46 am

  9. I enjoyed the music in Kenneth Branagh’s version of Much Ado About Nothing. Especially the piece for the procession for Hero, when she is assumed to have died. That was very moving.


    Comment by Genie Ogden — April 23, 2016 @ 3:02 am

  10. No contest: Vaughan Williams: “Serenade to Music”


    Comment by Larry Wells — April 23, 2016 @ 12:13 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,250 other subscribers

    Blog Stats

    • 2,412,512 hits
%d bloggers like this: