Musée d'Orsay: Poets and Musicians in Oscar Wilde's England

Poets and Musicians in Oscar Wilde's England

Napoléon SaronyPortrait of Oscar Wilde© National Portrait Gallery, London
Few artists or writers have influenced the society of their time as much as those who, in the mid 19th century, came together under the banner of Art for Art's Sake. Rebelling against Academism, they advocated not only a new elitism but also a new spirituality in art that included every aspect of creativity: three dimensional arts, novels and poetry, decorative arts, music, photography and even fashion and social philosophy.
In music, as in painting and literature, the quest for a glorious past that could inspire the present, became evident through the revival of Purcell and his contemporaries, of Handel and the oratorio tradition where Wagner heard the true spirit of British musical culture - a culture preserved through choir schools that integrated a musical apprenticeship into a general university education. Thus, the use of the English language brought together sacred and secular music, resulting in a very distinctive approach to this art form.
From the works of Elgar, Stanford, Dyson, Holst and Vaughan Williams, it is the image of a spiritual pilgrimage that emerges, inspired by national or even topographical traditions of the British Isles, striving for the poetic genius of Blake, Tennyson and Rossetti, the precious fruits of a cherished insularity.

Special evening in the Nave

Choir of King's College Cambridge
Steven Cleobury, conductor
Hubert Parry
My soul, there is a country
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Silence and music
Three Shakespeare Songs

Nicholas Maw
One foot in Eden
Richard Allain
Welcome, all wonders
Benjamin Britten
Five Flower Songs
Richard Rodney Bennett
A flower at sun-rising
William Walton
Where does the utter'd music go?
Set me as a seal

Charles Wood
Hail, gladdening light

Fri 28 October 2011 - 20h30
Musée d'Orsay

Nave (central hall)

Free admission, according to availability

Gabriel Woolf, reciter
Guy Vandromme, piano
Eric de Kuyper, visual design
Richard Strauss
Enoch Arden, op. 38, a melodrama for narrator and piano based on the poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Performance in English with French surtitles

"Soundtrack without film" is how the musicologist John Pritchett described the monodrama Enoch Arden by Richard Strauss. Dating from 1897, Strauss' forgotten gem is a composition for spoken word and piano. The piano part is conceived in symphonic form, complete with rhythmic 'leitmotifs', and accompanies Alfred Lord Tennyson's story. On the wild and rocky shores of England, two friends, Enoch Arden and Philip Ray, are both in love with Annie Lee. When Annie chooses Enoch, Philip suffers in silence. But later, Enoch leaves for a long sea voyage, and Philip looks after the fatherless family…
Richard Strauss’ musical version of this story of love and devotion, in some ways bridges the language of his symphonic poems and that of his later operas. Eric de Kuyper has chosen fragments of films that could be considered as variations on Enoch Arden. They enter into a dialogue between the music and the narration.

Production Muziektheater Transparant


Thu 10 November 2011 - 20h00
Musée d'Orsay

auditorium, level -2

Musicians of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Charlotte Rampling, narrator
Gabriel Woolf, narrator
William Walton
Façade, entertainment for reciter, flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, cello and percussion, based on poems by Edith Sitwell
Ralph Vaughan-Williams
Six Studies on English folk song

Thu 15 December 2011 - 20h00
Musée d'Orsay

auditorium level -2

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