SHAKESPEARE SONGS (for tenor and string orchestra) op.378a (October 1987)

Published by: Highbridge Music Ltd
Instrumentation: tenor,string orchestra (vns1,vns2,vas,vcs,cb)
[Key to Abbreviations]
Note on Lyrics: Shakespeare
Duration: 23 mins
First Performance: Royal Northern College of Music, November 1990
Sheet Music Available
Full score for sale
Study score for sale
Orchestral parts for sale
Instrumental / piano score for sale
Instrumental parts for sale
Full score for hire
Study score for hire
Orchestral parts for hire
Instrumental / piano score for hire
Instrumental parts for hire
Recordings Available
The version for tenor and string quartet is available on an album called Chamber Music issued by Meridian Records and sung by Martyn Hill with the English Serenata


Originally for tenor and string quartet in which form the premiere was given by Martyn Hill and The Medici string quartet at the Chester Festival who commissioned it. 21st July 1987. Key E major.

1: Under the greenwood tree (As you like it)

 2: Blow,blow thou winter wind (As you like it)

 3: Full fathom five (The Tempest) 

4: It was a lover and his lass (As you like it) 

5: When icicles hang  by the wall (Love’s Labours Lost) 

 6: Hymn to Hymen (As you like it) 

7: Come away, death (Twelfth Night)

 8: When that I was and a little tiny boy (Twelfth Night)

 9: Fear no more the heat o' the sun (Cymbeline)





16th May 2014 Featured composer Howard Blake, The Orchestra of the Swan, conductor David Curtis, Shakespeare Songs, Richard Edgar wilson (tenor), Civic Hall, Stratford-upon-Avon BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 3,

Spring Sounds International
Music Festival 2014

Celebrating Shakespeare in words and music

With featured composer Howard Blake – Composer of The Snowman

Sunday 20 April – 8:10am BBC Radio 4

Wednesday 23 April  – 3:30pm BBC Radio 3

Friday 16 May, Friday 23 May, Friday 30 May and Friday 6 June

Civic Hall, Stratford-upon-Avon

2014 marks the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and to commemorate the occasion Orchestra of the Swan will be celebrating music inspired by his words.

Howard Blake, composer of ‘The Snowman’, is our featured composer and we will be performing his Shakespeare Songs, Harp variations on a theme composed for Henry V and the premiere of Midsummer Night's Dream, Suite for orchestra - a new work specially created from music composed for the RSC's feature film directed by Adrian Noble.

The Lark Ascending and Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams will also feature in this year’s programme as will new works by Huw Watkins, Roxanna Panufnik, Guto Puw and Roger Steptoe.

Click here to view events.


Spring Sounds History

The inaugural Spring Sounds took place in May 2008 with Tasmin Little at the helm as Artistic Director. The ethos behind the festival is to feature the work of established and developing composers alongside the great classics of the classical canon and to showcase and broaden Stratford-upon-Avon’s musical offering.

Taking place every May composers and artists featured thus far include Roxanna Panufnik, Joe Cutler, Phil Dukes, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Paul Watkins, Martin Roscoe, the Smetana Piano Trio, Param Vir and Viv McLean.

The festival has also made full use of a variety of venues Stratford offers from the orchestra’s home base of the Civic Hall through to the elegant Georgian Town Hall and the beautiful Peter Adams designed Compton Verney art gallery just outside of Stratford. Compton Verney has also hosted the festival’s family events with young participants and gallery visitors creating graphic scores and being treated to impromptu performances around the grounds from Orchestra of the Swan’s musicians

23rd June 1991 Martyn Hill, Robert Cohen, Charleston Manor Festival


'Of the various works especially commissioned by the Chester Summer Music Festival this year's Shakespeare song cycle would musically and artistically speaking seem to be the best....Blake has achieved true sensitivity, originality and innate musicianship with all the technical skills of modern song-writing to breathe fresh life into familiar stanzas. The songs are crafted with much perception. Devices such as suddenly-soaring intervals to give emphasis, sense of movement with changing time-signatures, and the manner in which lines are phrased to make literate as well as refined musical sense are some of the ways that help underline the significance of the texts...the composer acknowledged the prolonged ovation that was given the first performance.'

Chester Standard, 7/1987

Related Works

'*SHAKESPEARE SONGS (for tenor and string quartet)' op.378 (July 1987) (Audio Sample Available)
A song-cycle commissioned for Chester Festival
Arrangement in D major by the composer transposed from the original for tenor and string quartet in E
A version of the cycle with piano in its original key of E major, as the string quartet

Related Autobiography Chapters

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