Few would challenge William Shakespeare’s claim to being the most celebrated writer in the English language, but what about his contribution to music? Whoever he was, Shakespeare was a tuneful fellow. All of his plays were written to incorporate songs and dances (although hardly a note survives from his own time). Hardly surprising, then, that over the centuries his works have inspired the great composers to produce some of their finest works for the opera house, the ballet, on film and in the concert hall. His plays have flourished in musical form in Italy, in Germany, behind the Iron Curtain, even as far as Japan. Composers like Giuseppe Verdi revered Shakespeare above all other dramatists – Hector Berlioz was practically obsessed with The Bard. So just what were Shakespeare’s ten greatest gifts to classical music?

10. King Lear

Despite its reputation among the cognoscenti as Shakespeare’s greatest play, in musical form King Learhas struggled outside of the theatre. Perhaps the sheer scale and breadth of the work has served to flummox adaptors?


Bo Skovhus as the...

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