The Isle Is Full Of Noises: Music for Shakespeare

in Daily Programme, Radio Riel Main

by Elrik Merlin on Saturday, 22 June, 2013

It’s Midsummer and that puts us in mind of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As a result, today let’s explore the wide range of music written to accompany or be a part of the Immortal Bard’s works.

Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.

(Caliban — The Tempest)

The works you’ll hear today range from classical – for example Tchaikovsky’s fantasy overtures for Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet and The Tempest – to the modern: Gryphon’s Midnight Mushrumps, also composed for The Tempest but this time by Richard Harvey for Peter Hall’s 1973 National Theatre Company production; and a great deal more, such as Alfred Reed’s evocative Shakespearian pieces for wind band. We’ll also hear a selection of period pieces from Philip Pickett and the Musicians of the Globe — the marvellous recreation of the Globe Theatre in London.

Today’s programme is presented by Elrik Merlin. You can listen to the programme now at, or simply click here to start your player, if your browser is configured to do so. Listeners in the United States are encouraged to tune in using this link:


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