The Isle Is Full Of Noises: Music for Shakespeare


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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