From Words to Music

© Fred Cattroll

Introduction

From Words to Music looks at orchestral compositions inspired by literature. Five Canadian composers – Linda Bouchard, Oskar Morawetz, Gary Kulesha, Violet Archer and Robert Turner – are considered. The eclectic literary sources of inspiration include medieval romances (Bouchard’s Exquisite Fires), fairy tales (Morawetz’s Overture to a Fairy Tale), Virginia Woolf’s The Waves (Gary Kulesha’s The Boughs of Music), Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (Violet Archer’s Prelude-Incantation) and the poetry of Canadian poet Earle Birney (Robert Turner’s Group of Seven).

In some cases the literary text provides general inspiration for the musical mood, in some it provides a more specific back story for the music, and in one instance the text is written into the music. The guided listening and learning activities encourage students to consider the relevance of knowing the story behind the work, and how music can reflect, enhance or heighten text. 

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