What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Discussion on the works of John Keats.

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Re: What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Postby BrokenLyre » Thu Mar 19, 2009 6:33 pm

Credo Buffa,
You can find the book on ebay, Amazon or Abebooks. Fascinating and enjoyable read I must say. Minahan (who has degrees in both music and English) compares Keats's lyrics with the sonata form. A quote from the book: "The sonata signifies dramatic conflict on an epic scale by enacting temporal and emotional experiences, such as loss and recovery, which are the stuff of lyric. We're attempting to clarify poetry by examining music, and here, it must be admitted, we're clarifying music with poetic terms....Poetry is like music because music is like poetry: a methodological loaded deck." I appreciate his sensitivity to the principle of reciprocity between music and poetry. One of these days I'll finish reading it if I get some time. :)
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Re: What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Postby Gazlynn » Tue May 19, 2009 5:41 pm

I am new to this forum but will throw my 10p worth in

Anton Bruckners 4th
Gustav Mahlers 2nd
Shostakovich 5th
Wagners Parsifal prelude
and anything by the smiths and placebo :D
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Re: What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Postby Raphael » Fri Oct 30, 2009 5:19 pm

I know of course Chopin was after John's time but this piece of music just makes me think of him in its gentle almost innocent start..rising and getting stronger to a passionate faster ending..it almost mirrors the emotions, sensations and thoughts of his life..:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAcAWWU_0mE
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Postby Nonedo » Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:05 am

Keats doth not need music…
Well you see Keats reached the land of poesy that is beyond understanding of music (Just as some composers reached the land of music that is beyond understanding of poesy). If you mix poesy with music, there will be always something lost on both sides (a song is something different, it uses feeling of music instead of feeling and beauty of poesy).
I am sad I have heard the reading of Ode to Nightingale, for the Bright Star film, for now when I read this poem, I have associations with Mozart’s serenade (Which was poorly sung, if you hear the orchestra playing it, you will see, it is much, much better. But actually I didn’t like the whole film, it was too monophonic, characters one dimensional and mostly wrong, like Brown (Who was more of an evil queen (Or Amadeus Salieri), who was jealous of Keats, where in real life we thank him for many surviving works of Keats, which he saved from trash can and actually dedicated his whole life to Keats) or even Keats himself (Who was a beautiful prince, who didn’t really gave a damn about poetry or his artist friends). The film was more like this 7:07 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slMpJvt6b0I .But that is maybe because I don’t really watch movies, and the only things I compare this film is to masterpieces of literature and the greatness of Keats himself, which is extremely difficult to put into a movie save Documentaries or a know better about the life of author bbc bio pic, which just shows you where he was and what he did (like Byron 2003). I mean the work was too hard and big to handle for anyone, plus you have to make this movie for the ones who don’t read poetry at all, also, which is drastically hard without ruining everything. I think the only person who could have introduced Keats perfectly was… Keats himself)
Anyway, I think Poesy and Music must stand side a side but not cross each other, especially if the music or poetry was not made for a concrete piece of another (Which is making great walls for Poet or Composer). But there are pieces done that way (making one for another and not just crossing two already great things) like Ode to Joy. Music and Poem are close to each other, and the line that goes between them crossing as a song makes little damage to both (especially if you note the fact that there is only part of poem used) but still they are lowered, like two mountains that were bent to each other. They seem bigger, but the height is not as great.
You can associate music with bard like poets such as Byron, but Keats is a True poet, who needs no music, he has his own.
It is like translation: weak parts are made stronger, but great parts and senses are dumbed, and you read a poem that of numb beauty.

By the way sorry for elaborate sentences.
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
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Re: What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Postby Nonedo » Sun Jan 31, 2010 9:23 pm

[banned member] wrote:Hello Nonedo. I think you've made some excellent points, especially regarding music and poetry. They are in essence two very different disciplines, impossible I think to unite successfully: one will always devalue the other to an extent, if and when an attempt to integrate them is made. And Keats' odes especially, I believe, really do need no music. Many thanks and welcome to the Community.

Best wishes, [banned member]


Thank you, really
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
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Re: What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Postby BrokenLyre » Mon Feb 01, 2010 5:03 am

Thanks for your thought nonedo. We all bring something to the poetry of Keats or the movie "Bright Star." That's why it affects people so differently. I think the poetry of Keats and the music of his day have some relationship - though somewhat complex. Perhaps you might want to read:

Word Like a Bell: John Keats, Music and the Romantic Poet
- John A. Minahan, Kent State University Press, 1992.

This explores those two themes by an author who is both writer and musician. Definitely insightful for all who want to study Keats more deeply. Provocative book even if he pushes his interpretive paradigm too far. But very interesting to read.
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Re: What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Postby Nonedo » Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:44 am

BrokenLyre wrote:Thanks for your thought nonedo. We all bring something to the poetry of Keats or the movie "Bright Star." That's why it affects people so differently. I think the poetry of Keats and the music of his day have some relationship - though somewhat complex. Perhaps you might want to read:

Word Like a Bell: John Keats, Music and the Romantic Poet
- John A. Minahan, Kent State University Press, 1992.

This explores those two themes by an author who is both writer and musician. Definitely insightful for all who want to study Keats more deeply. Provocative book even if he pushes his interpretive paradigm too far. But very interesting to read.


Oh, thank you for the book! I found it and it looks interesting.
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
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Re:

Postby PaulW » Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:56 am

Saturn wrote:
Despondence wrote:I don't remember exactly now, but I thought Schubert actually contracted syphilis or some other nastiness like that...though maybe I got that wrong.



No, I just 'wikied' Schubert and it was syphilis indeed :oops:

I've looked everywhere for a complete edition of Schubert's sonatas but can never find one - I have the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven though - sublime 8)

On another note which modern rock and pop artists remind you of Keats [if any].

I'd be interested to hear what you think my friends - can pop/rock music ever be poetry?


A modern artist, and a suitably obscure one, is Thea Gilmore. This song is strongly suggestive of Keats in some of the words and ideas. Drunken Angel...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA9iBHe0gRA

I had thought that before i joined this forum today and read your post :-)

Below is her 'Sol Invictus' number. I shot the clip a few miles from Shelley's original home turf in West Sussex:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_au8lYCa2Qk
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Re: What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Postby Raphael » Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:32 pm

It is exceedingly good. Funnily enough I was thinking of posting if anyone had found some good music to Junkets's poems!
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Postby Credo Buffa » Wed Feb 10, 2010 7:05 pm

BrokenLyre wrote:Thanks for your thought nonedo. We all bring something to the poetry of Keats or the movie "Bright Star." That's why it affects people so differently. I think the poetry of Keats and the music of his day have some relationship - though somewhat complex. Perhaps you might want to read:

Word Like a Bell: John Keats, Music and the Romantic Poet
- John A. Minahan, Kent State University Press, 1992.

This explores those two themes by an author who is both writer and musician. Definitely insightful for all who want to study Keats more deeply. Provocative book even if he pushes his interpretive paradigm too far. But very interesting to read.

I was re-reading some of the earlier discussion here and rediscovered the mention of this book. Just arrived today! I can't wait to read it. As I said before, literary and musical discussion is a match made in heaven for me, and the idea that someone focused on KEATS of all writers for such a book. . . ? I'm salivating here just thinking about it.

Raphael wrote:Funnily enough I was thinking of posting if anyone had found some good music to Junkets's poems!

If I'm not mistaken, Charles Ives wrote a few songs using Keats' poetry. I still regret not hunting those down and listening to them in the music library when I had the chance!

I myself also wrote my first significant composition based on "Nightingale." Not my best work, surely, but I was young. :) I posted it here way back when, but it's probably disappeared by now.
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Re: What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Postby Credo Buffa » Wed Feb 10, 2010 7:28 pm

Nonedo wrote:I am sad I have heard the reading of Ode to Nightingale, for the Bright Star film, for now when I read this poem, I have associations with Mozart’s serenade (Which was poorly sung, if you hear the orchestra playing it, you will see, it is much, much better.


It was my impression that the singing of the serenade wasn't meant to be particularly well-sung, but rather to be a more realistic representation of what an average group people might hear and present on an evening such as that portrayed in the movie. In Keats' day, people relied on either their own musical talents or those of their friends simply to hear music played. Even to hear Mozart's serenade performed by the instruments for which it was intended probably would have been an extremely rare treat. While I agree that the credit sequence in the film would have been much improved without the music in the background, I quite appreciate the authenticity (dangerous word that, but I'm too preoccupied to think of anything better at the moment) of the music on its own.

But, speaking as someone who has composed music to existing poetry, it certainly is a very difficult process. Not only is the need for expression there, but the simple technical aspects of making poetic and musical meter mesh fluidly are enough to make you want to give up entirely! I for one have tended to stick with simpler texts with shorter lines for that very reason. At the same time, though, I for one can't say that there aren't people out there who are more adept at that sort of thing than I am. Put a complex poem in the hands of a great composer, and I fully believe that magic can happen (I might suggest Eric Whitacre as one composer who is particularly talented in that respect).
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Re: What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Postby Raphael » Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:26 pm

[banned member] wrote:Hello Credo Buffa. Do you know of any attempt to compose music to "To Autumn". Listening to Michael Emmanuel's mesmerising piece has really got me interested in this. Many thanks, [banned member].


I was just thinking about To Autumn put to music when I was clicking on this thread Peter! I can think of some contemporary folk and Classical artists who might be good interpreting the poems:
Eddi Reader
The Medieval Baebes (for The Eve of St Agnes)
Adiemus
Enya
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Postby Nonedo » Thu Feb 11, 2010 7:32 pm

I forgot to mention, I've also had (thank god they faded more or less) associations with reading Itself, which made poem sound more mortal than it is, when you start "My heart aches..." and all the colours and sounds and noises and views come up to eyes, the sound the rythm and flow it gives to reader can not be outspoken, like gigant waves that take you where they like, but just as the views are most perfect. I'll use metaphor from film, that one can not tell how it is like to be in a lake, you must be in it.

And realism? well, making art more realistic, is like trearing arms of a person. And if you do not add anithing to already done characters, why cant you at least make them more idealistic than they were? You can not make an actor show enourmus soul of keats, his emotions, at least make him handsome. I mean Fanny, on photo where she is 50 looks better than actreas that played her. I mean this is the most massive and seriuos tribute to keats in last 150 years, that responsibility is enourmus! I doubt the makers felt this, I think they just wanted to make a romance movie and threw in Keats. I mean take Keats out and... Film is just a life of ordinary girl who meets a poet.
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
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Re: What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Postby Raphael » Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:45 pm

You can not make an actor show enourmus soul of keats, his emotions, at least make him handsome.



I'm not sure what you are trying to say with all this. Yes John Keats had an incredible soul and it's obvious by the descriptions of him that he had some kind of magical presence and was extremely good looking ( he was described by many people to have been "beautiful").It was probably his expression, beautiful hair and beautiful face and personality all working together which made him stand out. I think Ben Whishaw is good looking although he doesn't look like our dear poet- but he has some kind of unusual presence about him and integrity.He also has a humbleness which is endearing. I think we couldn't have got better than Ben Whishaw.


I mean Fanny, on photo where she is 50 looks better than actreas that played her.


Abbie Cornish is really beautiful! If I looked like her I wouldn't be complaining. :D


I mean this is the most massive and seriuos tribute to keats in last 150 years, that responsibility is enourmus! I doubt the makers felt this, I think they just wanted to make a romance movie and threw in Keats.


It is an enourmous responsibility- but their love story is an event that was immense in both their lives and I think Jane Campion undersands that- have you read her interviews and seen her talk about it ? Have you read what she wrote about reading Motion's biography? She was genuinely moved by them both.There is respect and deep affection for John and Fanny.

I mean take Keats out and... Film is just a life of ordinary girl who meets a poet


Well- that is what Fanny was- a middle class girl who met and fell in love with a genius and was transformed by him.But ordinary? I think not- she was described as unusual and to have caught John's attention like that she had to have had something about her to make her stand out- it was more than just beauty- he had met many beautiful girls who never stirred him like Fanny Brawne did.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Postby Credo Buffa » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:21 pm

[banned member] wrote:Hello Credo Buffa. Do you know of any attempt to compose music to "To Autumn". Listening to Michael Emmanuel's mesmerising piece has really got me interested in this. Many thanks, [banned member].

Nothing comes to mind, [banned member]. I'm sure there are composers out there who have been inspired by this and other Keats poems, but as far as vocal settings, I'm not familiar with any.

As far as your question to how it might depicted in music, I wouldn't even try to apply the words, but rather evoke the sensual and emotional content through instrumentals alone. The problem with putting long texts into song is that it's easy for it to become stale. I think of other musical settings of extended poems that I've heard--"Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Iron Maiden and "Lady of Shalott" by Loreena McKennit spring immediately to mind--and remember getting bored about halfway through, waiting for something different to come in and change the tone and direction of the work. If anything, I think you'd have to look at a more operatic style that would employ some kind of recitative in order to move things along and allow the words to speak for themselves more easily. Again, that's just my own opinion.

Nonedo wrote:Film is just a life of ordinary girl who meets a poet.

Not to divert too much from the topic of this thread, but I'll just say that I think this is pretty much what Jane Campion was going for. Fanny Brawne was, for all intents and purposes, an ordinary 19th century girl who happened to be the object of affection for an extremely gifted poet, as Raphael says. The film was telling HER story, not Keats'.

By the sound of your disdain for this particular film, I have to wonder if you have similar opinions for other cinematic depictions of real, historical figures, or is it simply that this one that irks you so much because it is about someone with personally more significance for you? I don't mean this to sound like an accusation, I'm merely curious.

Also agree with Raphael that Abbie Cornish is beautiful. In fact, when she was first cast, I felt that she was TOO attractive to play Fanny.
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