What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Discussion on the works of John Keats.

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What Music Do You Associate With Keats?

Postby Malia » Tue Jan 24, 2006 3:55 am

Hello again all :)

Here's another question for you. What music do you associate with Keats? That is, what songs, artists, genres etc. do you think really "fit" with your impression of Keats as a person and/or artist?

I find that whenever I listen to Beethoven, Keats always comes to mind. Probably because, first, their eras overlapped--i.e. Beethoven was alive when Keats was alive. Second (and more importantly), the particular emotion conveyed in B's works--the peculiar mix that sounds to me almost like "brooding joy"--really strikes me as Keatsian. I suppose it is that sense of "light and shade" that I'm hearing in his music. The same light and shade I catch in Keats's poetry and life.
Also, there was a bit of Beethoven's booming outrage in Keats's personality, too--especially Keats's sense of outrage at injustice and those who were cruel to the weakest among us.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this subject?
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Postby Credo Buffa » Tue Jan 24, 2006 5:15 am

hmmm, good question!

Well, the first thing that pops to mind is Mozart for a couple of reasons: 1) We know that Keats was familiar with Mozart (does he ever mention any other composers in his letters?), and 2) they are both similarly representative of creative genius tragically cut short and underappreciated in their lifetimes. Sure, Mozart and Keats didn't live at the same time (Mozart died in 1791 where Keats was only born in 1795), but the music Keats would be familiar with was much more likely still in the Classical veign, since musical Romanticism happened a bit later than literary Romanticism.

On a more philosophical level, I also tend to associate Keats with the French Impressionists, i.e. Debussy and Ravel. It's an association that makes a lot of sense, not only in that Impressionism can be considered Romanticism at its most extreme, but also that the entire idea of Impressionism is sensual atmosphere. Keats is a poet of the senses, just as Impressionism is music of the senses.
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Postby Despondence » Tue Jan 24, 2006 6:02 am

Schubert piano sonatas :)

(Incidentally, I brought this up before in the thread "Music and Poetry", where there's a reference to the only instance I know of Keats speaking of Mozart, Handel, &c)
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Postby Saturn » Tue Jan 24, 2006 10:15 am

I would definitely have said Schubert too Despondence - when I hear the Piano Sonata in A, D959 andantino I think of Keats' death and when listening to the Death and The Maiden Quartet I think of 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci'. I think because they both died of tuberculosis they have a certain affinity [though Schubert was some three years older than Keats when he died].

Mozart of course reminds me of Keats because as you say he was fond of his music.

Beethoven, although my favourite composer, is always associated in my mind with Byron - I was exploring both of their work together at the same time but I think they had the same artistic daring, bravado and fits of violent temper.
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Postby Despondence » Tue Jan 24, 2006 10:14 pm

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.

Anyway, there are so many goodies in his sonatas that just go perfectly together with many of Keats's poems...my favorites are probably D960, 664, 625 and 568, whatever that means.. I got the whole kit as a graduation present :D

One other Shubert piece that is a real gem is the Arpeggione Sonata in A minor. I have a wonderful version of this transcribed for guitar and violin by Söllscher and Shaham, on the "Schubert for Two" album, which I can warmly recommend. So perfectly balanced between romance and melancholy, quite reminiscent of Mendelssohn's violin concerto in E minor (especially the allegro molto apassionato, also a favorit "poetry" piece!)
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Postby Saturn » Tue Jan 24, 2006 10:43 pm

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?
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Postby Despondence » Tue Jan 24, 2006 11:42 pm

Image
I can wholeheartedly recommend this one, performed by Wilhelm Kempff. At 7 discs, it is a pretty massive set that may overwhelm you at first, but it so grows on you over the years, and several years after I obtained the collection I am still discovering new "gems" and picking up nuances that I didn't hear at first. A masterpiece.
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Postby Saturn » Tue Jan 24, 2006 11:52 pm

Thanks - I'll try and find that :D

The Beethoven set is 11 discs so 7 doesn't sound too daunting :lol:
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Postby Credo Buffa » Wed Jan 25, 2006 2:32 am

Stephen Saturn wrote: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?


Oh, I definitely think that rock can be poetry. . . in the right hands (i.e. Ben Folds's hands). :wink: I can't particularly think of any songs that remind me of Keats though, probably because they have poetry and personality of their own. Maybe if I thought about it for awhile I could think of something that might remind me of some part of Keats's life, but not so much his poetry.

Well, now I feel like I have to recommend an album!

I was talking about Impressionists earlier. This is one of my favorites:

Image

Debussy and Ravel both only wrote one string quartet each, so they often get paired on recordings. These (especially the third movement of the Debussy) insipred me in my string quartet/flute piece that I wrote based on "Ode to a Nightingale" (which I'm still trying to compress so you can all hear it!). You might also be familiar with the second movement of the Ravel. . . one of the most colorful string works ever!

Oh, and thanks to Despondence for explaining how to post pictures from Amazon! :)
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Postby Despondence » Wed Jan 25, 2006 3:00 am

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

Beth Gibbons, "Out of Season". Not that there's any connection....but just that the music, the lyrics, and her voice above all, so darkly moving, bittersweet pleasures, sorrowful memories...deeply poetic.
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Postby Malia » Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:27 am

At the gym tonight, I was listening to my iPod shuffle when it "hit" me. The modern-day song that most perfectly captures Keats's feelings as he wrote his angry anguished letters to Fanny Brawne in May 1820--and I quote:

Shot through the heart
And you're to blame
Darlin' you give love
A bad name

I play my part (the anguished, dying poet and fiance)
And you play your game (which I assume for Fanny was flirting at parties ;) )
You give luuuv
A bad name

*Insert angished cry and metal guitar solo here*

Yes, these immortal words were sung (and I believe penned) by none other than Mr. Jon Bon Jovi, himself.

In all seriousness, though, I think Keats could really have benefitted from some "hard rock" therapy--too bad it didn't exist in his day.
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Postby Saturn » Tue Jan 31, 2006 9:55 am

You can bet he would have listened to stuff like Radiohead or Coldplay
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Postby Malia » Tue Apr 18, 2006 8:00 pm

I'm sitting here editing a scientific document, drinking my Irish Breakfast tea and listening to music, and I've come to the conclusion that if a movie about Keats were ever made, Chanticleer should be employed to provide at least *some* of the music. Not only are they an amazing acapella choir--truly, a symphony of voices--the idea that they are all men seems to fit in with Keats somehow. For some reason, the idea that these are all men singing adds to the "vibe" that would accompany Keats. Maybe because he was so close to his brothers and male friends, it just seems right to employ an all male choir. eeek. Ok, time for a latte. Can't think straight this morn--oops,--afternoon.
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Postby Despondence » Tue Apr 18, 2006 8:47 pm

Chanticleer? Hmm, didn't know about them, have to check them out -- thanks for the tip! Would you recommend an album? I've been listening to some works by the Tallis Scholars recently, which I've quite come to like (and which at a glance seem to sound rather similar to Chanticleer, although they are a mixed choir).

Incidentally, I recently bought an album called "Emma Kirkby sings Handel, Arne, Haydn & Mozart," which struck me as a short list of the few composers that ever got a mention by Keats :) (although not Haydn, perhaps)
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Postby dks » Tue Apr 18, 2006 8:53 pm

:shock: :shock: Just got back from class...stayed up til 4:30 and finished my paper--I'll post it, so be merciful... :shock: I think I've hallucinated twice today...soooo sleepy.

Keats and music...hmmmmm. Beethoven's 9th--the abundant "swell and fall" is all about Keats, I think.

Rock/modern music and Keats...hmmmm...well, while I was in Rome all I listened to was Enya's "Amarantine"...now the whole album reminds me of him.

Yeah, I think he would've dug New Jersey rock, Malia... :lol:

I confess I think of him when I listen to Boston--especially "Don't Look Back"--my favorite by them--it's so grand and sweeping far as rock goes...it fits somehow.
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