New Shakespeare Songbook
"If music be the food of love, play on"... Shakespeare does Eurovision as artists from across Europe re-imagine his plays and poetry.
"If music be the food of love, play on."
- William Shakespeare: Twelfth Night, Act 1 scene 1.
...a source of inspiration for composers, lyricists and performers for four centuries
Shakespeare is a great songwriter; songs permeate the tragedies, comedies and histories and have provided a source of inspiration for composers, lyricists and performers for four centuries. On the 400 anniversary of his death, the BBC and Austrian broadcaster ORF - with the support of the European Broadcasting Union - have decided to commission a New Shakespeare Songbook, offering today’s composers and musicians across Europe, the chance to respond afresh to these timeless texts.
But this isn’t just music to be heard, it’s meant to be seen as well. Composers and performers worked with film-makers and directors to produce new songs which were also conceived as films. The teams were free to use any Shakespeare text from his plays and sonnets and to set them in English, or in their native tongue. There was no restriction in terms of musical genre. The British songs were co-commissioned by BBC Shakespeare Lives and BBC Radio 3.
We hope you enjoy the imaginative, diverse and poetic results – welcome to the New Shakespeare Songbook!