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New Shakespeare Songbook

Gustav performs Liebe, Ach! (O, Love) - Shakespeare's Sonnet 23

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.

New Shakespeare Songbook: Austria

Liebe, Ach! (Shakespeare's Sonnet 23) - performed by Gustav, Austria

Liebe, ach! (O, love) - Sonnet 23

....As an unperfect actor on the stage,
Who with his fear is put besides his part,
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
Whose strength's abundance weakens his own heart;
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
The perfect ceremony of love's rite,
And in mine own love's strength seem to decay,
O'ercharg'd with burden of mine own love's might.
O let my books be then the eloquence
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast,
Who plead for love and look for recompense
More than that tongue that more hath more express'd.
O, learn to read what silent love hath writ:
To hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit.

About the New Shakespeare Songbook

Peter Maniura - BBC Shakespeare Lives:

"If music be the food of love, play on..."

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!

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