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George Eliot's World

George Eliot's novels, letters and journals read by Fiona Shaw, Ellie Kendrick and Philip Bretherton with music including works by Liszt, Handel, Clara Schumann and Tchaikovsky.

This special edition of Words and Music is inspired by the novels, letters and journals of George Eliot, as well as responses to her and her work from the likes of Henry James and Virginia Woolf. The readers are Fiona Shaw, Ellie Kendrick and Philip Bretherton and the music is what she might have chosen to listen to work by Clara Schumann, Bach, Liszt, Haydn, Handel and Purcell.

George Eliot played the piano all her life, was passionate about music and alludes to it many times in her novels and diaries. In her journal she talked of ‘music that stirs all one’s devout emotions blends everything into harmony – makes one feel part of one whole, which one loves all alike, losing the sense of a separate self’.
She knew and was friends many composers including Richard Wagner, Franz Liszt and Anton Rubenstein. In 1854 Eliot was travelling across Europe and met a famous pianist and composer in Weimar. It was Clara Schumann, described by Eliot as ‘an interesting, melancholic creature’. In Eliot’s novel, Daniel Deronda, she quotes from Rossini’s Otello, where he set to music Dante’s words:
Nessun maggior dolore
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
Nella misseria
There is no greater sorrow than to recall happiness in the midst of misery.

Producer: Fiona McLean

14 days left to listen

1 hour, 14 minutes

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • George Eliot

    Daniel Deronda, read by Ellie Kendrick

  • George Eliot

    Woman in France, read by Fiona Shaw

  • 00:00

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    Sonata no 3 in G Major, Allegro

    Performer: Yo-Yo Ma and Kenneth Cooper.
    • CBS CD37794.
    • Tr11.
  • George Eliot

    from Silas Marner, read by Fiona Shaw

  • 00:05

    Franz Liszt

    Piano Concerto no 1 Allegretto Vivace

    Performer: Daniel Barenboim, Staatskapelle Berlin.
    • DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4779521.
    • Tr9.
  • George Eliot

    from Middlemarch, read by Ellie Kendrick

  • 00:11

    Clara Schumann

    Trio in G Minor Tempo di Menuetto

    Performer: Boulanger Trio.
    • ARS 38048.
    • Tr2.
  • Simone de Beauvoir

    Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, read by Fiona Shaw

  • George Eliot

    from The Mill on the Floss, read by Ellie Kendrick

  • 00:15

    Joseph Haydn

    The Creation

    Performer: Rodney Gilfry, Donna Brown, The Monteverdi Choir, John Eliot Gardiner (conductor).
    • ARCHIV 4492172.
    • Tr11.
  • George Eliot

    Letter to Maria Congreve, read by read by Fiona Shaw

  • 00:23

    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    Symphony no 1 Scherzo

    Performer: Russian National Orchestra, conducted by Mikhail Pletnev.
    • DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4499672.
    • Tr3.
  • George Eliot

    Mr Gilfil’s Love Story, read by Ellie Kendrick

  • 00:31

    Frédéric Chopin

    Etude No 3

    Performer: Murray Perahia.
    • SONY 88697648232.
    • CD3 Tr11.
  • Henry James

    Letter to his father, read by Philip Bretherton

  • Lady Ritchie

    On George Eliot, read by Ellie Kendrick

  • W.L. Courtney

    on George Eliot, read by Philip Bretherton

  • George Eliot

    from her Journal, read by Ellie Kendrick

  • 00:35

    George Frideric Handel

    Concerto in B Flat Major Allegro ma non presto

    Performer: Karl Richter.
    • TELDEC 4509979002.
    • CD1 Tr12.
  • George Eliot

    from Self and Life, read by Ellie Kendrick

  • 00:39

    Henry Purcell

    Dido and Aeneas

    Performer: Anne Soffie van Otter, The Choir of the English Concert, Trevor Pinnock (conductor).
    • ARCHIV 4276242.
    • Tr21.
  • Edmund Gosse

    Edmund Gosse on seeing George Eliot, read by Philip Bretherton

  • George Eliot

    from Daniel Deronda, read by Fiona Shaw

  • 00:51

    Anton Rubinstein

    Cello Sonata no 1 Allegro moderato

    Performer: Steven Isserlis, Stephen Hough.
    • RCA 09026682902.
    • Tr7.
  • George Eliot

    On Finishing Middlemarch, read by Fiona Shaw

  • George Eliot

    from Middlemarch, read by Ellie Kendrick

  • 00:43

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Concerto no 23 in A Major Allegro assai

    Performer: Murray Perahia, The English Chamber Orchestra.
    • CBS Records.
    • Tr3.
  • George Eliot

    After finishing Middlemarch, read by Fiona Shaw

  • George Eliot

    from Middlemarch, read by Ellie Kendrick

  • 00:58

    Johannes Brahms

    Quartet in G minor Intermezzo

    Performer: Daniel Hope, Paul Neubauer, David Finckel, Wu Han.
    • DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4794609.
    • Tr7.
  • Virginia Woolf

    George Eliot, read by Fiona Shaw

  • 01:07

    Franz Schubert

    Symphony No 5 in B flat major Andante Con Moto

    Performer: Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan (conductor).
    • EMI CMS7698842.
    • CD3 Tr2.

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