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Details of the Devil in Words and Music

Thursday, October 12


Words are often part of songs, but what happens artistically when words inspire music in different ways? Or music inspires words? Prof Robert Vilain from Oxford University and Prof Anthony Caleshu, University of Plymouth, will join pianist Robert Taub in a unique collaborative presentation involving discussion and music to share musical and literary ideas about different interpretations of the devil in music, poetry, and literature.

We will focus on the Faust legend as the backbone in Thomas Mann’s “Doktor Faustus” and how Mann incorporates Schönberg (as the protagonist Adrian Leverkühn) as a Faustian character with respect to Schönberg’s twelve-tone musical advocacy, as well as the musical implications of Schönberg forging a new Faustian twelve-tone pathway. Ravel’s mighty Gaspard de la Nuit – one of the most expressive and challenging works for piano – was inspired by Bertrand’s poems of the same name, and Liszt’s pyrotechnical Mephisto Waltz is a musical interpretation of Lenau’s Faust story; these works will all be featured this evening. Poetry, literature, music – all focused on the eternal theme of temptation. Join us for this very special event.

“Ravel, Liszt, Schönberg, Bertrand, Lenau, Mann: the music and words are evocative and brilliant; it will be a special pleasure to play and speak about them with Robert Vilain and Anthony Caleshu.”

  • Dr Robert Taub, Director of Music, The Arts Institute, University of Plymouth

This is a preview to the Musica Viva solo piano concert of Saturday 14 October 2023.

Ticket information: £6, £4 concessions, FREE to all students

Book a place here.

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