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Four Shakespeare songs : for soprano and piano

by Peter Sculthorpe

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Michael Halliwell, David Miller from the CD O for a muse of fire

This sample is of the Baritone with piano version of this work
O for a muse of fire


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O for a muse of fire : Shakespeare settings by Australian composers / Michael Halliwell, baritone ; David Miller, piano.

Version: This product features the Baritone with piano version of this work

Library shelf no. CD 1913 [Available for loan]

Four Shakespeare songs


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Four Shakespeare songs : for soprano and piano / Peter Sculthorpe.

Library shelf no. 783.66542/SCU 2 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

When I was a student at the University Conservatorium of Music in Melbourne, I entered a collection of Shakespeare settings in the 1948 Victorian School Music Association Composition Competition. To my delight, the collection was judged as runner-up. I felt this recognition helped justify my desire to be a composer in the eyes of my parents. The songs, designed for use in schools, were gathered together under the title, A Glimpse of Seventeenth Century England, for unison voices and piano.
Apart from a few sketches, all that remains of the collection are 'Take, O Take Those Lips Away' and 'Sigh No More, Ladies'. In 2000, I revised these two songs, along with 'O Mistress Mine', and my good friend David Leisner arranged them for voice and guitar in 2011. In order to complete the cycle, devoted to aspects of love, I later added a much-revised version of 'Come Away, Death'.

Work Details

Instrumentation: Soprano, piano.

Duration: 10 min.

Contents note: I Take, O, take thy lips away (from Measure for Measure) -- II O Mistress mine (from Twelfth Night) -- III Sigh no more, ladies (from Much Ado about Nothing) -- IV Come away, Death (from Twelfth Night).

First performance: by Frances Cowper, Peter Sculthorpe — 1947. Melba Hall, University of Melbourne

The first and third of these songs were written in 1947, during student days at the University Conservatorium of Music, Melbourne. The second and third were written especially for a Canberra production of Twelfth Night, directed by Anne Godfrey-Smith, in 1956. All four songs have since been revised, some of them substantially so.

Performances of this work

19 May 2012: at Sculthorpe - music for Guitar (Albert Hall, Canberra). Featuring Christina Wilson, Bradley Kunda.

11 May 12: Various venues in Canberra, ACT

29 Jun 56: Performed by members of the Canberra Repertory Society at the Riverside Theatre, Canberra

1947: Melba Hall, University of Melbourne. Featuring Frances Cowper, Peter Sculthorpe.

User reviews

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My favourite Australian art song repertoire

Posted by Australian Music Centre on 22 July, 2013

The AMC asked leading practitioners to select their favourite Australian art song repertoire, to provide delegates to the 2013 International Conference of Vocal Teachers (Brisbane 2013) with an introduction to this rich and diverse landscape.
Four Shakespeare Songs (Take, O take those lips; Mistress MIne; Sigh no more, ladies; Come away death)
A cohesive group of lyrical songs that add more to these well known and often set texts. "Come away death" is a particularly powerful song. Originally composed for medium voice and piano they have recently been arranged for voice and guitar.
Christina Wilson