Beckett & Feldman

Quite different quite a different music

Music
There have been several works of music inspired by the works of Beckett, particularly works of contemporary classical. This section, a work in progress, will endeavor to explore these pieces and the artists behind them. If you have any additional references you would like to see here, please let us know.

Classical & Avant Garde
The composers have been grouped into three categories: The first group are featured on Apmonia with full pages exploring their Beckettian works. The second group will take you off-site for additional information; however it is our intention to eventually provide them all with full Apmonia features. The third group are composers whose Beckettian works remain commericially unrecorded.

Apmonia On-site Pages

Berio, Luciano
Sinfonia (1968)
Italy's master of the avant-garde, Berio utilized fragments of Beckett's The Unnamable in his postmodern masterpiece.

Csapó, Gyula
Krapp's Last Tape -- after Samuel Beckett (1975)
Beckett's play inspired this Hungarian composer to create a musical/theatrical piece for "violinist-actor" and tape recorder.

Feldman, Morton
Neither (1977), Words and Music (1987), For Samuel Beckett (1987)
New York composer and friend of Beckett, who wrote the "libretto" for his "opera." Feldman also scored the American version of Words and Music, and his final piece was dedicated to the author.

Glass, Philip
Company (1983); also music for Play, The Lost Ones, Cascando, Mercier and Camier, and Worstward Ho.
One of America's premier composers, Philip Glass scored a production of Company for string quartet.

Marsh, Roger
PS (1971), Bits & Scraps (1979)
York professor and Joycean producer, Marsh wrote two Beckettian works in the 1970s.

Reynolds, Roger
Ping (1968), Odyssey (1976), Voicespace II, "A Merciful Coincidence" (1993)
This Pulitzer-prize winner composed several Beckett pieces.

Off-site Pages

Amirkhanian, Charles
Pas de Voix (Portrait of Samuel Beckett) (1987)
Created a Beckett "sound portrait."

Barrett, Richard
Nothing Elsewhere (1987), I Open and Close (1988), Another Heavenly Day (1990), How It Is
This Welsh composer has used Beckett texts for several of his compositions.

Duncan, John & Bernhard Gunter
Unspeakable House
Used Beckett's libretto for Feldman's Neither as a base for their own acoustic explorations.

Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, Pelle
Je ne me Tarais Jamais, Jamais (1966), Trois poemes de Samuel Beckett (1989), Songs Without (1976)
Danish composer; scored Je ne me Tarais Jamais, Jamais for narrator and chorus, and set two groupings of Beckett's poetry for chorus.

Kim, Earl
Exercises en Route (1961-1970), ...dead calm... (1961), They Are Far Out (1966), Gooseberries, She Said (1967), ...rattling on... (1970), Footfalls (1981), Narratives: Seven Pieces Based on Texts by Beckett (1973-1976), Now and Then (1981)
American who studied under Schoenberg and Sessions, and tapped Beckett's novels and plays for inspiration on numerous occasions, inlcuing a one-act chamber opera based on Footfalls.

Kurtág, György
Samuel Beckett Sends Word Through Ildikó Monyók in the Translation of István Sik (1990), Samuel Beckett: What is the World (1990), ... pas à pas - nulle part... (1997)
Three works by the great Hungarian composer György Kurtág. What is the World was created for singer Ildikó Monyó, recovering her voice after an auto accident; ...pas à pas -- nulle part... is a setting of Beckett poetry for soprano.

New! Miller, Mark E.
Words and Music (1979)
Miller composed music for a 1979 production of Words and Music, directed by Mark Lutwak. UbuWeb contains a downloadable MP3 of the entire performance.

Phillips, John J. H.
The things one has to listen to... (1990)
This electroacoustical piece is based on Beckett's The Unnamable, and can be downloaded from the composers page as an MP3. According to the composer, "I started the piece by dividing the allotted 10 minutes by the number of pages in Samuel Beckett's novel The Unnamable. Then I created a score by noting each sound mentioned by Beckett and placing it on the timeline. This 'sound reading' was created using various samplers, effect devices and synthesizers."

Off-site and Unrecorded

Barlow, Klarenz
Textemusik für Klavier 6
This Indian-German composer's Textemusik für Klavier 6 is a letter-for-letter "translation" of Beckett's "Ping" lasting 210 minutes. He explains how he wrote the piece in Mary Bryden's book Samuel Beckett and Music.

Finnissy, Michael
Enough
One of England's premiere avant garde composers, this is an adaptation of "Enough" for piano, commissioned by John Tilbury.

Fortner, Wolfgang
That Time (1977)
German composer, set That Time to music for voices and accompaniment.

Giacometti, Antonio
Musiche di scena per Happy Days (1980), Le allucinazioni di Watt (1982), Reliqua: 12 Mirlitonnades di S. Beckett (1986)
Italian "composer & music teacher," Giacometti set texts from Happy Days, Watt, and 12 Beckett poems to alto and 8 instrumentalists.

Haubenstock-Ramati, Roman
  "Credentials" or "Think, think Lucky" per voce e orchestra (1960), Comédie (1986)
Polish/German post-Webern serialist. Credentials adapted Lucky's speech from Waiting for Godot into a 13 minute piece for voice and eight musicians, and Comédie is an "anti-opera" in one act for three voices and accompaniment.

Hollinger, Heinz
Come and Go (1977), Not I (1980), What Where
Swiss composer, cinductor, and accomplished oboist, Hollinger has set text from several of Beckett's short plays into chamber operas. Come and Go is scored for three actresses, singers, three recorders, three violas, three clarinets; Not I is scored for soprano and tape.

Manzoni, Giacomo
Parole da Beckett: per 2 cori, 3 gruppi strumentali e nastro magnetico (1971)
Italian composer best known for his Emily Dickenson settings. This piece is for vocals and orchestra, and uses "words by Beckett."

Mihalovici, Marcel
Fifth Symphony, Krapp: ou La dernière bande, Cascando
French-Romanian composer known for his tonal operas, Mihalovici was the original composer for the music of Beckett's Cascando. His Fifth Symphony features a soprano singing a setting of a Beckett poem, and he used Krapp's Last Tape as the basis for a small opera.

Nyman, Michael
Act Without Words I (2001)
Postminimalist English composer, scored Karel Reisz's film version of Act Without Words I.

Parsons, Michael
Krapp Music
English experimental composer. Adapted Krapp's Last Tape for piano, two pre-recorded pianos, and voice on tape.

Rijnvos, Richard
Radio I (1991)
Dutch composer, adapted Rough for Radio I, featuring the voices of Joan Plowright, Michael Gough, and John Cage.

Sikorski, Tomasz
W Dali Ptak ("Afar a Bird")
Polish composer. This work is for clavichord, tape and reciter.

Stahner, Klaus Hinrich
Momentaufnahme (1988)
German composer. This work is for sprechstimme vocals and chamber music ensemble.

Tilbury, John
Cascando, Krapp's Last Tape, Beckett Commissions
The pianist John Tilbury -- friend and renowned interpreter of Morton Feldman's music -- has recently been performing "Cascando," Krapp's Last Tape and other prose pieces. Alongside these performances Tilbury has been commisioning piano music based upon Beckett's works, including Parsons' Krapp Music and Finnissy's Enough.

Wilkinson, Mark
Voices (1959)
For soprano and chamber orchestra


--Allen B. Ruch
(With thanks to S. T. Chase
& Kees Hessing )

1 June 2003


"Damn the mail" -- Send email to Apmonia's Tim Conley and the Great Quail -- comments, suggestions, corrections, criticisms, submissions . . . all are welcome!

Spiral-Bound -- Click here for information about Spiral-Bound, The Modern Word's monthly electronic newsletter. From this page you can read about Spiral-Bound, browse archived past editions, sign up for the Spiral-Bound e-group, and subscribe to the newsletter itself.