Oliver Twist, Hard Times, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, Our Mutual Friend, The Pickwick Papers – Charles Dickens’ many books have been loved by countless generations for over a century, read and reread until pages are dog-eared, dust jackets are long lost and spines are very well cracked.
However, it’s not just the brilliant characterisation and colourful story-telling that keeps Dickens at the top of the list of people’s favourite authors year in, year out, no matter who else comes along. His longevity can also be put down to his intense attention to detail, whether he’s writing about fashion, politics, food or music.
And it’s certainly no wonder that classical music fans (including us here at the Two Moors Festival) are so obsessed with his work, given the sheer number of references to different works and composers – and the (what we must assume) is a highly accurate portrayal of the part that music played in the homes of Victorian society.
Although he was a failed musician himself (having picked up the violin as a child and swiftly put it back down again), Dickens’ love of music is most apparent in his writing. Read Dombey and Son and you’ll find that Beethoven’s Sonata in B and Rule Britannia (very topical!) both receive a mention, while the National Anthem is often referred to in other novels, as is The Marseillaise. You’ll also find references to Yankee Doodle (!) and Hail Columbia, and Paul and Virginia – a ballad opera by Reeve and Mazzinghi – crops up in Little Dorrit.
We thought that, given Dickens’ interest in music and song and the fact that it is his birthday year in 2012, there could be no better way to celebrate than holding a concert in his honour. On October 14th, at St Pancras’s Church in Widecombe-in-the-Moor, we will welcome baritones Donald Maxwell and Marcus Farnsworth and pianist Anna Tilbrook for Come into the Parlour, an evening of Victorian songs.
Anna meticulously researched the programme for this particular concert, which includes La belle dame sans merci, Come into the Garden, Maude and Mr Wardle’s Carol, among many other delights.
If you love Dickens and music, this is one concert you really should not miss!
What’s your favourite Dickens novel and why?
Come into the Parlour
October 14th, 19:30
Tickets:£18, £16, £14
Box office: (01643) 831 370
- Dickens and the Artists (londonartportfolio.wordpress.com)
- The big reveal! (2mfblog.wordpress.com)
- The Royal Mail unveils special Charles Dickens stamps (itv.com)
- Charles Dickens identified as author of mystery article (guardian.co.uk)