Royal Shakespeare Company Opens Its Music Vault

Oct 14, 2014

The Royal Shakespeare Company is releasing albums of the music commissioned for its productions of many of the plays. Pictured the first collected edition of William Shakespeare's works.
Credit Leon Neal / AFP/Getty Images

"Classics only become classics after a length of time. ... That's the beauty of it. And when people are listening to Michael Bruce's version in, say, a hundred years time, I wonder what they will think of that."

What’s the right music for a Shakespeare play? Depends on what century you’re in. In the 400 years since the plays were new, generations of composers have set their musical styles onto Shakespeare’s scripts.

Now Britain’s Royal Shakespeare Company has opened up its music vault and released recordings of some of the scores they’ve stashed there over the past century. The RSC’s head of music invites NPR’s Ari Shapiro to compare an indie-rock version of “Who is Sylvia?” from their current production of Two Gentlemen of Verona, with a 1938 setting of the same Shakespeare lyrics.