Tag Archives: Henry Purcell

If music be the food of love

‘If music be the food of love’ is one of the most of popular songs by the English composer Henry Purcell (1659 (?) – 1695) and probably the most famous version of the song has been performed by Dame Carolyn Emma Kirkby.

The lyrics of ‘If music…’, by Colonel Henry Heveningham (1651-1700)  are very similar to a fragment of the text from Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ and some people who are not very familiar with maestro Shakespeare’s works may connect him with the  lyrics,  but they would be mistaken, as only the opening verse of the song is the same as the original Shakespearean text.

 One thing is certain, the text by Shakespeare was written nearly a century earlier and there is no doubt that Shakespeare had not only influenced Heveningham but also many, many other artists from various disciplines.

If music be the food of love,
Sing on till I am fill’d with joy;
For then my list’ning soul you move
To pleasures that can never cloy.
Your eyes, your mien, your tongue declare
That you are music ev’rywhere.

Pleasures invade both eye and ear,
So fierce the transports are, they wound,
And all my senses feasted are,
Tho’ yet the treat is only sound,
Sure I must perish by your charms,
Unless you save me in your arms.


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Mr Darcy

Sometimes, when I listen to ‘A postcard to Henry Purcell’, which is used on the soundtrack for the film ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I wonder how many people know that it’s only a contemporary version of Rondeau from the Abdelazer Suite by the English Baroque composer, Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695). Both pieces are significant and beautiful and I would not say, ‘This one is better because it incorporates more instruments, and so on’. Beauty is relative.

Actually, this piece inspired me to contemplate on one of the film’s characters, Mr Darcy. Although Mr. Darcy is a fictional figure and the first adaptation of the movie was made over 70 years ago and the novel was written in 1812, he is still perceived by women as charming, attractive and as a matter of fact, the ideal man. No wonder that Mr Darcy became an object of male jokes.

A few years ago, Australian comedian and member of The Chaser satirical group, Chris Taylor, dressed himself as Mr Darcy and went out into the street to find out if studies saying that Mr Darcy ‘is the number one fantasy for women’ were true. Obviously women whom he accosted did not react positively to him, as the clothing, the language, and gestures were weird. At least Taylor was as smart as a fox, and ‘managed’ to prove that women’s daydreams of Mr Darcy are not real at all.

On one hand, the ideal picture of Mr Darcy is exaggerated, as he was very proud, introverted and rigid. One the other hand, the gentlemen from The Chaser seemed to forget about something else, as women don’t miss nicely dressed gentlemen with good manners. First of all, Mr Darcy represents timeless values which might be invisible, such as: self-sacrifice or unconditional love (he never said to Elizabeth, ‘I love you because…’, and married her although she wasn’t from his social class).

Well, these values are difficult, as they would cost us our ‘ego’. I mean, it concerns both sides: contemporary Mr Darcies and Elizabeths. Why are there so many fake romantic characters around? They love without devotion or run away when their own prejudices appear to be stronger than their feelings.

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Filed under Contemporary society