William Sterling

Orpheus – Life after Death

Orpheus – Life after Death

Unlike other Greek Heroes Orpheus was basically peaceful. He braved the Underworld and was one of the Argonauts. Ever since he has been a major influence for artists and composers.

Douglas Strachan Orpheus in the Music Hall Aberdeen

This course was run at the City Lit on Saturday 3rd March 2018. We studied the Greek Myths surrounding Orpheus and the influence the story has had on artists and composers ever since.

We covered the story of Orpheus and Eurydice and how he braved the terrors of the Underworld in order to try and rescue her, his part in the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece, and his tragic death. Several episodes from these stories have influenced painters such as Albrecht Durer, Jan Brueghel, Nicolas Poussin, Peter Paul Rubens, Eugene Delacroix, Gustave Moreau, Frederic Leighton, William Waterhouse and Marc Chagall. Since the earliest days of Opera composers have been drawn to the story including Claudio Monteverdi, Georg Philipp Telemann, Christoph Willibald Gluck, Joseph Haydn, Jacques Offenbach and Darius Milhaud.

A list of Operas based on the Orpheus story

Operas on the Orpheus Legend

Other Music based on the Orpheus story including settings of Shakespeare’s Orpheus with his Lute

Other Music on the Orpheus Legend

Some notes on the composers whose music I played extracts from and others whose works have been recorded and are available on CD or to download as MP3 files

Music for Orpheus from C16th onwards

These are my notes for the course – some of the highlighted passages are those I quoted to the class.

The Orpheus Myths and Later Traditions

These are the slides annotated and in a form that can be printed off

Orpheus slides as printable handouts

These slides show objects in the British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum related to the topic.  they do not currently have labels but are mostly self explanatory.  I will add labels at some point but if there is something you do not understand you can always email me.

Orpheus at the British Museum and Victoria and Albert printable