The Virginia Woolf & Music project explores the role of music in the lives and legacies of Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group through concerts, research, workshops, public talks, exhibitions and commissions of new works of art.
Virginia Woolf famously stated ‘I always think of my books as music before I write them,’ and her writing continues to influence composers who have set her words or been inspired by her novels. The project highlights the central role of music in her literary experiments, showcasing music that inspired her writing and that directly responds to her work, including new commissions, world premieres, and little-known music by women composers.
Founded in 2015 with an AHRC Cultural Engagement grant, the UK-based project embraces the feminist, pacifist and cosmopolitan spirit of the Bloomsbury Group. Our collaborators range from primary schools and library reading groups to international academic conferences, theatre companies and renowned performers of classical music.
In this feature programme marking the ninetieth anniversary of the publication of The Waves, artists reflect on the ways this novel has inspired their own creative work and practice. Pianist Lana Bode, Artistic Director of the Virginia Woolf & Music project, discusses what Woolf means to her and reflects on her acclaimed recording of Domenick Argento’s song cycle From the Diary of Virginia Woolf with Marta Fontanals-Simmons. Composer Jeremy Thurlow, whose works include the string quartet Weaving Threads (commissioned by the project and inspired by a passage in Orlando), considers music’s role in Woolf’s life and her influence on his work. Novelist Amy Sackville, musician Steve Harley and Woolf Works dramaturg Uzma Hameed reflect on the importance of rhythm to Woolf’s writing and their creative lives.