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.
Concert: ‘Pacifism and Pierrot: Debussy in Bloomsbury’
Friday 22nd June 2018, 6-7.30pm in Colyer-Fergusson Hall, University of Kent
This concert springs from the recent discovery that Debussy’s children’s ballet La boîte à joujoux (‘The Toy Box’) was premiered by the Omega Workshops in 1915. The performance was part of a series of pacifist concerts fundraising for Belgian refugees who made up the orchestra; the ‘dancers’ were cardboard marionettes, designed and operated by Workshop members.
This concert of French song and piano music explores themes of pacifism, feminism and equality through music associated with the Omega Workshops and with Virginia Woolf. Rarely performed music by Germaine Tailleferre and Nadia Boulanger complements familiar favourites by Debussy and Poulenc. The programme culminates in La boîte à joujoux, accompanied in this performance by images. Performers: Lana Bode (piano) and Suzanne Fischer (soprano).
A free drinks reception takes place in the interval.
The concert is preceded by a panel of talks introducing these works and music’s role in early twentieth-century pacifism (late afternoon, Woolf Lecture Theatre, University of Kent; free, all welcome). Speakers: Prof Christine Froula (Northwestern), Dr Charlotte de Mille (Courtauld Institute), Dr Emma Sutton (St Andrews).