Composers > Inspiration > The Inspiration of Imagination – Fictional Characters in Music
by Maureen Buja | January 2nd, 2019

standard The Inspiration of Imagination – Fictional Characters in Music

The Rhine Maidens (Met Opera)

The Rhine Maidens (Met Opera)

Composers are inspired by the world, by their experiences, and by others’ imaginations. Novels and stories have been set by composers as everything from little piano pieces (here, Debussy was inspired by the Golliwog character in children’s book by Florence Upton.)

Debussy: Children’s Corner: VI. Golliwog’s Cake Walk (Kyoko Tabe, piano)
to full-blown operas with casts of gods and demi-gods.

Wagner: Das Rheingold: Scene 1: Weia! Waga! Woge, du Welle! (The Rhine Maidens: Eri Nakamura; Aurhelia Varak; Hermine Haselböck; Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra; Jaap van Zweden, cond.)
This series will look at the variety of ways that composers have sought and found inspiration in the characters that spring from authors’ imaginations.

Mickey Mouse as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Disney’s Fantasia

Mickey Mouse as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Disney’s Fantasia

Authors such as Goethe created characters such as Faust, the Erlkönig, and even the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Dukas: L’apprenti sorcier (Ireland RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra; Jean-Luc Tingaud, cond.
Richard Burton’s translation of the traditional folk stories in his 10-volume collection from 1885: The Book of the One Thousand and one Nights brought us characters such as Aladdin, Ali Baba, Sinbad the Sailor, and even Scheherazade, the story teller, herself.

Keller: Scheherazade und Sultan Schariar (1880)

Keller: Scheherazade und Sultan Schariar (1880)

Forssen: Scheherazade
We’ll range far and wide on this search for fictional characters who inspired composers: from traditional fairy tales to modern comics. Little Red Riding Hood to Flash Gordon – there’s a world of inspiration everwhere!

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