Voltaire, Rousseau and the Enlightenment – VF at the Oxford Lieder Festival 2020

21/06/2021, 10:00 am - 11:00 am

We are delighted to share the video recording of our contribution to the Oxford Lieder Festival 2020!

Several events that year explored the Age of Enlightenment, asking what it signified for composers and poets in song. Nicholas Cronk, Director of the Voltaire Foundation, introduces Voltaire and Rousseau, two key Enlightenment figures. We are delighted to present this from the stunning Upper Library in Queen’s College, one of Oxford’s great libraries, built between 1692 and 1695.

In Rousseau, we find not only philosopher but also both poet and composer, and this is a rare opportunity to hear some of his own songs. Rousseau was a well-known composer in his own day (Beethoven arranged an aria from his opera Le Devin du village) and wrote many songs. These were collected in a volume compiled in 1781, three years after his death, in a collection entitled Les consolations des misères de ma vie.

Voltaire appears in song primarily via a translation into Russian of his poem ‘À Madame la Princesse Ulrique de Prusse’ by Pushkin. We hear four settings of this poem by Cui, Glazunov, Arensky and Rimsky-Korsakov.

Nicholas Cronk (Speaker)

Suzanne Aspden (Speaker)

Charlotte La Thrope (Soprano)

Nathaniel Mander (Harpsichordist)

Oliver Johnston (Tenor)

Natalie Burch (Pianist)

Presented in association with TORCH, with support from the Humanities Cultural Programme, the Voltaire Foundation, and The Queen’s College.

This event was broadcast as part of the online Oxford Lieder Festival in October 2020.

Voltaire Foundation

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