William Morris and Kelmscott
A concert exploring the role of
music in the life of Morris
A young man steeped in classical,
medieval and renaissance divinity, literature, music, art and architecture, William Morris embarks on life, but to what ends?
He meets Jane Burden, they marry in 1859
and Morris’s ideals become encapsulated in the founding of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co (1861).
They move to Kelmscott Manor in
1871, a hugely inspirational ‘Heaven on Earth’ with fishing, a wonderful garden - and artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti as an emotionally complicating
Morris learns Icelandic and translates a
huge swathe of Sagas, complete with dragons.
A staunch socialist he writes Chants for
Socialists (1885) and inspires composers Holst and Vaughan Williams. He also fights for historic buildings via the Anti-Scrape movement (he creates the Society for the Protection of
Ancient Buildings, SPAB, in 1877). Morris promotes design through the Kelmscott Press, crafting handmade books with exquisite decorations.
A final trip to Norway, and the fading
William Morris returns to the Renaissance music which he loved at Oxford, listening as he lay in bed to Arnold Dolmetsch playing Byrd on his virginals.