Lord Byron and the Hebrew Melodies


Bryan Cheyette writes:

A few weeks ago, during a busy term, I was asked to appear on a Michael Rosen radio programme about Byron’s Hebrew Melodies. This is a little known volume and was set to music by a composer, Isaac Nathan, who is even more obscure. My first thought was that I was much too busy and was more knowledgeable about the second half of the nineteenth century rather than the earlier period where Byron was a celebrity before going into exile.

I contacted a few friends who I assumed would be much more knowledgeable than myself but none had heard of Isaac Nathan. So I decided to read more about him and found him a fascinating character. He was a talented musician who was also a womanizer, gambler and, like Byron, was something of an outsider. After going bankrupt, he also left England and became the first national composer of Australia who included traditional aborigine music in his compositions. I became fascinated by this figure and appeared on the programme which turned out to be great fun. Here is a link to the programme which is available for another month: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0741b8w

The moral of the story is don’t say ‘no’ immediately to a new opportunity but take some time to look into it and it may be as fun and as fascinating as Lord Byron’s Hebrew Melodies!

About Cindy

Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
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