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Shakespeare texts?

We are looking for choral music that uses Shakespeare texts. We are a high school choral program that ranges from two- and tree-part men's & women's up to advanced SATB choirs. All suggestions, in any style, are welcome. Thanks!
Replies (35): Threaded | Chronological
on August 19, 2014 11:23am
Hi Frank - I apologize for the shameless "self-promotion", but I would be honored if you would consider "A Shakespeare Suite" which was recently published with Santa Barbara.  I wrote and dedicated it to a feeder high schools in Arizona(Highland HS).  It has 3 movements, #1 "Sigh, No More Ladies"(for women), #2 "Take, O Take Those Lips Away" (for men), and #3 "It Was a Lover and His Lass" (full choir, and soprano solo).  All have piano accompaniment.  You can hear all 3 on the Santa Barbara
web site.  They are listed individually. 
Best wishes,
on August 19, 2014 12:16pm
Seems like this topic comes up from time to time!  
And here are a whole bunch offered free by the composers, or in the Public Domain:
Click the links under "settings of his literary works" pages where you can listen to and download the sheet music.  
M. Furtak
on August 19, 2014 4:00pm
I shall also apologize for my shameless "self-promotion" :)  Please conisder "Two Kisses" for SATB and piano.  This is a paired work: Included is "Plato's Kiss" short a cappella and "Shakespeare's Kiss" with piano. Each can be performed separately.  The work is published by, but can be purchased through JWPepper and SheetMusicPlus.  The text is from Romeo and Juliet; an intensely adoring, moving, accompanied work of Romeo’s words shared in dialogue within the chorus. "Shakespeare’s Kiss" is dedicated to the Ward-Mellville High School Camerata and Director, Linda Contino.  Here is there performance:
Best of success in finding your perfect program.
Rick Bartlett
on August 19, 2014 7:05pm
I can offer you several pieces.  
Three Shakespeare Songs SSA, trumpet, piano.
•Hark, Hark, the Lark
•Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind
•Orpheus with his Lute.
      Originally written for children's chorus, suitable for women.  
       Orpheus has been posted on the Composers Showcase.  Click here.
Music of the Spheres, SATB, horn, and piano; or SSA, horn and pi  
    How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank...
     from the Merchant of Venice.
Full Fathom Five SA, horn, piano
     This may be more suitable for younger voices, through it has been
     sung by women's choruses.
These pieces are unpublished; contact me if you care for scores and recordings.
Brian Holmes
on August 19, 2014 7:28pm
You might take a look at my own Book of Sonnets.  They are all different levels, scored SAB piano, and are free at
Hope that helps!
Michael A. Gray
on August 20, 2014 3:21am
More shameless self-promotion here...
I have two pieces you may wish to examine:  an SATB setting of "While You Here Do Snoring Lie" from The Tempest that was commissioned by The Taconic High School Chorus, Paula Nuss, Conductor, and a fun SATB piece not written by the bard but sounds like it could have been - "O Proud Left Foot" with text by Jeff Brechlin.  Jeff won a Washington Post writing contest by telling the reader how to do the Hokey Poke in the style of Shakespeare.  This is published by Cypress Choral Music.  If interested, contact me and I'll send mp3s.
Steve Murray
on August 20, 2014 5:03am
Frank, if your group is advanced enough, please consider
"The Serenade to Music" Vaughn-Williams.
Dennis Houser,
Prescott, AZ
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 20, 2014 5:17am
I can't remember the exact title, but there are five songs by Theron Kirk using Shakespearian texts. Interesting music, and nice to perform.
on August 20, 2014 6:15am
Again, apologies for the self-promotion.
Orpheus With His Lute Made Trees by Nick Page  SATB a cappella  Boosey & Hawkes
The piece fuses Rennaisance with minimalistic.  You can hear it on my website in the choral music section.
on August 20, 2014 8:18am
I like Emma Lou Diemer's Three Shakespeare Songs--SATB with piano.  I would also suggest Matthew Harris' Shakespeare Songs--he has FIVE BOOKS of them and all are unaccompanied and range from easy to difficult with different voicings depending on the song.   There is certainly something you could like/use. I especially like, "There was a Lover and His Lass", "Tell Me Where is Fancy Bred" and "Who is Sylvia?"---Sylvia is funky!
Applauded by an audience of 3
on August 31, 2014 8:52am
When searching for the Diemer look for "Three Madrigals" as they are published under that name.  I've used these with great success with our 9th -10th grade students and with our Chamber Choir.  I think it's a Boosey & Hawkes imprint...
on August 20, 2014 9:20am
Dear Frank,
I've made an SATB a cappella setting of Sonnet 43. It has been performed by the small community chorus I direct. Please contact me if you'd like a perusal copy and/or recording.
When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see, 
For all the day they view things unrespected; 
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee, 
And darkly bright are bright in dark directed; 
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright, 
How would thy shadow's form form happy show 
To the clear day with thy much clearer light, 
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so? 
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made 
By looking on thee in the living day, 
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay?
   All days are nights to see till I see thee,
   And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me. 
best wishes,
Anna Dembska
on August 20, 2014 9:55am

Full Fathom Five (SSA) composed by Jack Curtis Dubowsky. For SSA choir. Choral. Secular; contemporary. Octavo. Composed 2001. 4 pages. Duration 1:30.

Published by De Stijl Music (D1.SM-01-0001).

Lyrics by Shakespeare from "The Tempest." Trippy, quiet, and eerie.

Full Fathom Five Dubowsky preview
on August 20, 2014 2:00pm
Hi Frank,
More self-promotion; after all, that's what this site is for, right?
My "Melted Into Dreams" also uses text from "The Tempest."  SSAATTBB, a cappella, duration c. 5:00. Available from my self-publishing entity, Beady Eyes. Perusal and audio clip links below:
Best of luck with your search.
Carol Barnett
PS - Matthew Harris has written quite a few excellent Shakespeare settings.  Here's a link to his website:
on August 21, 2014 2:10am
You might consider my "Perchance to Dream", which has won the Meistersingers Knapp Award this year and is now available through SheetMusicPlus. It is a setting of the beginning of the famous monologue from Hamlet "To be or not to be", scored for SATB, piano and triangle (which can be played by a member of the choir). Duration 5:30.
on August 21, 2014 6:00am
I have an SATB (some div.) a cappella setting of My Mistress’ Eyes that is well field tested! You may listen to it here:
Perusal and complete scores are available from me directly.
I also have a cantata-length Shakespearian Fancy on songs & scenes from A Midsummer Night's Dream for SSATTBB soli (all characters from the play), SATB div & orchestra (2d2-2d1-0-2 2-2-0-0 perc (3), celesta, hp, str (minimum 3-3-2-2-1) that has had only one performance and could use a second! Please contact me privately for materials/audio.
Hope this helps,
Robert A.M. Ross
Chair, Music Department
Community College of Philadelphia
robertamross(a) <Robert Ross 11>
on August 21, 2014 8:47am

Please consider my Shakespeare setting "That time of year" composed in 2010, ECS Publishing #7740.
Kindly follow this liink
to hear the wolrd premiere performance by the Saint Joseph Valley Camerata, David A. Seitz, music director.
A couple of other titles in the publisher's catalog that come to mind are
"Dirge from Cymbeline" by Conrad Susa (SATB, Trumpet), ECS Publishing #4405, and
"Shakespeare Madrigals" by Gregg Smith (SATB), ECS Publishing #5453.

Thank you for your consideration.

Stanley M. Hoffman

Stanley M. Hoffman, Ph.D.
Chief Editor
615 Concord Street, Framingham, MA 01702
e-mail: smhoffman(a) 
Canticle Distributing, 1727 Larkin Williams Road Fenton, MO 63026-2024 
ph 800-647-2117 (USA only)     
ph. 636-305-0100 (outside USA and inside metro St. Louis)
fax  636-305-0121
e-mail: morningstar(a) 

on August 21, 2014 2:37pm
Hello Frank,
Way back when... actually during and for my first and only year in High School teaching, I wrote an SSAATBB setting of Sheakspeare's A Lover and His Lass. It won the CAMMAC prize that year and was subsequently published by Berandol.
A review on MusicPlus' site <>; states "This a capella piece, while 'early Patriquin', is as sparkling and effective as his vivacious 'J'entends le moulin', which has been sung by literally hundreds of North American choirs. The work of some 4 minutes was written for a high school choir and won the CAMMAC prize for new choral music. Like much of Patriquin's music, it is highly charged rhythmically, and employs the madrigal-like devices of canon, augmentation, word painting and ostinato. Each line is carefully crafted to make it as 'melodic' as possible. It is relatively easy to learn the notes - and then the fun begins! It easily bears repetition, both by audience and choir and certainly makes a wonderful 'finale' or encore piece. This bouncy, always fresh piece is highly recommended."
Although at times in 7 parts, it is very accessible and fun. Moderate difficulty (3/5)
on August 22, 2014 8:18am
Hi Frank,
Here's a video of Book I on youtube:
Best wishes,
Allison Weissman
G. Schirmer, Inc.
on August 23, 2014 9:44am
Well, as long as we're all shamelessly self-promoting, I have a setting of "Here will we stit and let the sound of music creep in our ears. Soft stillness and the night become the touches of sweet harmony." "Sweet Harmony"  (SSAA, piano, and double bass) is a light jazz, close harmony arrangement (Shakespeare and Jazz -- together again!) that was a donated commission, but still awaits first performance, which is up for grabs. You can email me at braptormusic(a) 
Best wishes,
Anthony Doherty 
on August 23, 2014 2:33pm
Vaughan Williams' "3 Shakespeare Songs" are pretty close to perfection in choral music, in my opinion. (Though the 3rd is one long tongue-twister.) They are difficult to sing, but if you have an advanced group capable of the necessary divisi, they offer excellent opportunities for musical growth. And they're so beautiful!!

Closer to home, I have a setting of the snippets of folk songs that Ophelia sings near the end of her time in Hamlet. You can hear it here:
Also fairly difficult. I think all parts divide except sopranos. Requires an excellent pianist. But there's the possibility that could all be right up your alley! So I'd be happy to send you the score if you're interested.
:) evan
on August 23, 2014 5:22pm
The Vaughn-Williams and Matthew Harris (both already mentioned) are quite wonderful, but may be challenging.
If you have access to a professional harpist, James Bassi's HarpSonnets set 4 Shakespeare sonnets for SATB choir and harp and are quite welll-received by audiences.
For your non-SATB groups,
Ernst Krenek's Fairies' Song (text from MidSummer Night's Dream) SSA is quite fun
Alice Parker's Fairy Songs - also MidSummer Night's Dream - 2 part, pentatonic accompanied by 2 recorders.  Originally intended for children - I have performed with older singers (who have read and enjoyed the play.)
I recently had my HS singers perform an all-Shakespeare program and included settings by Renaissance composers (Ben Jonson - Full Fathom Five, Morley - It Was a Lover and His Lass) and I composed a piece using text from Romeo and Juliet  (SSA) that I am happy to share.  I figured many students are most familiar with R&J so it seemed a good entry point for my singers.
on August 25, 2014 1:00pm
Dear Frank,
Another one to add to your list of possibles:
This is for SATB choir and has been successfully performed by a group of mostly non-readers at the University of Glasgow (ages 18-20ish) so would be very suitable for any SATB choir.
I could rearrange for other forces (e.g. SSABar) if that would be helpful - email and let me know (chris(a)
Chris Hutchings
on August 27, 2014 1:02pm
Hi Frank,
I invite you to consider my "Wise Words of Love" for SSAA/piano.
The text is selected lines from Shakespeare plays spoken by women characters on various aspects of romantic love. The duration is about 13 minutes, with nine short movements: Disdain, Pursuit, The Eyes of Love, Folly, Courtship, Passion, Devotion, Marriage, and Parting. It goes from tongue-in-cheek to deeply romantic and back again. A perusal PDF is available on request. You can read details and hear a concert recording on my website store:
It's been performed successfully several times. Here's a review posted on ChoralNet.
Kind regards,
Rebecca Oswald
on August 28, 2014 8:57am
I recommend "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day" by Swedish composer Nils Lindberg. Beatiful. From the composers web site: 
on August 29, 2014 4:31am
I agree with Olav. Lindberg's "Shall I compare thee" is just gorgeous, both for audience and for singers, and beautifully captures in music the atmosphere of the sonnet.
I'd also like to offer a strong recommendation for Jaakko Mäntyjärvi's Four Shakespeare Songs. You can easily find performances on YouTube, and I think they will speak for themselves.
on August 30, 2014 10:21am
May I add, "My Mistress' Eyes" for SATB?  Setting the funny Sonnet 130 for a cappella mixed chorus, it was commissioned by Meistersingers (California) and premiered last June.  Timing is 4'55".  It's not yet available via my website, but contact me for a persual score, audio, etc.  
Christopher J. Hoh
on August 31, 2014 6:24am
I'd self-promote if I'd ever written anything, but since I haven't I'll recommend some wonderful seetings for treble choir that my HS students have loved:
Robert Jones: Lullaby for Titania (SSA a cappella)
Clifton Noble Jr.: Sigh No More Ladies (SSA with challenging piano part)
Verdi: Witches Chorus from Macbeth
William Schuman: Orpheus With His Lute
on August 31, 2014 6:30pm
Last year, I was commissioned by Jeremy Nabors and the Chapel Hill High School choirs to compose "The Tempest" for their combined SATB choirs. It is set for SATB, optional soloists, and piano, and sets portions of the shipwreck scene (opening scene) of "The Tempest." The CHHS choirs premiered it in October of 2013, and it received its West Coast premiere by Meistersingers (California) this June. It is about 4'55" and is fairly dramatic. Please contact me for a sample score and audio.
Ryan Kelly
on September 1, 2014 7:30pm
Dear Frank:
The Georgetown University Concert Choir presented a delightful program called "Shakespeare & Friends" in spring 2011.  This program included texts by Shakespeare, as well as music and texts by his contemporaries, plus selections from modern musicals based on Shakepeare.  Here is the repertoire from that program:
  • Sing We and Chant It (music by Thomas Morley; text by Michael Drayton)
  • Madrigals Three (music by Emma Lou Diemer; texts by Thomas Campion, John Donne, & William Shakespeare)
  • Romeo and Juliet (music by John Purifoy; text by Shakespeare)
  • The Lark at Heaven’s Gate Sings (music by Cory Johnson; text by Shakespeare)
  • Dirge from Cymbeline (music by Conrad Susa; text by Shakespeare)
  • Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day? (music by Z. Randall Stroope; text by Shakespeare)
  • Three Poems by Robert Herrick (music by Bill Cutter)
  • Live With Me, and Be My Love (music by Reginald Unterseher; text by Christopher Marlowe)
  • Weep, O Mine Eyes (music & text by John Bennet)
  • Witches’ Charm from Macbeth (music by Conrad Susa; text by Shakespeare)
  • Falling in Love with Love, from The Boys from Syracuse (music by Richard Rodgers; lyrics by Lorenz Hart)
  • So In Love, from Kiss Me, Kate (music & lyrics by Cole Porter)
  • Brush Up Your Shakespeare, from Kiss Me, Kate (music & lyrics by Cole Porter)
  • Serenade to Music (music by Ralph Vaughan Williams; text by Shakespeare)
  • Somewhere, from West Side Story (music by Leonard Bernstein; lyrics by Stephen Sondheim)
Of special note are "Dirge from Cymbeline" and "Witches' Charm from Macbeth," both by Conrad Susa, who was just featured in the August 2014 Choral Journal.
Best wishes,
Paul Heins
Applauded by an audience of 1
on September 2, 2014 6:02am
Hi there!
I have a piece called "Sonnet 43" which is....a setting of the 43rd sonnet!  It's set for 6-part mixed choir and has been performed by several choirs over the past year including, most recently, the Ontario Youth Choir.  Here is a video of a performance by the Larkin Singers in Toronto from a concert in April 2014:
This piece is published by Rhythmic Trident Music Publishing.
~laura hawley
on September 5, 2014 10:29am
Pardon the length of this email, but I figured some might find it useful.
I just did this concert with Meistersingers (all 3 premiers were mentioned above, actually!) and it was very successful. Below is our program, followed by my runner-ups. Then my NO list. While these weren't for us necessarily for this concert, it is nice to know what is out there.
Happy Singing!
-Brian Dehn
Founder/Conductor, Meistersingers 
The Lover the Lunatic and the Poet
The Lover
Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day – Stroope 
For Thy Sweet Love – Young
It was a Lover and His Lass (from “Madrigals Three”) – Diemer
Take, O Take those Lips Away (from “Three Madrigals”) – Diemer
Sigh, no more, ladies, sigh no more (from “Three Madrigals) – Diemer
Come Away, Death – Vaughan Williams
Shakespeare Songs Book II – Harris
Take, O, Take, Those Lips Away (Book II, I) – from Measure for Measure 
                Tell Me Where is Fancy Bread (Book II, II) – from Merchant of Venice  
My Mistress Eyes – Hoh (WORLD PREMIERE)
The Lunatic
Four Shakespeare Songs – Mäntyjärvi  
                2. Lullaby – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
                3. Double, Double, Toil and Trouble – MacBeth
Three Shakespeare Songs – Vaughan Williams  
                Full Fathom Five
                The Cloud-Capp’d Towers
                Over Hill, Over Dale
Songs Of Ariel – Martin  
  1. Come Unto This Yellow Sands
  1. Before You Can Say, “Come and Go”
   5.    Where the Bee Sucks
 The Tempest – Kelley (WEST COAST PREMIERE)
The Poet
When That I Was and a Little Tiny Boy – Harris 
And Will A’Not Come Again? – Harris
When He Shall Die – Sametz 
Serenade to Music – Vaughan Williams                 
Perchance to Dream – Jan Wilke (2014 KNAPP AWARD WINNER – WORLD PREMIERE)
Hey, Ho, The Wind and the Rain – Frackenpohl
                 OTHER POSSIBILITIES
Three Shakespeare Songs – Giles Swayne – Excellent  
I Think on thee – Gawthrop
When Shall We Three Meet Again – Kalmer – Yes!
Come Away, Death – Yeh Huai-Deh
Come Away, Death – Schmidt  
Shall I Compare – Lindberg
Four Ballads of Shakepseare – Komulainen OK
  1. To be, or not to be – OK
  2. O Weary night – OK
  3. Three words – OK
  4. Tomorrow and Tomorrow – NO
Fancies I – Johanson  - Almost!
  1. Sylvia
  2. Under the Greenwood Tree
  3. Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind – NO
  4. Fancy
  5. O Mistress Mine
Fancies II – Johanson
  1. Lovers in the Spring- ok
  2. Winter – ok
  3. Dirge – y
  4. Hark! Hark! The Lark - y
Three Songs from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer… - Ratcliff – SSA  #3 is pretty!
Take, O Take Those Lips Away – Hughes/Loose – good easy
Three Madrigals (Fairies’ Song) – Krenek – yes too short
Shall I Compare Thee – Dahlquist – yes TTBB
Songs of Springtime (1 and 5) – Moeran
As You Like it – Edward Green – SSA  
O Mistress Mine – Hays – NO
O mistress mine – orban – jazzy
O Mistress Mine – Zaimont
The Years at the Spring – Barnum (very hs)
Sigh No More – Robert Boyd (SSAA)
Shall I Compare Thee – Harris (TTBB)
Glories of Shakespeare – David Willcocks (long set for SSA)
O mistress mine – Willcocks – ok
Sigh No More Ladies – Hughes/Loose – SA (too H.S.)
Come Away Death – Christopher Delp (SSAA)
Three Shakespeare Songs – John Crawford (SSA)
Songs from the Tempest – Spencer (SSA)
Dirge from Cymbeline – Susa (TTBB and Trumpet) – good
How Sweet the Moonlight – Vick (looks interesting, need to hear)
How Sweet the Moonlight – Young – SSAA
Three Shakepseare Songs – Amy Beach (SSAA)
Witches Chorus (MacBeth Opening Chorus) – Verdi (SSA)
Come Away – Orban
Orpheus With his lute – Orban – OK, no
Blow, Blow – Trotta – cool ideas, almost
O mistress mine – RV Williams
Sign No More – Baksa (rest of set?)
Four Shakespeare Songs – Mäntyjärvi   12 min total
                Come Away, Death – Twelfth Night – NO
                Lullaby – A Midsummer Night’s Dream – YES
                Double, Double, Toil and Trouble – MacBeth – YES 
                Full Fathom Five – The Tempest – NO
Willow Song – Vaughan Williams
Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind (Book IV, I) – Harris
Shakespeare Book 6 – Harris – NO
Sonnet No. LXIV – Argento   worth?  
After Sunset – Young  
Sigh No More Ladies – Clausen – NO
Three Shakespeare Songs – Brown – worth?
Six Shakespeare Songs – Shaw –
O Mistress Mine – Dickau – OK
Lovers in the Spring – Dickau
It was a lover and his lass – Kirk
It was a lover – Swingle – not for us
Seven Shakepseare Songs – MacFarren  
Orpheus With his Lute – RVW – Solo or McDowell setting – yes for SSAA
Songs and Sonnets – Shearing – for us????
  1. Live With Me and Be My Love
  2. When Daffodils begin to peer
  3. It was a lover and his lass
  4. Spring
  5. Who is Sylvia
  6. Fie on sinful Fantasy
  7. Hey, Ho the Wind and the Rain
Applauded by an audience of 2
on September 24, 2014 7:32am
Great list, Brian– a useful reference. However, I do not understand the NO list. Is this simply the list of pieces you looked at and decided – for any reason – these pieces would not be programmed, or does it imply (as I first read it) that these are not really very good pieces? Some of the "NO" pieces you have marked as being "YES" and some are "NO". GWB could not have done better! (LOL)
on September 23, 2014 10:36pm
Hello, here's one more: Shakespeare Suite by Nancy Wertsch.
on September 24, 2014 11:46pm
Hello Don/all 
My "No" list was simply for us (Meistersingers), for this concert. There are some great pieces in there, to be sure! Sorry for the confusion. The seemingly contradictory information was for me and I simply did not do a good enough job of purging my notes!! Ignore all the "yes"'s and "no"'s!
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