James Joyce and music

Reading time: 1 min.

He wanted to cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music. (James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man)

There was a time when I was particularly attracted by the novelistic technique of Kafka and Joyce: their logic consists in leading you towards something new that you none the less think you recognize. This technique involves illusion and ambiguity and is of capital importance for me. (Pierre Boulez, Cité de la musique, Paris, 29 May 1998; translation: Stewart Spencer)

Find out more about Joyce’s influence on composers such as Boulez, Berio, Cage and Stockhausen on the excellent website The Modern World or in Scott Klein’s article “James Joyce and Avant-Garde Music”, or listen to an excerpt of Hans Zender’s opera Stephen Climax, which is based both on James Joyce’s Ulysses and on the life of Saint Simeon Stylites.


Sign up for our newsletter!

You will regularly receive information about new scores with free downloads, current prize games and news about our composers.