We commission and perform all the music that you hear when you come to a performance in our theatres.
Shakespeare's plays are filled with music: they include more than 2,000 references to music, over 400 separate musical terms and around 100 songs.
The musicians who perform in our productions play a vast array of instruments from the familiar to the highly unusual, often appearing in costume, on stage amongst the actors.
Theatre is a special experience because each performance is a unique event. Music is crucial to any theatrical performance – the unique power of music helps to establish location, period, status, and mood; it also reinforces emotional atmosphere and tension, and drives the narrative.
We commission great composers to write new music for all of our productions. Over recent years, this list has included:
We record the newly-composed scores from each production as we work our way through the canon of Shakespeare's plays. The recordings are available to buy on CD or via download, and include music from the current production, selections of music from a previous production by significant 20th-century composers such as Ralph Vaughan Williams and Stephen Warbeck, and speeches performed by members of the current cast.
So far we have produced Music and Speeches recordings for the following plays:
Eventually, we'd like to offer you a complete collection of music for Shakespeare's plays. We're also aiming to provide a glimpse of our historic archive of scores, dating back well over a century. Visit our Shop to see what we currently have on offer.
RSC musical archive
The music that's composed for each of our productions is archived once the shows come to an end. At the moment, our archive holds over 400 scores composed for Shakespeare plays, written by over 100 different composers. More recent scores have been produced and archived digitally, but going back further in time, the music was handwritten.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust archive includes records from our Music Department and its predecessors, and we have scores in the archive composed for productions in Stratford-upon-Avon by many significant composers of the 20th century.
The Boy in the Dress
In 2019, David Walliams’ heart-warming comedy was brought to the stage for the first time in a musical with all new songs from Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers. The original cast recording was released in 2020, with 21 tracks from the show, plus two bonus demo tracks performed by Robbie Williams.
The Boy in the Dress CD
Matilda The Musical
We asked Australian comedian and musician Tim Minchin to collaborate with playwright Dennis Kelly on a new musical adaptation of one of Roald Dahl's well known children's stories. Matilda The Musical has now won over 90 international awards and has played around the world, including a Korean-language production that took place in 2018.
Matilda The Musical CD
get in touch
If you're a musician who'd like to work with us, email your details and CV to our Music Department and we'll keep your information on file.