Elizabeth Handley, musicologist, independent lecturer for the Arts Society, United Kingdom

Monday 23–Friday 27 January

11.15 am


Music and the visual arts evolved side by side. The history of both music and the visual arts is presented in a series of ‘periods’. These periods, formed in retrospect many years later, correspond to and were directly influenced by current events taking place at the time, and enable us to understand these changes. The introductory lecture will clarify the different periods and their principal characteristics, key figures and their significant contributions.

Understanding the art of the past requires certain perceptual skills – techniques for looking and listening that enable us to understand what the creators intended to communicate. Once acquired, these skills greatly enhance our understanding of, and pleasure in, great works of art. The second lecture provides guidelines for perceptive viewing of paintings, with an explanation of the signs and symbols used by artists.

In the third lecture various musical instruments no longer in use and featured in paintings are identified. Recordings of what they sounded like are included to enhance the overall experience of the paintings. The next lecture explores the techniques used by painters to capture the textures of objects and fabrics, while drawing parallels with the ‘warp and weft’ (complex polyphony) of music. It will be seen how these tricks and techniques were used to dramatic effect in the arts. The final lecture explores the inspiring effect that certain paintings had on composers, and vice versa – examples of paintings inspired by music.

Lecture titles

1. Who’s who in the gallery

2. How to read a painting

3. Musical instruments featured in paintings

4. Textures in art and music

5. Music inspired by paintings and paintings inspired by music