Voltaire, Rousseau and the Enlightenment

White L inside a blue circle, with lines coming off like a hurricane

This event will be broadcast from Upper Library, The Queen’s College

For more information and to book your tickets, click here.

Presented in association with TORCH, with support from the Humanities Cultural Programme, the Voltaire Foundation, and The Queen’s College

Several events this year explore the Age of Enlightenment, asking what it signified for composers and poets in song. Nicholas Cronk, Director of the Voltaire Foundation, introduces Voltaire and Rousseau, two key Enlightenment figures. We are delighted to present this from the stunning Upper Library in Queen’s College, one of Oxford’s great libraries, built between 1692 and 1695.

In Rousseau, we find not only philosopher but also both poet and composer, and this is a rare opportunity to hear some of his own songs. Rousseau was a well-known composer in his own day (Beethoven arranged an aria from his opera Le Devin du village) and wrote many songs. These were collected in a volume compiled in 1781, three years after his death, in a collection entitled Les consolations des misères de ma vie.

Voltaire appears in song primarily via a translation into Russian of his poem ‘À Madame la Princesse Ulrique de Prusse’ by Pushkin. We hear four settings of this poem by Cui, Glazunov, Arensky and Rimsky-Korsakov.

For more information and to book your tickets, click here.

Full Oxford Lieder Festival Programme can be found here.