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Dante Alighieri Music

Early Music

What would Dante have danced to at his wedding? What music would have been playing in the background as Francesco and Paolo kissed? (Okay, probably none—there were no stereos then.) Still, music was an important part of the medieval period, and this site is a great introduction to the music of Dante's era and beyond.

"Dante's Prayer" by Loreena McKennitt

Singer and songwriter Loreena McKennitt wrote this song based on the Divine Comedy . "When the dark wood fell before me/ And all the paths were overgrown . . . When the dawn seemed forever lost/ You showed me your love in the light of the stars." Sound familiar?

These two operas are both based on the story of Francesca da Rimini, the woman trapped in Dante's Inferno thanks to her adulterous relationship with her lover Paolo. Forced to marry a deformed man whom she does not love, Francesca fell in love with her husband's brother Paolo. The doomed lovers are stuck forever in the winds of passion in Dante's Hell. Rachmaninoff's opera, originally composed with a Russian libretto, takes place in two acts. Zandonai's, originally sung in Italian, takes place in four.

Robert W. Smith, The Divine Comedy Symphony

American composer Robert Smith has composed symphonies based on Homer's Odyssey and Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote. This epic work was inspired by Dante. Like Dante's masterpiece, the symphony moves from Hell to Purgatory and then finally to Paradise.

Franz Liszt, The Dante Sonata

Hungarian composer Franz Liszt wrote this sonata for the piano based on Dante's Divine Comedy . It is written to evoke the feelings associated with Dante's work.

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