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Sir Laurence Olivier


Sir Laurence Olivier is world famous for his outstanding artistic achievement in the theatre and cinema. He directed stage and film productions that are considered the most difficult ones in the world repertoire. If you saw him on the stage you would understand why he was constantly attracting the best critics’ attention. If you saw him on the screen you would not forget the images he created.

Olivier’s career as a stage and film actor spanned more than six decades. He played a wide variety of roles on stage and screen from Greek tragedy, Shakespeare and Restoration comedy to modern American and British drama. He was the first artistic director of the National Theatre of Great Britain and its main stage is named in his honour. He is generally regarded to be the greatest actor of the XX century, in the same category as David Garrick, Richard Burbage, Edmund Kean and Henry Irving in their own centuries.

Sir Laurence Olivier In his work as actor and director there was some particular method, or rather his own approach to acting. He relied greatly on rhythm – that is change of speed of speech, change of expression, change of pace in crossing the stage, being not so particular about his costume or make-up. He was constantly changing because he wanted to keep the audience awake.

He wouldn’t change every minute if he didn’t want the public to respond. He believed that the audience wouldn’t respond if he did what he was expected to do. In this he followed the advice given many years ago by Feodor Chaliapin to an actor: “Never do what the audience expects you to do.” Olivier once said that if Chaliapin had taken breath when he was expected there wouldn’t have been an illusion of his having sung the whole phrase in one breath. The public wouldn’t have admired him. But Olivier was sure that no tricks would make an actor great. If he himself hadn’t had qualities that widen your vision, and add to your understanding of the world, he wouldn’t be regarded as a distinguished actor. These qualities are: thorough knowledge of the play in which he was performing, artistic imagination, physical, intellectual and spiritual strength, a sense of display and an ability to identify with a role or, in other words, to take on the core of a character.

For Olivier identification with a role, a complete transformation into a character was not a should, it was a must. He couldn’t understand other famous actors who in the middle of their monologues about passion, power, death were wondering what they would like to have for supper. He wouldn’t be able to play if he began to think about such things. Olivier was always interested in what agitated the soul. It may seem curious what he himself said about it: “Even if I were not an actor I would be interested in what agitates the soul. If you want to excite people, you should know what makes them respond, what makes them agitated. So if I am going to play a part, first of all, I ask myself what kind of man my character is, and what there is about him that might excite people. And if I couldn’t imagine the entire man, the whole mind of the character, if I didn’t feel I am that man whom I am going to play, I wouldn’t be able to identify easily and naturally, I wouldn’t be able to play, I wouldn’t have made an actor,” said Olivier. With such a particular approach to acting it is no wonder that Olivier created many unforgettable characters, among them — Hamlet, Richard III, Doctor Astrov, Julius Caesar, Titus Andronicus, to mention just a few.

Let’s dwell, for example, on some peculiarities of his image of Titus Andronicus. As Titus Olivier’s terrifying quietness is the quiet at the core of a hurricane. His fury is the fury of the storm in his mind. Just as his Lear is associated with the storm wind so his Titus is associated with the sea. Olivier cries out the words: “I am the ocean!” – as if he were really an ocean, with its waves beating on the world’s shore. When we hear Olivier pronounce the words we forget their inadequacy in the splendour of a projection. The impression is that you not only grasp the image in the character’s mind, but the pronounced words reveal the reality hidden under the surface of things.

To display the character vividly, to make us feel what is happening under the surface, using different, unexpected modulations of the voice, using particular but natural gestures, changing pace and expression, conveying any tiny emotion is a very difficult task for an actor. Olivier coped with it splendidly. His ability to take on the essence of the character was the key to his magic. This ability created miracles on the stage and on the screen.


items of self-study work


1. Shakespeare and his Globe Theatre.

2. Mrs Sarah Siddons – the tragic muse.

3. Bernard Shaw and his plays.

4. Oscar Wilde – his life and his plays.

5. The image of theatre in W.S. Maugham “Theatre”.

6. London’s Covent Garden and its history.

7. Contemporary actors in the UK – are they as great as their famous predecessors?

8. The Redgraves – theatre dynasty.

9. Royal Shakespeare Company: a XXI Century renaissance.

10. “Hamlet” – history of performance.

11. Laurence Olivier Awards and their winners.


BACON, FRANCIS (1909 – 1992) – an Irish artist known for his richly coloured paintings with twisted human and animal shapes. He has gained a controversial reputation for the macabre or “anguished” style of his pictures, most of which are portraits. His best-known works in this style are his variants of Velasquez’s portrait of Pope Innocent X, painted in 1953. Many of his portraits are religious in theme, and depict the Crucifixion; others are of friends. He has had two important retrospective exhibitions at the Tate Gallery in 1962 and 1985.


Bafle, Michael William (1808 – 1870) – the most successful composer of English opera in the mid-XIX century. During his lifetime he enjoyed an international reputation and worked with some of the leading singers of the time as he possessed a good baritone voice. He is known mostly for his operas “Satanella”, “Bianca, the Bravo’s Bride”, “The Puritan’s Daughter” and others. All in all, he wrote 28 operas for London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Milan, Trieste and Palermo – many of his operas have been performed around the world during the past 170 years.


Beatles, The – one of Britain’s most influential pop groups, first performing in 1959 in Liverpool. They made their first record in 1962 and became probably the most famous and successful group ever. At first, the group performed music that was influenced by American rock’n’roll and rhythm-and-blues. Lennon and McCartney’s songs, however, became increasingly sophisticated and experimental, and their imag­inative lyrics and memorable melodies soon contributed to the distinctive “Mersey sound”. Their records were consistently top of the pop music charts in the mid-1960s, their first great success being Please Believe Me in 1962. They also made several successful films. In the late 1960s the group studied Indian mysticism and used hallucinatory drugs, and both activities influenced their music. When they separated in 1970, each member of the group continued to work in popular music. Paul McCartney then formed the successful group Wings while John Lennon wrote and recorded music in America with his second wife Yoko Ono.

BEECHAM, Sir THOMAS (1897 – 1961) – an English conductor. Devoted to broadening British musical tastes, he created the Beecham Symphony Orchestra in 1909. In 1932 he founded the London Philharmonic Orchestra and in 1947 the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; he also founded opera companies. Though he had significant gaps in his technique, he was an incomparable interpreter of the music he loved, especially that of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; of his contemporaries, he particularly championed Richard Strauss and Frederick Delius.


Blake, William (1757 – 1827) – an English poet, painter, and printmaker. He developed an innovative technique for producing coloured engravings and began producing his ownillustrated books of poetry with his “illuminated printing,” including Songs of Innocence (1789), The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1793) and others. A late series of 22 watercolours inspired by the Book of Job includes some of his best-known pictures. He was called mad because he was single-minded and unworldly; he lived on the edge of poverty and died in neglect. His books form one of the most strikingly original and independent bodies of work in the Western cultural tradition. Ignored by the public of his day, he is now regardedas one of the earliest and greatest figures of Romanticism.


BOWIE ['bəuı], DAVID (1947 – …) – an English song-writer and singer of popular music, who has also acted in plays and films.


BOY GEORGE, born George Alan O’Dowd (1961 – …) – a British popular music singer who became successful with the group Culture Club in the early 1980s. He often dresses like a woman, and wears heavy makeup.


BRITTEN ['brıtn], BENJAMIN (1913 – 1976) – an English composer of music mainly for voices, including the operas Peter Grimes (1945) and Billy Budd (1951). His works range widely from arrangements of simple folk songs for voice and piano to such large, dramatic executions as the children’s opera Noyes Fludde (1958) and the sombre, serious War Requiem (1962). He was noted for his skill as an opera writer and for his use of children’s voices in both religious and secular works. His output also extended to music for radio and films. His greatest achievement, however, was as an opera writer. Benjamin Britten was awarded the Companion of Honour in 1953, the Order of Merit in 1963, and was made a life peer in 1976. His name is associated with Aldeburgh Festival.


Burbage / Burbadge, James (1531 – 1597) – an English actor, theatre impresario, and theatre builder in the English Renaissance theatre. He built The Theatre, the facility famous as the first permanent dedicated theatre built in England since Roman times. Burbage seems also to have been involved in the erection of the Curtain Theatre, and, later, the Blackfriars Theatre, built in 1596 near the old Dominican friary. Trained as a joiner, Burbage took up acting and was a member of Leicester’s Men by 1572; he appears to have been a leader of that company by 1574. James Burbage’s son Richard Burbage became one of the most celebrated actors of his era.


Byrd, William (1539/1540 – 1623) – an English composer of the Renaissance. He cultivated many of the forms current in England at the time, including various types of sacred and secular polyphony, keyboard and consort music. He is renowned as Britain’s finest composer of sacred choral works, as well as for his keyboard music and songs. His works include three masses (for three, four, and five voices), some 220 Latin motets, four important Anglican services, and some 60 anthems, as well as some 100 virginal pieces (many preserved in the collections Parthenia and The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book).


CONSTABLE, JOHN (1776 – 1837) an – English painter. Along with Turner, he is considered to be one of the greatest English landscape artists. He often took the countryside of East Anglia as his subject, esp. the parts along the River Stour, known now as Constable Country. His paintings, e.g. The Hay Wain (1821, National Gallery, London), show his detailed observation of nature, his free handling of paint, the “light-dews-breezes-bloom-and-freshness” of his landscapes were revolutionary; his work leads from the Dutch masters of the 17th century to the French Impressionists. Constable inherited the Dutch tradition of somber realism, but he aimed to capture the momentary changes of nature as well as to create monumental images of British scenery, such as The White Horse (1819, Frick Collection, New York) and Flatford Mill (1825). Toward the end of his career, he developed a more lyrical style, using thick layers of paint to create his effects.


COWARD ['kauəd], Sir NOEL [nəuəl](1899 – 1973) – an English playwright, actor, composer and entertainer. He is famous for his witty plays set m the years between the two world wars, including Hay Fever and Private Lives. Among the works he wrote for the screen is the wartime film drama In Which We Serve. His songs include Mad About the Boy and Some Day I’ll Find You.


DELIUS ['dı:lıəs], FREDERICK (1862 – 1934) – an English composer of classical music. His works, influenced by Claude Debussy, include the operas A Village Romeo and Juliet (1901) and Fennimore and Gerda (1910); the tone poems Brigg Fair (1907) and On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring (1912); and the choral works Appalachia (1903) and A Mass of Life (1908).

Dowland, John ( 1563 – 1626) – an English composer, singer, and lutenist. Most of Dowland’s music is for his own instrument, the lute. It includes several books of solo lute works, lute songs (for one voice and lute), part-songs with lute accompaniment, and several pieces for viol consort with lute. His Lachrimae is a collection for viol-and-lute ensemble, a set of seven pavanes for five viols and lute, each based on the theme derived from the lute song “Flow my tears”. It became one of the best known collections of consort music in his time. Dowland’s music often displays the melancholia that was so fashionable in music at that time.


Dunstable, John (1385 – 1453) – an English composer. His life and career are almost completely obscure. After his death he came to be credited with the achievements of all his English contemporaries. He left at least 50 compositions, all for three and four voices and almost all sacred. Their full triadic harmony and frequent parallel motion in the voices represented an important innovation that influenced XIV century composers. Dunstable was probably the most influential English composer of all time, yet he remains an enigma: his complete works were not published until the quincentenary of his death in 1953.


Edwards, Richard (1523? – 1566) – an English poet and playwright; he was made a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and was master of the singing boys. He was known for his comedies, madrigals and interludes. In 1566, Edwards’ Palamon and Arcite was performed before Elizabeth I at Oxford when the stage fell – three people died and five were injured as a result. Despite the tragic accident, the show continued to play that night. Damon and Pythias (written in 1564, published in 1571), a comedy, is his only extant play.


ELGAR ['elga:], Sir EDWARD (1857 – 1934) – an English composer of music for both instruments and voices, perhaps most famous for his Enigma Variations (1899). He wrote the music for a patriotic song Land of Hope and Glory. Edward Elgar is generally regarded as the first English composer of international stature since Purcell in the 17th century. His own works encouraged a revival of English music, but his symphonies have been compared to those of Brahms, and his fine The Dream of Gerontius (1900), regarded by many as his masterpiece, has been likened to the style of Wagner. Many of Elgar’s compositions are popular for their bold melodies, such as the moving slow theme of the much loved Enigma Variations and the patriotic Land of Hope and Glory tune in one of his Pomp and Circumstance marches (1901 – 1907, 1930). He is thought of as a very “English” composer.


ELTON, JOHN, born Reginald Dwight (1947 – …) – an English popular music singer, piano player, and songwriter known for his unusual, brightly decorated clothes and glasses and his financial support for Watford Football Club in London. His successful songs include Crocodile Rock and Candle in the Wind.

FORD, JOHN (1586 – 1639) – an English poet and writer for the theatre. His revenge tragedies are characterized by scenes of austere beauty, insight into human passions, and poetic diction of a high order. His reputation rests on the first four plays he wrote alone, only one of which can be dated with certainty: The Broken Heart; The Lover’s Melancholy (1628); Perkin Warbeck; and ‘ Tis Pity She’s a Whore, an eloquently sympathetic story of incestuous lovers that is his best-known work.


GAINSBOROUGH, THOMAS (1727 – 1788) – an English landscape and portrait painter. In 1760 he settled in Bath and painted society portraits. In 1774 he went to London and became one of the original members of the Royal Academy. He became a fashionable portrait painter with the English gentry and aristocracy, but also painted many fine landscapes. As a fashionable portrait painter he continued the tradition of Van Dyck; he himself preferred landscape painting, in which he followed the Dutch masters (in painting realistic landscapes rather than imaginative Italianate scenery), but contributed his own strong feeling for his native countryside. Combining both skills, he often placed the subjects of his portraits in outdoor country settings, capturing the subtle effect of light with rapid yet delicate brushwork. The chief quality of his work is its freshness and lightness of touch. Among his best-known portraits is that of Mrs Siddons, who was the leading tragic actress of her time.


Garrick, David (1717 – 1779) – an English actor, playwright, theatre manager and producer who influenced nearly all aspects of theatrical practice throughout the XVIII century. As an actor, Garrick promoted realistic acting that departed from the bombastic style that was entrenched when Garrick first came to prominence. His acting delighted many audiences and his direction of many of the top actors of the English stage influenced their styles as well. Furthermore, during his tenure as manager of Drury Lane, Garrick sought to reform audience behaviour. While this led to some discontent among the theatre-going public, many of his reforms eventually did take hold. In addition to audiences, Garrick sought reform in production matters, bringing an over-arching consistency to productions that included scenery, costumes and even special effects.

Gay, John (1685 – 1732) – an English poet and dramatist. He is best remembered for The Beggar’s Opera, which ran for 62 performances (the longest run to that date). The play, with music by John C. Pepusch, was a cynical tale of thieves and highwaymen intended to mirror the moral degradation of society; its success made it a landmark in music-theatre history. The characters, including Captain Macheath and Polly Peachum, became household names.


GILBERT and SULLIVAN – two men, Sir William Gilbert (1836 – 1911), librettist, and Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842 – 1900), composer, who worked together during the second half of the XIX century on many operettas such as HMS Pinafore (1878), The Pirates of Penzance (1879), and The Mikado (1885). The operettas (called Gilbert and Sullivan operas), which contain elements of satire, were originally staged (1875 – 1996) at the Savoy (Theatre), London, and have continued to attract a small but enthusiastic following.


GIRTIN ['gə:tın], THOMAS (1775 – 1802) – an English painter and etcher, who played a key role in establishing watercolour as a reputable art form. Girtin’s early landscapes are akin to XVIII century topographical sketches, but in later years he developed a bolder, more spacious, Romantic style, which had a lasting influence on English painting. The scenery of the North encouraged him to create a new watercolour palette of warm browns, slate greys, indigo and purple. He abandoned the practice of undershadowing in grey wash and then adding pastel patches of colour, in favour of broad washes of strong colour, and experimented with the use of pen, brown ink and varnish to add richer tones.

Goldsmith, Oliver (1730 – 1774) – an Anglo-Irish writer, poet, and physician known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), his pastoral poem The Deserted Village (1770), and his plays The Good-Natur’d Man (1768) and She Stoops to Conquer (1771, first performed in 1773).

Goldwin, John (1667 – 1719) – an English organist and composer of some excellent sacred music. In 1697 he became an organist at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. His works include a Service, several anthems and a little instrumental music.

Greenhill, John (1642 – 1676) –an English portrait painter. He was Lely’s outstanding pupil and one of the few British-born painters of this age who showed real promise, but he led a dissipated life and died young. There are several examples of his work, including a self-portrait, in Dulwich Picture Gallery, London.


GUINNESS, Sir ALEC (1914 – 2000) – an English theatre and film actor who gained an early reputation as a gifted and versatile actor of stage and screen, with his film roles including popular characters in the comedies Kind Hearts and Coronets and The Lady killers. He is best-known for his characteristically “underplayed” performances, making each role a distinctive and memorable one. He was made a knight in 1959.His best- known films are Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Kind Hearts and Coronets, in which he played eight parts.


GWYN, NELL (?1650 – 1687) – an English actress. She was selling oranges at the Drury Lane Theatre when she became the mistress of its leading actor, Charles Hart, who trained her for the stage. She became the leading comedienne of the King’s Company (1666 – 1669) and as “pretty, witty Nell” was in demand as a speaker of impudent prologues and epilogues. She became the mistress of Charles II (1669–85) and was popular with the public, who found her high spirits and frank recklessness welcome antidotes to Puritanism.


HANDEL, GEORGE FREDERICK (1685 – 1759) – a British composer, born in Germany, one of the great composers of the baroque era, known especially for his Messiah (1741) and other oratorios, and for his orchestral music, particularly his Water Music (1716) and Music for the Royal Fireworks (1749).


HARRISON, GEORGE (1943 – 2001) an English popular musician and songwriter who played with The Beatles. His songs include My Sweet Lord.


HAWKINS, JAMES (? – 1729) – a chorister of St. John’s College, Cambridge, and afterwards organist of Ely Cathedral. He was a voluminous composer of church music, and 17 services and 75 anthems by him are preserved in the library of Ely Cathedral. Two services and 9 anthems are also included in the Tudway collection. Hawkins transcribed and presented to the library of Ely Cathedral many volumes of cathedral music.


HILLIARD ['hılıəd], NICHOLAS (1537 – 1619) – the first and greatest English painter of miniatures, and the first great artist of the English school. The son of a goldsmith, he trained as a jeweler and began painting miniatures in his youth. In 1570 he was appointed miniature painter to Elizabeth I. He produced many portraits of her and of such members of her court as Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh. He retained his appointment on the accession of James I (1603), while also practicing as a goldsmith and jeweler. The first great native-born English painter of the Renaissance, he raised the art of miniature painting to its highest point of development and influenced English portraiture through the early XVII century.


HOCKNEY, DAVID (1937 – …) – an English artist known esp. for his paintings of people and water. David Hockney has for many years been one of the leading “cult” artists in Britain, and has become well-known for his imaginative and witty paintings. Many of his pictures show isolated or lonely subjects, such as a single vase of yellow tulips or a lone nude boy in a swimming pool. Hockney’s own personal appearance has itself become as distinctive as his own paintings, with his bleached hair, round spectacles and odd-coloured socks.


HOGARTH ['həuga:ө], WILLIAM (1697 – 1764) – an English painter and engraver who produced portraits and moralizing genre scenes. He is best-known for the satirical series engravings The Harlot’s Progress, The Rake’s Progress and Marriage a la Mode. His works show the weaknesses and wicked pleasures of his times. His portraits are extremely direct and full of character, for example Heads of Six of Hogarth’s Servants (c. 1750-55, Tate Gallery, London).


Holbein the Younger, Hans (c. 1497 – 1543) – a German artist and printmaker who worked in a Northern Renaissance style. He is best known as one of the greatest portraitists of the XVI at the English Court. He produced not only portraits and festive decorations but designs for jewellery, plate, and other precious objects. His portraits of the royal family and nobles are a vivid record of a brilliant court in the momentous years when Henry was asserting his supremacy over the English church. His art has sometimes been called realist, since he drew and painted with a rare precision. His portraits were renowned in their time for their likeness; and it is through Holbein’s eyes that many famous figures of his day are now seen.


Kemble, John Philip (1757 – 1823) – an English actor. He was born into a theatrical family as the eldest son of Roger Kemble, actor-manager of a touring troupe. His elder sister Sarah Siddons achieved fame with him on the stage of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. He played a huge number of parts, including a large number of Shakespearean characters, the character of the “noble Roman” so exactly suited to his powers that he not only played it with a perfection that has never been approached, but, it is said, unconsciously allowed its influence to colour his private manner and modes of speech. His tall and imposing person, noble countenance, and solemn and grave demeanour were uniquely adapted for the Roman characters in Shakespeare’s plays.


KNELLER ['nelə], Sir GODFREY (1646 – 1723) an English portrait painter of German birth a painter to British monarchs from Charles II to George I. Kneller concentrated almost entirely on portraiture. He founded a studio which churned out portraits on an almost industrial scale, relying on a brief sketch of the face with details added to a formulaic model, aided by the fashion for gentlemen to wear full wigs.


LAWRENCE, Sir THOMAS (1769 – 1830) – a portrait painter. He was a fashionable painter, who painted many of the famous people of his time. He became painter to George III in 1792 and president of the Royal Academy in 1820.


LELY ['li:lı], Sir PETER (1618 – 1680) – an English painter born in Germany of Dutch parents. He became court painter to Charles II and produced many portraits of the English aristocracy. Lely and his large workshop were prolific. After Lely painted a sitter’s head, his pupils would often complete the portrait in one of a series of numbered poses. As a result Lely is the first English painter who has left “an enormous mass of work”. Among his most famous paintings are a series of 10 portraits of ladies from the Royal court, known as the “Windsor Beauties” and a similar series for Althorp; a series of 12 of the admirals and captains.


LENNON, JOHN (1940 – 1980) – an English singer, guitar player, and song-writer who was a member of The Beatles and joint writer of many songs with Paul McCartney. In 1970 The Beatles separated and John Lennon continued alone, producing songs of peace and love. He was murdered in the US in 1980. He was married to Yoko Ono.


LLOYD WEBBER, ANDREW (1948 – …) – one of the most popular and successful writers of musicals in the present century. Andrew Lloyd Webber is the composer of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, J esus Christ Superstar, By Jeeves, Evita, Variations and Tell Me On A Sunday later combined as Song & Dance, Cats, Starlight Express, The Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love, Sunset Boulevard, Whistle Down the Wind, The Beautiful Game and The Woman in White. He composed the film scores of Gumshoe and The Odessa File, and a setting of the Latin Requiem Mass Requiem for which he won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Composition. In summer 2002 in London he presented the groundbreaking musical Bombay Dreams. His awards include seven Tonys, three Grammys, six Oliviers, a Golden Globe, an Oscar, an International Emmy, the Praemium Imperiale and the Richard Rodgers award for Excellence in Musical Theatre. He was knighted in 1992 and created an honorary life peer in 1997.


Macfarren, Sir George Alexander (1813 – 1887) – an English composer. During his lifetime, Macfarren’s music – symphonies mostly – was met with a mixed reception. Those who thought highly of his work praised its originality and its tastefulness. Others, however, criticized it, arguing that “with all its very great and solid merit, can be said to be original in style only in virtue of the logical results of certain theories of harmony held by its composer”. Macfarren’s music is capable of graceful lyricism, what may be a desire to avoid cliches in the songs leads him at times to an unexpected angularity of line that seems more awkward than fresh.


MARLOWE ['ma:ləu], CHRISTOPHER (1564 – 1593) – an English writer of plays and poetry. His most famous play is The Tragicall History of Doctor Faustus (published 1604), which uses the dramatic framework of a morality play in its presentation of a story of temptation, fall, and damnation. The Jew of Malta (published 1633) may have been his final work. His poetry includes the unfinished long poem Hero and Leander. Known for leading a disreputable life, he died a violent death at age 29 in a tavern brawl; he may have been assassinated because of his service as a government spy. His brilliant, though short, career makes him William Shakespeare’s most important contemporary in English drama.


McCARTNEY [mə'ka:tnı], PAUL (1942 – …) – an English popular music singer and guitar player, and one of the members of The Beatles. He wrote most of their songs with John Lennon. He later formed a new group, Wings, and continues to write songs and perform.


MERCURY ['mə:kjurı], FREDDIE (1946 – 1991) – a British popular music singer with the group Queen, known for his strange clothes and exciting performances on stage. He died of aids.


Morley, Thomas (1557 or 1558 – October 1602) – an English composer, theorist, editor and organist of the Renaissance, and the foremost member of the English Madrigal School. Though he composed a number of anthems and psalms, he is best known for his secular songs, including those published in the First Booke of Ayres (1600), and for the treatise A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musick (1597). By editing and printing several anthologies of Italian music (often reworked), he was instrumental in bringing the Italian madrigal to England. He also edited The Triumphes of Oriana (published 1603), the most significant collection of English madrigals.


Oliver, Isaac (c. 1565 – 1617) – a French-born English portrait miniature painter. He then studied miniature painting under Nicholas Hilliard; and developed a naturalistic style, which was largely influenced by Italian and Flemish art. After the death of Elizabeth I, he became a painter of James I’s court, painting numerous portraits of the queen Anne of Denmark and Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales. Some of his work is housed in Windsor Castle. Some of his pen drawings are located in the British Museum.


OLIVIER [ə'lıvıeı], Sir LAURENCE ['lorəns], also Larry (1907 – 1989) – an English actor thought of by many people as the greatest of the 20th century. He appeared in the theatre and in many films. He was the first director of the National Theatre (1963 – 1973), where one of the auditoriums was named in his honour. Olivier was the first actor to be made a life peer. He joined the Old Vic in 1935. As an actor, he became much admired for the range and expressiveness of his performances. After early success in films (e.g. Wuthering Heights), he established his stage reputation mainly in Shakespeare, and came to be regarded as the greatest English actor of his generation. He performed many Shakespearean roles in films (e.g. Henry V, Hamlet, Richard II and Othello, the first three also directed by him).

OSBORNE ['əuzbo:n], JOHN (1929 – 1995) – an English writer of plays whose most famous works are Look Back in Anger and The Entertainer. The play Look Back in Anger was very successful when it was first produced in 1956. Osborne became the spokesman of the so-called angry young men, a new generation of writers who attacked British stratified society.


OTWAY, THOMAS (1652 – 1685) – a playwright. Educated at Winchester and Oxford, Otway failed as an actor some years before he succeeded as a playwright. His first two plays, Alcibiades (1675) and Don Carlos (1676), are tragedies in the then-dominant style of heroic couplets and elevated rhetoric, but there are signs, particularly in Don Carlos, of a more delicate and intimate approach to the creation of character under duress. It is Otway’s emotional honesty, together with his satiric denial of hope, that distinguishes his finest tragedies, The Orphan (1680) and Venice Preserved (1682).


PINTER, HAROLD (1930 – …) – a dramatist, actor and stage director, one of the most influential of modern British playwrights. He is best-known for plays like The Caretaker, which show the strangeness of ordinary lives and family relationships. Many of the characters in these plays are ordinary or unimportant people, and they frequently speak in a way that reflects the illogical comments and hesitations of everyday conversation. His plays explore people’s failures to communicate with one another, and the animal instincts behind civilized appearances.


PRIESTLEY, JOHN BOYNTON (1894 – 1984) – a British writer and broadcaster who took a humorous view of English life in his novels, e. g. The Good Companions. His many plays include Dangerous Corner. He also wrote about literature, travel, and society, and was noted for his radio talks during the Second World War.


PURCELL ['pə:sl], HENRY (1659 – 1695) – an English composer. His first known composition was written at age eight. When his voice changed, he assisted in keeping the royal instruments in repair and tuning the Westminster Abbey organ. He became organist there in 1679 and at the Chapel Royal in 1682. He wrote music in a number of genres. His opera Dido and Aeneas (1689) is notable for achieving a high degree of dramatic intensity within a narrow framework. This he followed with the “semi-operas” King Arthur (1691), The Fairy Queen (1692), and The Indian Queen (1695). He also wrote much incidental music, some 250 songs, 12 fantasias for viol consort, and many anthems and services.


REDGRAVE 1'redgreıv], Sir MICHAEL (1908 – 1985) – an English film and theatre actor. He made his stage debut in 1934 and acted with the Old Vic and the National Theatre in classic roles from William Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen, and Anton Chekhov and in modern works such as Family Reunion (1939) and Tiger at the Gate (1955). Noted for his refined good looks and expressive voice, he began his film career in The Lady Vanishes (1938) and continued with roles in Dead of Night (1945), Mourning Becomes Electra (1947), and The Browning Version (1951). His wife is actress Rachel Kempson, and his children, Vanessa, Lynn, and Corin, have acted in films and plays. Vanessa has become very famous.


REDGRAVE, VANESSA (1937 – …) – a powerful and versatile actress who first appeared on the London stage in 1958, together with her father, the renowned actor Sir Michael Redgrave. She soon gained approval for her sensitive performances in all types of plays, from Shakespeare to the present day, and has won special praise for her ability to express strong emotions of excitement. From the 1960s, she has been involved with left-wing politics and anti-nuclear campaigning. This has been the cause of some controversy.


REYNOLDS, Sir JOSHUA (1723 – 1792) – the leading portrait painter of his day, and the first president of the Royal Academy. His work is dignified and classical, using many ideas from painters of the past. He painted many important people, including his friend Samuel Johnson. His portraits display a facility for striking and characterful compositions in a consciously grand manner. He often borrowed Classical poses, for example Mrs Siddons as the Tragic Muse (1784, San Marino, California). He expressed his views on the value of aca­demic art and the status of the artist in his lectures, known as Discourses.


RICHARDSON, Sir RALPH (1902 – 1983) – an English actor known for his Shakespearean roles on stage. He began his acting career at age 18 and gained prominence in the 1930s and ’40s at the Old Vic in roles such as Peer Gynt, Petruchio, Falstaff, and Volpone, gaining a reputation as one of the greatest actors of his time. He made his screen debut in 1933 and became known for playing urbane, witty characters and later for eccentric old men. His many films included The Fallen Idol (1948), Doctor Zhivago (1965), and Greystoke (1984).


Rich, John (1692 – 1761) – an important director and theatre manager in XVII century London. He opened the New Theatre at Lincoln’s Inn Fields (1714) and then the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden (1732) and began putting on ever more lavish productions. Rich’s theatre specialized in what contemporaries called “spectacle”. Rich’s company also staged a number of rarely-seen Shakespearean plays.

Richardson, Vaughan (c. 1670 – 1729) – English organist and composer. He was chorister in the Chapel Royal, and was appointed organist of Winchester Cathedral in 1692. He is known mostly for his church music – services, anthems – and songs for one-three voices with instruments.


Riley, John (1646 – 1691) – an English Baroque Era Painter. His early career is obscure, but he emerged as the most distinguished figure in English portraiture in the brief interval between the death of Lely in 1680 and the dominance of Kneller. Although he was appointed principal painter to William III and Mary II, his finest works are not court portraits but depictions of sitters from humble callings; the two best known are The Scullion and Bridget Holmes, a full-length portrayal of a nonagenarian royal housemaid who brandishes her broom at a mischievous pageboy. Riley was generally more successful painting men than women (and his unassuming sincerity of presentation exemplifies a typically English approach to portraiture that he passed on to his pupils.


Rolling Stones, The – a British popular music group which was formed in the 1960s and became one of the most successful ever. The group still sometimes play together, and the best-known member is Mick Jagger.Together with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones were one of the most important British pop groups of the 1960s. The group formed in 1963, and the initial established line-up was Mick Jagger (vocals, born 1943), Keith Richard (guitar, vocals, born 1943), Brian Jones (guitar, vocals, 1942 – 1969), Bill Wyman (bass, born 1936) and Charlie Watts (drums, born 1941). The group arose from the members’ “mutual interest” in blues and rhythm-and-blues. The Rolling Stones were deliberately brash, anti-establishment and provocative. Their public behaviour was severely criticized by some section of the media for their alleged decadence. This “shock effect” was precisely what they wished to achieve, and their powerful and uninhibited music was a major factor in the development of Britain’s “alternative society”. The group’s two most popular hits were Satisfaction (1965) – I Can't Get No Satisfaction, the full title, summarized their philosophy of frustration and ferocity — and Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1968) (name taken from a song by the American black singer Muddy Waters).


ROMNEY, GEORGE (1734 – 1802) – an English painter. He was one of the most fashionable portrait painters of the late 18th century, famous for his use of bright colours. In 1762 he established himself as a portraitist in London and quickly won favour among society patrons. His success depended on the flattery of his likenesses; he avoided any suggestion of the sitter's character or sensibilities. Infatuated with Emma Hart (later Lady Hamilton) c. 1781 – 1782, he went on to paint more than 50 images of her. Line, rather than colour, dominates his work, and the flowing rhythms and easy poses of Roman Classical sculpture underlie the smooth patterns of his compositions.


SHAKESPEARE ['ƒeıkspıə], WILLIAM (1564 – 1616) – an English writer of plays, one of the most famous ever, born in Stratford-upon-Avon. He is generally acknowledged to have been Britain’s finest playwright and one of her most accomplished poets. His plays show a great understanding of human activities of all kinds. In them he very skillfully uses many different literary styles to express a wide range of emotions and his work is famous for its sensitive view of human nature and for the richness of its language. Many well-known expressions have come from Shakespeare, for example, a winter of discontent. Because the English language has changed so much since Shakespeare’s day, many people (including school students obliged to read him for examination purposes) find his works difficult and “dated”. There have been several recent attempts to present his plays in a more accessible way, either by modernizing the language or by printing the original text with cartoon illustrations.


SHAW, GEORGE BERNARD (1856 – 1950) – an Irish writer and critic, famous for his writings on socialism and for his clever plays which point out fault in moral attitudes and in society. In his first play, Widowers’ Houses (1892), he emphasized social and economic issues instead of romance, adopting the ironic comedic tone that would characterize all his work. He described his first plays as “unpleasant” because they forced the spectator to face unpleasant facts; these plays include Mrs. Warren’s Profession (1893), which concerns prostitution and was barred from performance until 1902. He then wrote four “pleasant” plays, including the comedies Arms and the Man (1894) and Candida (1895). His next plays include Caesar and Cleopatra (1899) and Man and Superman (1905). His best-known play is Pygmalion. He received the Nobel Prize in 1925.


Sheppard, John (c.1515 – 1558) – one of the finest English church composers of the Tudor era. Sheppard’s music for the new English rite, which has suffered seriously from the loss of manuscript sources, was presumably composed during the reign of Edward VI which saw the publication of the Book of Common Prayer in 1549 and thus created a need for liturgical music for English texts. Four services have all survived in incomplete form, the Second Service being of interest in that it influenced the design of Byrd’s Great Service. Sheppard’s fifteen English anthems, comply with the demands of the Protestant reformers for simplicity, clear, audible words and largely syllabic text-underlay.


SHERIDAN, RICHARD BRINSLEY (1751 – 1816) – an English politician and writer of plays, born in Dublin. His comedy The Rivals (1775) introduced the popular character Mrs. Malaprop and established him as a leading dramatist. He became manager and later owner of the Drury Lane Theatre (1776 – 1809), where his plays were produced. He won wide acclaim for his comedy of manners The School for Scandal (1777) and showed his flair for satirical wit again in The Critic (1779). His plays formed a linking the history of the comedy of manners between the Restoration drama and the later plays of Oscar Wilde. In 1780 Sheridan became a Member of Parliament, where he was a noted orator for the minority Whig party. Despite his public success, however, his debts grew and he died in poverty.

SIDDONS, Mrs SARAH (1755 – 1831) – the sister of J. Kemble, the actor, probably the one great tragedy queen that Britain ever produced. She first attracted attention in the part of Belvidera in Otway’s Venice Preserved. Her performance as Isabella in Fatal Marriage at the Drury Lane Theatre in 1782 was highly successful; she was instantly acclaimed as the leading tragedienne of the time. Siddons played Shakespearean parts, notably Lady Macbeth, from 1785 until she retired in 1812. She was the subject of well-known portraits by Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds.


STARR, RINGO, born Richard Starkey (1940 –) – an English musician who was the drummer in the popular British rock group, The Beatles, during the 1960s until they split up in 1970.


STEWART, ROD (1945 – …) – a British popular music singer and songwriter, born in London and successful especially in the 1970s and 1980s. He is known for his pride in his Scottish family background and his love of football. His songs include Sailing and Tonight’s the Night.

STING (1951 – …) – the stage name of a popular music singer who used to sing with the British group Police. His real name is Gordon Sumner.


STUBBS, GEORGE (1724 – 1806) – British animal painter and anatomical draftsman. He is famous for his portraits of horses, which not only show the animal in careful detail, but also convey its spirit and dignity. After the publication of the book The Anatomy of the Horse (1766), containing 18 masterfully engraved plates, he was widely commissioned as an animal painter. The book shows the deep study that went into his work. He also painted many other animals, including lions, tigers, giraffes, monkeys, and rhinoceroses, which he was able to observe in private menageries. Stubbs is now recognized as one of the greatest English painters.


TATE, JEFFREY (1943 – …) – an English conductor who has worked with the English Chamber Orchestra, as well as in Paris and New York. The plays are usually described as comedies, tragedies and histories but this is an oversimplification as many of them do not fall neatly into any one category. Among the most famous of his plays are the tragedies of Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth, the comedies of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night, and the historical plays Richard III and Henry V. Shakespeare also wrote some very good poetry, especially the Sonnets. They show his extraordinary powers of expression and his depth of emotional understanding. He also worked as an actor at the Globe Theatre in London. He married Anne Hathaway in 1582 and they had three children. He is buried at Stratford-upon-Avon, and houses connected with him and his family can be visited there, as well as the Royal Shakespeare Theatre where his plays are regularly performed.


TIPPETT, Sir MICHAEL (1905 – 1998) – an English composer of music for voices and instruments, also known for his operas. His early music was conservative, but in the late 1930s he developed a personal, modernistic idiom that was marked by rhapsodic lyricism, intricate counterpoint, and polyphonic rhythms that have a lilting, bounding quality. He devoted most of his energies to compositions with words (generally his own), including the cantatas A Child of Our Time (1941) and The Mask of Time (1984), and the operas The Midsummer Marriage (1952), King Priam (1961), The Knot Garden (1969), and The Ice Break (1976).


TURNER, JOSEPH MALLORD WILLIAM (1775 – 1851) – an English landscape painter who used large areas of light and colour to express the effects of the forces of nature, as in his famous painting The Fighting Temeraire. In his early work he imitated the effects of the classical masters, but his work later became freer and more abstract. He travelled widely in Europe, and his landscapes became increasingly Romantic, with the subject often transformed in scale and flooded with brilliant, hazy light. Many later works anticipate Impressionism; for example, Rain, Steam and Speed (1844, National Gallery, London) and Snowstorm. His hazy swirling representation of light and weather foreshadowed the work of the Impressionists and abstract art. Turner’s later work was not much appreciated in his lifetime, but greatly influenced later artists, particularly Impressionists.


van Dyck, Sir Anthony (1599 – 1641) – a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England. He is most famous for his portraits of King Charles I of England and Scotland and his family and court, painted with a relaxed elegance that was to be the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for the next 150 years. He also painted biblical and mythological subjects, displayed outstanding facility as a draftsman, and was an important innovator in watercolour and etching.


VAUGHAN WILLIAMS [vo:n 'wıljəmz], RALPH (1872 – 1958) – an English composer. Having collected English folk songs for his academic work, he combined folk melody with modern approaches to harmony and rhythm, forging a musical style at once highly personal and deeply English. His nine symphonies, including Sea Symphony (1909), London Symphony (1913), and Sinfonia Antarctica (1952), were his most exploratory works. His work includes Norfolk Rhapsodies and Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. Probably more than any other British composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams was the true founder of a nationalist movement in English music. His great interest was English folk song, and this, combined with his interest in early English music, enabled him to develop a style that was both typically “English” and very original (e.g. his Sinfonia Antarctica of 1953). Many of his short pieces are very popular, such as the early song Lindn Lea (1902) and the stirring hymn-tune For All the Saints. He was awarded the Order of Merit for his services to English music.

Wallace, William Vincent (1812 – 1865) – an Irish composer and musician. Vincent Wallace was a cultivated man and an accomplished musician, whose work as an operatic composer, at a period by no means encouraging to music in England, has a distinct historical value. In 1845 his opera Maritana was performed at Drury Lane with great success. Maritana was followed by Matilda of Hungary (1847), Lurline (1860), The Amber Witch (1861), Love’s Triumph (1862) and The Desert Flower (1863). He also published a number of compositions for the piano.

WALTON, Sir WILLIAM (1902 – 1983) – an English composer. He established his reputation at age 19 by setting to jazzy music the whimsical poetry of Edith Sitwell. Walton’s later works include Belshazzar’s Feast (1931), two symphonies (1935, 1960), and concertos for viola, violin, and cello (1929, 1939, 1956). His scores for Laurence Olivier’s films of Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1947), and Richard III (1955) became well known; he also wrote coronation marches for George VI and Elizabeth II.


Weldon, John (1676 – 1736) – an English composer. He was educated at Eton, where he was a chorister, and later received musical instruction from Henry Purcell. By 1694 Weldon had been appointed organist of New College in Oxford and became well known in the musical life of that city, writing music for masques as well as performing his organist duties. Weldon’s musical style owes much to Purcell’s influence but is more Italianate and also embraces the “modern” French styles and forms that were becoming increasingly popular at the time. John Weldon devoted the latter part of his life almost exclusively to the duties of the Chapel Royal and to writing church music.


White, Robert (c. 1538 – 1574) – an English composer whose liturgical music to Latin texts is considered particularly fine. His surviving works include a setting of verses from Lamentations, and instrumental music for viols. In 1570 he was appointed organist and master of the choristers of Westminster Abbey. contrapuntal writing is very fine, though stilted. However, his “Lamentations”, set for five voices, have a flavour far in advance of his period, as also his motet “ Peccatum peccavit Jerusalem” and “Regina Coeli”.



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UNIT 1. MUSIC ……………………………………………….... 3

Main reading activities ………………………………...… 3

Vocabulary activities ………………………………..….. 15

Supplementary reading ……………………………….… 41

Items of self-study work …………………………..……. 48


Unit 2. Painting ………………………………………….... 50

Main reading activities …………………………….…… 50

Vocabulary activities ………………………………..….. 61

Supplementary reading ……………………………….… 80

Items of self-study work ……………………………..…. 86


UNIT 3. THEATRE …………………………………………… 88

Main reading activities ………………...……………..… 88

Vocabulary activities ………………………………….. 101

Supplementary reading ………………………………... 125

Items of self-study work ………………………………. 135


APPENDIX ………………………………………………..…. 136

BIBLIOGRAPHY ………………………………………….… 163


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