Eco and Music

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At present, this page is wide open for any discussion of the (possibly too broad?) subject of Eco and music.

Name of the Rose

Any music mentioned in there?

  • The 1986 film adaptation contains music by famous American soundtrack composer James Horner.
  • Oddly enough, "the first full length album by the Japanese glam-goth band, D, is called The name of the ROSE [sic]. Lord only knows in what ways, if any, it references Eco's first novel, but given that the band members are named such polyglot amalgamations as JE*REVIENS, As'REAL, and Claire de Lune (the capitalization, as in the album title, seems to matter), they either subscribe to Eco's linguistic notions or just borrowed the name because it sounds cool. Any Japanese readers want to chime in on this one?" Via The Modern Word

Foucault's Pendulum

Any music mentioned in there?

Island of the Day Before

Any music mentioned in there?

  • As discussed below, Eco alludes to the 17th century flute and recorder composer, Jacob van Eyck.


Any music mentioned in there?

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

Eco references tons of music from the Italy of his childhood. More to be added from the Queen Loana section

The Prague Cemetery

Any music mentioned in there?


Any substantial (rather than passing) discussion of music?

Desert Island Discs

In 1995, Eco was a guest of the BBC4 radio show, "Desert Island Discs", in which guests are interviewed and discuss their favorite pieces of music. Eco picked:

  • "As Time Goes By," as featured in Casablanca. "I am one of them who when watching Casablanca are able to anticipate every line." Eco has written about the film in “Casablanca, or, The Clichés are Having a Ball” (published in Signs of Life in the U.S.A.: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers).
  • Chopin Sonata 2 op 35, first movement, which reminded him of his childhood. "It was probably the first classical composition I heard... after the War... [Classical music on the radio] was the door I entered to live in the classical music universe."
  • The Threepenny Opera, "music of Kurt Weill, that I consider one of the greatest contemporary composers." A selection from "Ballade von der sexuellen Hörigkeit" (Ballad of Sexual Dependency) is played.
  • Bach, Goldberg Variations, "are a perfect merging of musical complexity and complete friendliness for the listener. You can abandon yourself and follow them without any effort." When asked if he could have only one recording on his desert island which would he take, Eco chose the Goldberg Variations because they can "last indefinitely."
  • Jacob van Eyck, "a Flemish-Dutch flutist of the Cathedral of Utrecht... who produced a 3-volume corpus, Der Fluyten Lust-hof, which is a masterpiece of flute music. I play them, and they are for C-recorder. And it has become one of the characters of my new novel, because my protagonist, Roberto della Griva, at a certain point meets in a Dutch cathedral a blind flutist. And the two ships of my novel are called Daphne and Amaryllis, [and these are the names of pieces] by Van Eyck that I like more." A performance of the first part of "Daphne" is played, by Franz Brugen. There's more on the van Eyck / Island of the Day Before connection here and here.
  • Beethoven Symphony 7, 2nd movement. "Particularly fond of that because [once when I was young] I remember that one evening at the conservatory of Torino, I did not find any place, so I was obliged to sit up there on a step. I didn't see the orchestra. I was alone, so maybe prepared to muse. And at the second movement, in a way, I cried. And it reminds me [of] that intense musical experience."
  • Aria from the end of Mozart's Don Giovanni, "This is part of the final act... when the commander arrives. All the arias of Don Giovanni became so popular because they are easy to sing. This one, cannot. The melodical line [is] so difficult that you can listen to it for years and never be-- except when you are a professional, and you sing it professionally-- is of such a difficulty, once to render this sudden apparition of death, of the infernal, of the infernal power, something that escapes human comprehension, and that it escapes also the human musical comprehension. I think it's a terrible passage. It makes me thrill every time I hear it."

Eco on whether he writes listening to music: "It depends. Sometime I need a musical background, and sometime not."