Tristram Shandy (2009)


In 2009, that year being the 250th anniversary of the publication of the first two volumes of Laurence Sterne’s ‘Tristram Shandy’, we undertook a project to devise a musical and theatrical entertainment based on Sterne’s novel.


There is no ‘opera’ or ‘musical’ on Tristram Shandy, although many composers have been influenced by Sterne’s writing and some, both in the 18th century and in modern times, have made musical settings of passages from the book.   The attraction of the book, apart from its outrageous comedy, is its non-linear structure.  The writing suggests, in many ways, techniques of musical composition.  In addition Sterne makes many specific references to music and musical techniques.   Many artists, from Hogarth to Tom Philips, have drawn inspiration from Sterne.   After discussions with Patrick Wildgust, curator of Shandy Hall (Sterne’s home in Coxwold, near York), we were convinced that there was a wealth of material that could provide the stimulus for creative work leading to a full evening production.  In effect, the aim was to translate the novel into a musical entertainment reflecting the remarkably innovative 18th century techniques employed by Sterne –  the use of endless repetition, visual insertions, musical allusion etc – while giving maximum creative freedom to the participants over a five week devising and production period.  The result was ...

What is all this story about?
The Making of the University of York Practical Project 2009

A documentary by undergraduate student, Martin Scheuregger.