Wednesday 19 October 2022

DNA, Evolution, Music and more: The Darwins and Music

The Darwins and Music

In 1885, George Howard Darwin (son of the Charles Darwin of On the Origin of Species fame) and his wife bought Newnham Grange in Cambridge. After the death of George Darwin's son Charles (a physicist) the family gave the house for the foundation of Darwin College. Now, the college is the venue for a concert, on Saturday 29 October 2022, The Darwins and Music which looks at the Darwin family and their engagement with music, placing pieces by composers the family engaged with alongside contemporary pieces inspired by the Darwin's scientific researches.

They were a remarkable family and the concert looks at the musical interests of the enlightenment polymath Erasmus Darwin, through to his famous grandson, Charles Darwin and his wife Emma Wedgwood before ending on the musical interests of his son, George Howard Darwin, and grandchildren. The Darwin family intermarried with the Wedgewood farmily, creating a remarkable scientific/artistic nexus that the concert seeks to explore.

There will be music by John Alcock, Fanny Mendelssohn, Frédéric François Chopin and Ralph Vaughan Williams (whose mother was Charles Darwin's niece) and contemporary composer David Gahan. Gahan's string quartet, Eyenigma Variations: A Fantasia on Codes will be receiving its first public performance at the concert. Gahan describes the work as being "inspired by Darwin's writings on 'The Eye' (Ch. 6 ‘Origin’) - a transcription of the genetic code of the visual protein rhodopsin - various other musical codes, and variations on a well-known mid-Victorian hymn and counterblast to Evolution". The performers include Paul Warburton, Carola Darwin, Marie-Noëlle Kendall, and the Trinity Street Consort .

And the concert links in to the exhibition Darwin in Conversation: The Endlessly Curious Life and Letters of Charles Darwin at Cambridge University library.

Further details about the concert also from the library website, and tickets (which are free) from EventBrite.

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