Following up on the playlist for Secrets of a Lady I posted a while ago, here’s a playlist for Beneath a Silent Moon:

Moonight Sonata, Ludwig von Beethoven

I spent a lot of time listening to Beethoven sonatas, trying to pick Mélanie’s favorite. I resisted this piece because I was afraid it was too obvious, but I kept coming back to it. This hauntingly beautiful music somehow seems right for Mélanie. She is playing it in the drawing room during Charles and Honoria’s scene on the terrace. It was only after Beneath a Silent Moon was published that I learned, to my profound embarrassment, that this sonata wasn’t called the Moonlight Sonata until after 1817 when the book is set. I was very happy to be able to correct this in the trade reissue. After consulting with a pianist friend, I reworded the lines to have Charles thinks of it as “Mélanie’s favorite Beethoven sonata, the one that always put him in mind of moonlight shimmering against water.”

Il catalogo è questo, Don Giovanni, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart & Lorenzo da Ponte

Leporello’s aria about Don Giovanni’s legion of conquests sums up Honoria’s and Val’s attitudes toward their love affairs. Mel refers to the aria, adding that Val’s appeal was “The eternal lure of Don Juan. Women like to think he’s looking for his one true love and that they’ll be the one to tame him. And all the time all he wants is another name to add to his infernal list.” That line came out of a talk I had with my friend Penny Williamson after a performance of Don Giovanni.

A Weekend in the Country, A Little Night Music, Stephen Sondheim

I love stories where characters with tangle lives and tangled love affairs converge at country house parties, as they do in both Beneath and in A Little Night Music. This song captures the delights and plot complications of a country house party story perfectly.

Per pietà, ben mio, perdona, Così fan tutte, Mozart & da Ponte

As the puzzle pieces are swirling in his head, Charles unconsciously finds himself picking out this aria on his mother’s Broadwood grand pianoforte. In this aria, Fiordiligi resists (with increasing difficulty) the impassioned pleas of her would-be lover Ferrando, not understanding that she is caught up in a romantic game that hinges on a bet. As Mel says, Charles’s choice of music is “Perhaps more apt than you know.”

No Place Like London, Sweeney Todd, Stephen Sondheim

I’ve always loved Sweeney Todd, but it wasn’t until I was watching the recent movie, not long before the reissue of Beneath, that I realized how much this opening song where Sweeney returns to London by boat, reflects Tommy’s attitude in the prologue to Beneath.

ll core vi dono, Così fan tutte, Mozart & da Ponte

Mel recalls joining Charles at the piano in a rendition of this duet, where Dorabella succumbs to Guglielmo’s romantic games. The Merola Opera Program did Così fan tutte the summer I was working on Beneath, and the opera, with its tension between a vision of love as a game and what treating love as a game does to the emotional reality, was definitely an influence on the book.

Being Alive, Company, Stephen Sondheim

As I’ve said before, my idea for Beneath began with the scene between Charles and Mélanie at the end of the book. The inspiration was that scene was the concluding scene in Dorothy Sayers’s Busman’s Honeyroom and this concluding song from Stephen Sondheim’s Company. A song that brilliantly and poignantly sums up why people need other people. And also, I think, sums up Charles’s opening up to Mel at the end of the book.

Do you have any pieces of music to add to the Beneath playlist? I’d love to hear some suggestions. Any pieces of music that call to mind other favorite books? Writers, do you come up with playlists for your own books?

I was watching North & South last night (for the umpteenth time), so in honor of it, this week’s addition to the Fraser Correspondence is a letter Simon writes to David while visiting his family in the industrial north.

Lauren Willig has been posting wonderful playlists on her blog for her Pink Carnation books. I always listen to music as I write. I pick one or two composers for each book. But there are also specific songs and other pieces of music, by those composers and others, that resonate with certain scenes and characters. So in the spirit of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, I thought I would follow Lauren’s example.

Here, to begin with, is the playlist for Secrets of a Lady:

Wotan’s Fire Music, Die Walküre, Richard Wagner

Wagner was one of the two composers I focused on for Secrets. Obviously the whole Ring has a lot of parallels to the books–a ring associated with power, tangled family relationships. But Wotan’s Fire Music seems particularly appropriate to Raoul’s role as a manipulator with ambiguous motives.

Beethoven’s 9th

Beethoven was the other composer I focused on in writing Secrets. The 9th was written too late for me to reference it in Secrets, but to me it sums up the belief in humanity, which in different ways is shared by Charles, Mel, and Raoul.

The Riddle, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Frank Wildhorn & Nan Knighton

I saw The Scarlet Pimpernel on Broadway with my friend Penny Williamson while I was writing the book that became Secrets of a Lady. After this trio by Marguerite, Chauvelin, and Percy that closes the first act, Penny turned to me and said “well, that’s definitely your characters.” Not quite the same situation, of course, but this song does make me think of Mel, Raoul, and Charles.

Dove Sono, The Marriage of Figaro, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart & Lorenzo da Ponte

One of the edits I made between Daughter of the Game and Secrets of a Lady was to change the piece of music of which Charles’s thinks he knew “the precise chord that always brought tears to her [Mel’s] eyes” from a the Moonlight Sonata to Dove Sono. I had struggled to find the right piece of music when I was writing the book. I love the Moonlight Sonata and I still associate it with Mel (she plays it in Beneath a Silent Moon, though I now know it wasn’t referred to as the Moonlight Sonata until later). But after Daughter was published I realized Dove Sono, the Countess’s aria asking what happened to the happy days of her marriage, was the perfect piece of music to bring tears to Mel’s eyes.

Let’s Say Goodbye, The Noel Coward Songbook, Ian Bostridge vocal), Jeffrey Tate (piano)

This wistful song about taking a love affair and its end lightly, with lot of unstated emotion that belies the sangfroid of the words, always makes me think of Mélanie and Raoul.

What songs or pieces of music would you add to the Secrets playlist? Writers, do you come up with playlists for your own books? Readers, do you associate certain pieces of music with books you read?

The Fraser Correspondence continues in December 1812, with Mel writing to Raoul just a few days after her marriage to Charles.