Christina Rossetti In Music

Christina Rossetti in Music Project

Ruth Gipps's "Goblin Market" (1954)

English composer Ruth Gipps's 1954 cantata setting Goblin Market is a truly significant turning point in the history of musical interpretation of Rossetti's poem. She is the first female composer to write a setting of this complex poem; furthermore, Gipps’s score and adapted libretto convey significant and innovative perspectives on “Goblin Market” that arguably make her composition a prescient innovation in the critical history of this poem. Specifically, Gipps's decidedly female musical perspective on Rossetti's poem breaks new interpretative ground that anticipates the feminist literary interpretations of Rossetti's work that really only began their strong emergence in literary critical history in the 1970s. Musical interpretation in this case is a very significant act of literary interpretation, even if it did not reach a wide enough audience to be credited with initiating the feminist literary recuperation of Christina Rossetti that occurred later in the 20th century.


Mary Arseneau, Department of English, University of Ottawa