Read Ruth’s essays on music here
Ruth has written, lectured and mentored on music throughout her life. Her 2020 collection Beethoven Variations – Poems on a Life weaves autobiographical fragments of her own music-making into the life and music of Beethoven. Her 2014 T. S. Eliot-shortlisted poetry collection Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth turns on the idea of harmony. It begins by turning an account from an 8th century Arabic treatise, on how to make an oud, into a love poem and creation myth. Its centrepiece is a series of poems on the crucifixion, exploring Christ’s Seven Last Words. It began as poems which she read between movements in a performance of Haydn’s String Quartet Opus 51. She describes working on this here.
I’m A Man: Sex, Gods & Rock ‘n’ Roll (2000) combines her love of opera with rock music and Greek myth. For The London Review of Books. For London Review of Books, she has written essays on women’s voices in opera and a sixteenth-century madrigal. She has taught a ‘Women in Opera’ course in the Modern Greek Department at Princeton University, mentored poets writing words for choral music on a 2012 programme Writing for Voices in Oxford, given pre-performance talks at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and chaired a session Listening to the 20th Century with Alex Ross, music critic of The New Yorker, at Jaipur Literature Festival 2017.
On BBC Radio 4, among her series on artists and writers was a 5-series on Edward Elgar, The Enigma I will Not Explain. On Radio 3, Ruth has presented an episode of The Choir, a radio essay on playing the viola, and a series of interval talks on opera, Close Encounters, in which she sang the soprano examples.