Look & Listen Gallery Soundtrack
As you explore the Ackland’s permanent collection galleries, look for objects listed below! Each has been paired with a particular piece of music from roughly the same time and place as the artwork on view. Many pairings also share thematic or aesthetic connections as well.
As you listen, consider ways that composers and artists each use elements of their musical or visual language to convey things like mood or emotion, shape and structure within their work, and even narrative or thematic ideas from outside the world of the piece.
If you enjoy the playlists on this page, click the button below to listen to more art-inspired playlists created by Ackland Student Guides!
Giovanni Battista Naldini, Italian, Florence, ca. 1537-1591, The Presentation in the Temple (detail), 1577, oil on wood panel, 16 7/8 x 11 3/4 in. (42.8 x 29.9 cm). Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The William A. Whitaker Foundation Art Fund, 77.41.1. Conservation treatment for this painting, completed in 1988, was made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum Services, an agency of the Federal Government.
Tomás Luis de Victoria
Spanish, also active in Italy, 1548–1611
Ave Maria for 8 voices, 1572
Performed by The Sixteen; Harry Christophers (Conductor and Founder)
Victoria composed his Ave Maria for eight voices for Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, in 1572. The same event is depicted in Naldini’s painting seen here.
Jacopo Amigoni, Italian, Venice and active throughout Europe, 1682, Venus Disarming Cupid (detail), 1730s or 1740s, oil on canvas, 29 15/16 x 25 1/16 in. (76 x 63.7 cm). Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 86.47.
Polifemo, Act III, Scene 5: Aria “Alto giove,” 1735
Performed by Derek Lee Ragin (countertenor); Christophe Rousset (conductor); Les Talens Lyriques (ensemble)
Amigoni’s painting Venus Disarming Cupid was owned by the famous Italian castrato singer Farinelli. Farinelli made his operatic debut in Nicola Porpora’s melodrama Polifemo, heard here. Subjects from Greek and Roman mythology were popular in both painting and opera of this era.
Osei Bonsu, African, Ghana, Asante, 1900-1977, Ntan Drum (detail), 1930s?, painted wood. Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 2000.6.
“Ntan,” Recorded 1976
Performance by the Ntan Group led by B. K. Amankwa
Recorded in Toase, Ghana by Verna Gillis
This recording of an Ntan group was made for a Smithsonian Folkways record in the mid-1970s by anthropologist Verna Gillis allowing American listeners to hear what a drum like the one on view at the Ackland might have sounded like in a more complete musical ensemble context.
Jasper Francis Cropsey, American, 1823-1900, Landscape with Mountains at Sunset (detail), c. 1850, oil on paper, 5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm). Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 85.19.1.
William Henry Fry
Niagara Symphony, 1854
Like Cropsey’s small landscape of the Hudson River, Fry used music to portray the power and beauty of Niagara Falls through popular techniques in his symphonic art form.
Rose Piper, American, 1917-2005, Slow Down Freight Train (detail) 1946-1947, oil on canvas, 29 1/8 x 23 1/8 in. (74 x 58.7 cm). Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ackland Fund, 91.8.
Florence Beatrice Price
Negro Folksongs in Counterpoint, No. 5, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” 1951?
Rose Piper’s Slow Down Freight Train was part of a series of paintings inspired by African American music, including the blues and spirituals, produced after a summer of study in the American South on a Rosenwald fellowship in 1946 and resulting in a solo exhibition entitled Blues and Negro Folk Songs in 1947. American composer Florence Beatrice Price rose to prominence after the debut of her first symphony in the 1930s. Price’s chamber work for string quartet heard here uses a different African American folks song as the basis for each movement and, like Piper’s cubist painting, embeds each tune in a contemporary compositional language.
This playlist was compiled by Allison Portnow Lathrop, the Ackland’s Public Programs Manager and a trained musicologist. Allison selected the pairings based on the particular context and history of the art and music and what she hears as possible aesthetic similarities between the two works.
Of course, this is just one of many possible ways to link art and music and we’d love to hear how YOU might pair art with music. If you have thoughts, comments, or suggestions for pairings, please share them with us in the form below. The Ackland interpretation team is reviewing audience feedback this summer and your suggestions might make their way into the next official soundtrack!