Image of a map holding a tape player

Beckett Confined: Words and Music

Samuel Beckett's radio play "Words and Music", with music composed by Morton Feldman.

About this event

The University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies and the University of Notre Dame in association with Unreal Cities is pleased to present Beckett: Confined, a three-day festival of Samuel Beckett’s plays, associated musical performances and lectures.

In 1961 Samuel Beckett wrote Words and Music for BBC radio, a play featuring the two characters “Words” and “Music” (also referred to as Joe and Bob). The work was withdrawn following the première due to Beckett’s dissatisfaction. 20 years later, Beckett suggested that Morton Feldman should compose the music, resulting in the first complete performance in 1987 (the year of Feldman’s death), produced for the American Beckett Festival of Radio Plays. In Feldman’s words: ‘It was a huge amount of fun to do something for Beckett, a sort of tribute to him, i.e. someone who has been part of my life since the ‘50’s … it was to some extent a labour of love, which I happily undertook.’

Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) was one of the 20th century’s most celebrated playwrights and authors, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. His works examine what it means to be human, in all its absurd, existentialist and sometimes bleak comedy.

For more information about Beckett: Confined, please visit

The Institute of Irish Studies would like to thank Culture Ireland for their support of Beckett Confined.

(Image above: Mike MacSweeny Provision Photography)