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Feline groovy: cats in classical music – 10 of the best

From a medieval monk’s tribute to Henze’s cat-opera and Ravel’s erotic yowling, music celebrates the feline like no other animal. Here are 10 of the best, with not even a whisker of a certain musical…

Is there a choral singer anywhere who doesn’t know Christopher Smart’s cat, Jeoffry? Smart’s feline companion is the subject of 74 enchanting lines of his visionary poem Jubilate Agno (1759-63), set to music by Benjamin Britten in his cantata Rejoice in the Lamb. Smart’s poem was written in an asylum where he had been incarcerated – for mania – with only Jeoffry for company.

This real-life feline is the subject of my book, Jeoffry: The Poet’s Cat, in which I wanted to capture how a cat could be both solace and muse to the creative artist.

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