Music at Night (play)

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Music at Night is a play by J. B. Priestley. Although written in 1938 for the Malvern Drama Festival, and performed there on 2 August, the outbreak of World War II meant that its performance in London at the Westminster Theatre was delayed until 10 October 1939; it was the first play to be performed in London after restrictions were lifted. It was published in 1944.

Plot introduction[edit]

An assortment of middle- and upper-class people come to the house of the widowed Mrs Amesbury to hear a new violin concerto by David Shiel. As the music plays their minds wander, and their reveries are theatrically performed. Each act of the play corresponds with a movement of the concerto: Allegro capriccioso, Lento, and Allegro — agitato — maestoso nobile.


  • David Shiel, a composer
  • Nicholas Lengel, first violin, a refugee
  • Mrs Amesbury, a wealthy sponsor
  • Katherine Shiel, David's wife
  • Peter Horlett, a Communist poet
  • Ann Winter, a childhood friend and fan of Peter
  • Philip Chilham, a columnist for the Daily Gazette
  • Lady Sybil Linchester, a tactless wit from a rich family
  • Sir James Dirnie, her husband, an aspiring patron of the arts
  • Charles Bendrex, a Cabinet minister
  • Parks, an elderly manservant
  • Rupert Amesbury, a pilot, the deceased son of Mrs Amesbury
  • Mrs Chilham, Philip's mother
  • Tom, a former coworker whom Sir James betrayed
  • Deborah, Sybil's elder sister
  • Dr Ebenthal, David's former teacher in Vienna