The Infernal Serpent: Music, Art and Literary References.


Hello Mateys and welcome to the 12th in my series of posts on the music, art and literary references in the original Morse episodes.

To read my review of this episode click here. I have of course added the information here to the review which was written some two years ago.

Once I have finished with each series I will post a downloadable excel sheet for each category; music, art and literary references. This would allow everyone who downloads said excel sheets to print them off for personal use. Hopefully, having these print outs next to you while you watch the episode will be of help in identifying your favourite pieces of music from all three series. In the same vein the downloadable excel sheets will I hope help in your enjoyment and appreciation of the art and literary references used in all three series.

Of course I am not infallible (I know I was shocked to realise that trait in myself😉 ) so if you should spot an error or omission then please let me know and I will update my post with the new information.

The time of the pieces of music et cetera are based on the British DVD versions of the shows. However, the times shown should not be to dissimilar from other countries versions or should be easy to pinpoint what I am referring to and when.

The Infernal Serpent: Series 4, Episode 1.

Chronologically this is episode 12.


The piece of music at the beginning is I believe Piano Sonata No. 25 by Beethoven (1770 – 1827) or at least the middle section of the piece. I am not completely certain.


The music is being played as Sylvia arrives to find Mrs Copley Barnes giving a lesson to one of her pupils. The piece is by Mozart and is called Piano Sonato in A, K.331:1 Andante Grazioso.


This piece is being sung by the college Choir and being conducted by a friend of Morse. It is by Byrd. The piece is called Miserere mei, Deus.

The next musical piece is played during the break in and arson attack on Mick McGovern’s house. It is by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) and the piece is called Prelude and Fugue in C Minor BWV 546. BWV relates to  Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis  which is the best known and most widely used catalogue of Bach’s compositions.

Up next is being played by Imogen and Sylvia. It is by Georges Bizet (1838 – 1875), and is called La Poupée (The doll) N°3 from Jeux d’enfants op.22. 


Morse is talking to Sylvia who then plays the piano remarking that the piece was exercise for the fingering. It is by Mozart and is Sonata No. 11 in A Major for Piano, K331:1 Tema Andante Grazioso

The piece is played again at 01h26m59s in Morse’s house.


The music playing when Mrs Copley Barnes decides to kill herself is By Jehan Alain and is called Le Jardin Suspendu. Thanks to A.B. one of my blog readers for telling me about this piece of music.

If you enjoy all the music from the Morse series I have collected all the pieces I have identified thus far and have created playlists on YouTube. On how to access these playlists please read the relevant post by clicking here.

Or click here to my Youtube channel where you will find the music of Morse and Endeavour contained in playlists.

Literary References


The Master Copley Barnes remarks that  Dr. Julian Dear’s attacker had “wild eyes”. The Master goes on to say that it reminded him of a young Wittgenstein, if that meant anything to Morse or Lewis. Morse replies by asking if the Master was referring to Wittgenstein before or after his Norwegian period.

Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (1889 – 1951) was an Austrian-British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. From 1929 to 1947, Wittgenstein taught at the University of Cambridge.

Wittgenstein came to feel that he could not get to the heart of his most fundamental questions while surrounded by other academics, and so in 1913 he retreated to the village of Skjolden in Norway, where he rented the second floor of a house for the winter. He later saw this as one of the most productive periods of his life, writing Logik (Notes on Logic), the predecessor of much of the Tractatus.


While visiting Imogen’s stables Sylvia talks to her husband Ron. Sylvia mentions that she used to be called ‘commendable Sylvia’. This is a reference to a song in Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Song: “Who is Silvia? what is she” 
(from Two Gentlemen of Verona)
Who is Silvia? what is she,
That all our swains commend her?
Holy, fair, and wise is she;
The heaven such grace did lend her,
That she might admirèd be.

Is she kind as she is fair?
For beauty lives with kindness.
Love doth to her eyes repair,
To help him of his blindness;
And, being helped, inhabits there.

Then to Silvia let us sing,
That Silvia is excelling;
She excels each mortal thing
Upon the dull earth dwelling;
To her let us garlands bring.


At the end of the episode, Morse quotes from Milton’s Paradise Lost;

“Th’ infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile

Stird up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv’d

The Mother of Mankind”


At seven and seven seconds we see a painting behind Morse as he is about to leave the Master’s lodgings.


The painting is by John Turnbull and is called The Declaration of Independence. The original is in Washington DC.

There was very little art to be seen in this episode and those that were seen briefly I couldn’t identify.

Well that is all for this post. I hope you enjoyed it and hopefully it will help with your enjoyment of the episode. The next episode to be looked at via its music, art and literary references will be The Sins of the Father. 

Author: Chris Sullivan

After having looked after my mum for some 11 years she is now unfortunately in a nursing home. I'm afraid her dementia worsened as did her physical capabilities. UPDATE: My mum died from Covid-19 on the 6th May 2020. So, for the first time in 21 years I find myself no longer caring for anyone. Apart from my mum I was also a single parent to two children and also looked after my dad who had Alzheimers, (he died in 2005). So, I have decided to return to University to try and get another degree this time in English Literature. (My other degree I got some 30 years ago is one in Ecological Science). After a year at college I have passed all grades and now will start Edinburgh University in September 2019. I am now in second year having passed all the requirements in first year.

6 thoughts

  1. Hello Chris,

    The Beethoven movement is the opening of the Andante (i.e., the sonata’s middle section, as you’ve correctly pointed out).

    The “Miserere” is the one composed by Byrd, not Allegri: Jake Normington mentions the composer by name before the rehearsal after he has asked the students to open the windows at 10:05.

    The choral piece sung in the chapel is “Justorum animae” by Orlande de Lassus. The organ piece which precedes it is “Le jardin suspendu” by Jehan Alain (it’s heard when Sylvia answers Morse’s question “Where’s Mrs Copley-Barnes?” at 1:34:40).


  2. What a fabulous website you have. Absolutely love it! And Pheloung’s music we must not forget either. Unfortunately here in Australia they are in such a hurry to get to the next program we rarely hear it. Thank you for your great work. regards, Sidsel

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