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It’s time for another installment of Five Great Pieces, a series intended to help you loop in easy music appreciation lessons to what you may already be talking about. Music Appreciation can be an easy addition to your school day! Last time we talked about the holiday of love…today we are diving into the vast archive of spring-related classical music.
Spring from The Four Seasons // Antonio Vivaldi
You can’t talk about Springtime classical music without beginning in the most obvious place: Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. His version of Spring evokes birds singing festive songs, murmuring streams softly caressed by breezes, and thunderstorms casting their dark mantle over heaven. Really, it does. He said so in the sonnets he wrote that inspired the music in the first place. (You didn’t think I wrote all that, did you?). Chirping birds and murmuring steams, coming right up:
On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring // Frederick Delius
Quirky little title, right? The piece is considered a “tone poem,” meaning poetry through music, basically. Various instruments play the role of the cuckoo — can you hear him calling?
Flower Duet // Léo Delibes
Léo Delibes is not the most famous of composers now, but he was highly regarded in his time. Check out this quote from Tchaikovsky:
“… what charm, what wealth of melody! It brought me to shame, for had I known of this music, I would have never written Swan Lake.”
Flower Duet is from Delibes’ opera Lakmé, and the piece takes place when Lakmé (the main character) and her servant girl go down to the river to pick flowers. Pick some spring flowers yourself and enjoy this piece!
Thunder and Lightening Polka // Johann Strauss
The last two selections were a little on the light side, so let’s ramp things up a bit. Given how common spring storms can be, the Thunder and Lightning Polka is perfect for this list. It replicates the sound of thunder and lighting with clever use of drums and cymbals. And, FYI, if I ever become a conductor, I’m totally working his moves at the 1:15 mark. #windshieldwiper
Appalachian Spring // Aaron Copland
Copland took the Appalachian melody Simple Gifts and incorporated it into portion of the music for Martha Graham’s ballet Appalachian Spring. But, believe it or not, Copland wrote the entire piece without any thoughts of springtime OR Appalachia. In his mind, he was working his “Ballet for Martha” – that’s literally what he called it. Martha lifted the title Appalachian Spring from a poem — after Copland had completed the music. True story! Despite all that, it still feels perfect for springtime 🙂
Enjoy these great Springtime pieces!