This is the third in a series of posts I call Five Great Pieces. Seasons and holidays can be a great gateway to music appreciation. Add some beauty to your home with a piece or two from this list!
Winter, from The Four Seasons // Vivaldi
The Four Seasons is a set of concertos. When I teach my students about a concerto, I describe it like this: one instrument gets to be the star and the other instruments are the helpers. The actual definition is slightly more nuanced, but that is pretty much it. The Four Seasons happen to be violin concertos, which instantly tells you which instrument is the star.
Concertos typically have “movements” which is fancy for saying they have different parts. In The Four Seasons, each “season” has three movements. The 1st and 3rd movements are fast, and the 2nd movement is slow.
Winter is my favorite of the four. And of the three Winter movements, I love the second. Vivaldi uses strings recreates the sound of dripping water on the roof. (It starts at 3:30 in the video linked below.) It will make you think of being cozy inside on a dreary winter day. Recreate the scene for your kids with some hot cocoa and snuggly blankets!
Winterlust Polka // Strauss
Josef is the least famous of the super musical Strauss family. The dad was Johann I and brother was Johann II. They were both more successful (and more well remembered), but Josef was no slouch.
Back in Josef’s day, competing hosts went to extreme measures to create the most grand, most elaborate parties for their wealthy friends. The story goes that Strauss’ patron installed an ice-rink in his ballroom to host a winter festival carnival that would out-do everyone. Strauss composed the Winterlust Polka for the party, and it was a hit.
Put your dancing shoes on and polka like it’s 1862!
Waltz of the Snowflakes // Tchaikovsky
This piece gets lost in light of more famous offerings from The Nutcracker, like Waltz of the Flowers and the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy. This one is super wintery and perfect for cozy inside play.
The Snow is Dancing // Debussy
This piece is a part of a children’s collection written for Debussy’s three-year-old daughter. Kid’s music has certainly changed over the years!
Sinfonia Antarctica // Vaughan Williams
The Antarctic Symphony was originally composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams as a soundtrack for the 1947 film Scott of the Antarctic. The movie tells the story of Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated Terra Nova expedition when he attempted to be the first person to reach the South Pole. (The descriptor “ill-fated” might give you a hint as to how that turned out).
Ralph Vaughan Williams was super inspired by the subject matter. He loved what he wrote so much he expanded the music into a full symphony. It is epic in scope and fittingly dramatic. Listen for how the voices sound like howling wind!
I hope you enjoy these super wintery pieces!