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Best music for spring – Grieg, Glazunov, Debussy, Schumann, Strauss

A Pavarotti hater concedes

Schumann: “Could you breathe a little of the longing for spring into your orchestra as they play?"
Schumann: “Could you breathe a little of the longing for spring into your orchestra as they play?"
Video:

To Spring by Edvard Grieg

Lyric Pieces, Op. 43: VI. Sviatoslav Richter

Lyric Pieces, Op. 43: VI. Sviatoslav Richter

The last few days of unabated San Diego sunshine have me feeling particularly spring-ish even though we are technically in the dead of winter with spring still a month or so away. However, it did get me thinking. I don’t believe we’ve ever looked at spring-based music here in the column.

Video:

Alexander Glazunov - Spring, Op 34

USSR Symphony Orchestra conducted by Yevgeny Svetlanov

USSR Symphony Orchestra conducted by Yevgeny Svetlanov

With that in mind, let’s look beyond the obvious spring-fare such as Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons: “La Primavera” and Stravinsky’s decidedly brutal depiction of rivers exploding out of their icy slumber in The Rite of Spring. Stravinsky includes human sacrifice as a tradition of spring. Ah, the good ol’ days when no virgin was safe from ritualistic murder.

Video:

Debussy, Printemps

Suite Symphonique. Pierre Boulez

Suite Symphonique. Pierre Boulez

There are, indeed, several pieces of classical music that bear the word “spring” in their title. One such piece is Edvard Grieg’s “To Spring” from his Lyric Pieces which are composed for piano. Lyric Pieces is a collection of 66 short compositions that Grieg composed between 1867 and 1901. Besides “To Spring” there are two pieces entitled “Spring Dance”. Both are just over one minute long.

Video:

R, Schumann-Symphony No. 1 In B Flat Op. 38 "Spring"Major

Leonard Bernstein-Orq. Filarm. de Viena

Leonard Bernstein-Orq. Filarm. de Viena

Another composition with “spring” in the title is Spring by Alexander Glazunov. Glazunov is best known for his ballet entitled Seasons. There is a spring section in the ballet but this stand-alone piece from 1891 is so fresh and beautiful that it deserves to be listened to not a few times over the course of the next few weeks.

Video:

Voices of Spring Waltz

Johann Strauss II

Johann Strauss II

Claude Debussy took a human approach to spring in his symphonic suite entitled Spring. According to the archives of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Debussy wrote the piece while in Rome. In a letter, he said that he didn’t want to write a description of spring the season but a human spring or rebirth.

Video:

Oh Mimi tu piu non Torni – 1983

Maestro Luciano Pavarotti

Maestro Luciano Pavarotti

Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 1: Spring is so-called because of a letter he wrote to conductor Wilhelm Taubert. In the letter, Schumann asks, “Could you breathe a little of the longing for spring into your orchestra as they play? That was what was most in my mind when I wrote [the symphony] in January 1841.”

Johann Strauss II composed Voices of Spring as an indication of the spring breeze that flows through Vienna off of the Danube. Trust me, you’ve heard this one before.

The last piece of spring music comes from the Act IV duet “Oh Mimi tu piu non Torni” in Puccini’s La Boheme. At the conclusion of Act III, Rodolfo and Mimi pledge to stay together until spring because no one is ever lonely in spring. Well, it’s spring, and Rodolfo is feeling so very, very lonely. He commiserates with Marcello, who is missing Musetta, his so-called "hellcat".

I’m on the record as a Pavarotti “hater” but no one sings this music better than Pav.

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Schumann: “Could you breathe a little of the longing for spring into your orchestra as they play?"
Schumann: “Could you breathe a little of the longing for spring into your orchestra as they play?"
Video:

To Spring by Edvard Grieg

Lyric Pieces, Op. 43: VI. Sviatoslav Richter

Lyric Pieces, Op. 43: VI. Sviatoslav Richter

The last few days of unabated San Diego sunshine have me feeling particularly spring-ish even though we are technically in the dead of winter with spring still a month or so away. However, it did get me thinking. I don’t believe we’ve ever looked at spring-based music here in the column.

Video:

Alexander Glazunov - Spring, Op 34

USSR Symphony Orchestra conducted by Yevgeny Svetlanov

USSR Symphony Orchestra conducted by Yevgeny Svetlanov

With that in mind, let’s look beyond the obvious spring-fare such as Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons: “La Primavera” and Stravinsky’s decidedly brutal depiction of rivers exploding out of their icy slumber in The Rite of Spring. Stravinsky includes human sacrifice as a tradition of spring. Ah, the good ol’ days when no virgin was safe from ritualistic murder.

Video:

Debussy, Printemps

Suite Symphonique. Pierre Boulez

Suite Symphonique. Pierre Boulez

There are, indeed, several pieces of classical music that bear the word “spring” in their title. One such piece is Edvard Grieg’s “To Spring” from his Lyric Pieces which are composed for piano. Lyric Pieces is a collection of 66 short compositions that Grieg composed between 1867 and 1901. Besides “To Spring” there are two pieces entitled “Spring Dance”. Both are just over one minute long.

Video:

R, Schumann-Symphony No. 1 In B Flat Op. 38 "Spring"Major

Leonard Bernstein-Orq. Filarm. de Viena

Leonard Bernstein-Orq. Filarm. de Viena

Another composition with “spring” in the title is Spring by Alexander Glazunov. Glazunov is best known for his ballet entitled Seasons. There is a spring section in the ballet but this stand-alone piece from 1891 is so fresh and beautiful that it deserves to be listened to not a few times over the course of the next few weeks.

Video:

Voices of Spring Waltz

Johann Strauss II

Johann Strauss II

Claude Debussy took a human approach to spring in his symphonic suite entitled Spring. According to the archives of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Debussy wrote the piece while in Rome. In a letter, he said that he didn’t want to write a description of spring the season but a human spring or rebirth.

Video:

Oh Mimi tu piu non Torni – 1983

Maestro Luciano Pavarotti

Maestro Luciano Pavarotti

Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 1: Spring is so-called because of a letter he wrote to conductor Wilhelm Taubert. In the letter, Schumann asks, “Could you breathe a little of the longing for spring into your orchestra as they play? That was what was most in my mind when I wrote [the symphony] in January 1841.”

Johann Strauss II composed Voices of Spring as an indication of the spring breeze that flows through Vienna off of the Danube. Trust me, you’ve heard this one before.

The last piece of spring music comes from the Act IV duet “Oh Mimi tu piu non Torni” in Puccini’s La Boheme. At the conclusion of Act III, Rodolfo and Mimi pledge to stay together until spring because no one is ever lonely in spring. Well, it’s spring, and Rodolfo is feeling so very, very lonely. He commiserates with Marcello, who is missing Musetta, his so-called "hellcat".

I’m on the record as a Pavarotti “hater” but no one sings this music better than Pav.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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