Springtime Music

Antonio Vivaldi – The Four Seasons: Spring

Antonio Vivaldi

Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’ is bountiful with optimism and energy. Full of imitations of birdsongs and soft breezes in its introduction, the movement proceeds to Largo, a scene with a shepherd relaxing next to his dog (barking viola!), before ending with a dance of nymphs and shepherds.

Ludwig van Beethoven, Violin Sonata No. 5, Op. 24

Ludwig van Beethoven

Though referred to as his “Spring Sonata,” the name wasn’t applied until after Ludwig’s death in 1827. But it still plays to the season’s lively and playful qualities.

Claude Debussy, Symphonic Suite “Printemps”

Claude Debussy

Once written as a duet, Debussy expanded on this composition to give us a delightful piece that is accompanied with a humming chorus. “Printemps” gives the impression of snow’s thawing and nature blooming before our eyes. Similar to Rochester’s springtime, Debussy completed this work a lot later than expected: he was to submit this work in 1887 as part of a scholarship, but claimed the work was destroyed in a fire. He completed it decades later.

Edvard Grieg, “To Spring”

Edvard Grieg

One of ten “sets” from his Lyric Pieces, part of a voluminous collection of over 50 short piano solos, you can almost imagine dandelions floating about in the wind.

Benjamin Britten, The Succession of the Four Sweet Months

Benjamin Britten

Based on a poem by Robert Herrick, the four months of Spring/Summer are represented by a difference voice. A soprano represents April as it “opens the way for early flowers,” followed by altos as May. Their “rich and sweet array” is followed by tenors (June), who “bring us more gems than the two that went before.” July provides the deep and even richer bass line.

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