Cuckoo!

March 31, 2016 at 10:30 am

Frederick Delius was born in England, and is considered an English composer, though he spent most of his life elsewhere. In his young adult years, he was forced to move to Florida to work in the orange business, but his heart wasn’t in it. He moved to (where else?) Leipzig to study, where he befriended the Norwegian composers we listened to this week: Edvard Grieg and Christian Sinding. He later moved to Paris, and remained on the continent for the rest of his life, only moving back to England during World War I.

The English are known for their love of nature, and this pastorale tone poem by Delius particularly smacks of Vaughan Williams‘ nature-inspired works. Delius writes musical bird calls (it’s fairly easy to recognize the call of the cuckoo), and also quotes a Norwegian folk melody as a way of “tipping his hat” to his Scandinavian friends.

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Frühlingsrauschen

March 30, 2016 at 10:30 am

Those Norwegians know their Spring! This virtuosic piece by Norwegian composer Christian Sinding is a favorite “show-off” piece among pianists.

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Bittersweet symphony

March 29, 2016 at 11:00 am

Staying on the theme of Spring (we’ll be here for a while) …

I don’t need to tell you that Spring is more than just a change of season – it’s a rebirth after death, warmth after cold, light after darkness.

It can also be so much more complex than that. Edvard Grieg‘s work, “Last Spring”, was inspired by the poetry of Aasmund Olavsson Vinje. The title sounds like the work will be a nostalgic daydream … however, the word “last” in this case refers not to the previous year, but the sense that this will be the poet’s final spring on earth. Bittersweet indeed.

Like many of Grieg’s most famous works, it was originally written for piano, and later arranged it for orchestra (in this case, just strings) by the composer.

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