To greet our favourite season, DiscMuseum has curated a playlist of summer classics. Just as weather inspires happiness, it also inspires great music. Fortunately, many great composers wrote about the delights of summertime. With joyful melodies and unclouded harmonies, this playlist is sure to get you in the mood for the summer ahead. It is also the perfect accompaniment for a summer BBQ or sunbathing in the garden.
To reflect the tempestuous nature of summer in the UK, the playlist begins and ends with a storm! They are almost 300 years apart though… You may recognise the ‘Summer’ concerto from Vivaldi’s famous Four Seasons. In this, its third movement, we hear a thunderous storm depicted through music. We compare this with the piece Cloudburst by Eric Whitacre, written almost 300 years later. Can you hear how the two composers illustrate rainfall in their music? Also listen out for the thunder!
Sandwiched between the storms we have a collection of works that evoke a more serene setting for the warmest month of the year. The cheerful first movement from Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony was written to depict the composer’s feelings as he arrives in the countryside. Beethoven himself was a great lover of nature, frequently escaping Vienna to write in rural locations. Haydn wrote an entire oratorio dedicated to the seasons, and Glazunov scored a ballet from which we present two more portrayals of summer.
‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ Shakespeare inspired three works from our summer playlist. Mendelssohn and Vaughan-Williams both took inspiration from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, while Korngold’s Under the Greenwood Tree takes its text from As You Like It. Did you know? Mendelssohn wrote the Overture to his Shakespeare inspired work when he was just 17. Many consider him the greatest child prodigy since Mozart!
Works from Fauré, Falla, Berlioz, Gershwin and Saint-Saëns complete the set. With two exotic dances, Manuel de Falla takes us to a Spanish garden and Saint-Saëns to Gaza. Fauré’s song Mai is a setting of a Victor Hugo text and finally, how could we not include the great ‘Summertime’ from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess!