On February 2, Staten Island Chuck did not see his shadow, predicting to hopeful New Yorkers that Spring was just around the corner. Stepping outside since then, it’s hard to believe Chuck’s forecast. The cold snowy weather with no immediate relief in sight has us dreaming of spring and summer months. Here are our top 5 compositions to help create the illusion of warmer weather.
1. Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 1, nicknamed The Spring, (Schumann sketched out the four movements as Spring's Awakening, Evening, Merry Playmates, and Spring at its Peak) was inspired by his marriage to Clara Wieck. It is instilled with the optimism of new love and the new season.
2. Samuel Barber’s 15-minute Knoxville Summer of 1915 combines with James Agee’s prose to describe a lazy summer evening on the porch two years before America’s entry World War I violently interrupted those calm nights.
3. Gustav Mahler, who often outlined his works with descriptive titles to his symphonies, initially called the first movement of his Symphony No. 3 “Summer marches in” then went on to describe the earth and heavens.
4. Benjamin Britten segues from an icy winter into a verdant spring in his aptly titled Spring Symphony. Soloists vocalize bird calls in this 45-minute, 12-part song cycle, while text such as “When will my May come” and “Sumer is icumen” promise more temperate weather.
5. Les nuits d’été, a seven-song cycle of summer nights by Hector Berlioz, owes more to love and heartbreak than summer, but it brings dreams of summer images like picking strawberries in the woods and warm breezes along a seashore.