Symphony No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 38 "Spring"
Riccardo Muti, Conductor
Available on Arkivmusic.com
When it’s winter, we long for spring. So it makes sense that great music about spring would be written in winter, when we need it most. Maybe spring fever was part of the reason Robert Schumann was able to sketch out his Symphony No.1, the “Spring” Symphony, over just four days in January of 1841. And he did all the orchestration in a three-week space that February.
Something we know inspired Schumann was a poem by German writer Adolph Böttger. How inspiring was this poem? Here are two lines from the last stanza of Böttger’s poem: “O wende, wende deinen Lauf/Im Thale blüht der Frühling auf!" (“O, turn, O turn and change your course/In the valley, Spring blooms forth.") But listen to how those German words and the opening notes of Schumann’s symphony go together. Schumann scored those words, didn’t he?
Schumann gave spring-themed titles to each of the four movements in this symphony: “The Beginning of Spring,” “Evening,” “Merry Playmates” and “Spring in Full Bloom.” He took the titles out before the symphony was published, but the work remains Schumann’s “Spring” Symphony. Here is the first movement, played by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Riccardo Muti.
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- This recording is provided courtesy of Warner Classics/Erato