What's the Sound of Springtime in Classical Music?
Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 12:00 AM
The arrival of a new season is big news in some pursuits: summer means blockbuster movies for Hollywood. The winter brings a flurry of cold-weather cocktails to bars and hearty soups to restaurants. In autumn, the serious theater and dance seasons usually fire up.
But classical music has often been a relatively season-agnostic pursuit. Fans of the art form are just as likely to consume the same programs of Bach, Brahms or Bartok at Avery Fisher Hall in January as they would at Tanglewood or Ravinia in July. Of course, there is summer pops fare: orchestras like the Boston Pops kick into high gear starting in early May and keeps a heavy schedule through August. Opera companies prefer Parsifal in the spring and Hansel and Gretel in December.
But increasingly such lines are blurred: Winter can bring Broadway show tunes to the Philharmonic while the summer can mean premieres and adventurous fare to amphitheaters from Santa Fe to Verbier. As for spring? It's a short season, for one, given that most New York venues at least wind down by mid-May and June is virtually an off-month.
So are some works are inherently suited to certain times of year? If so, what would spring sound like? For the first day of the Vernal Equinox, WQXR is offering some different expressions of spring. Some composers sought to evoke the stormy aspects of the season (Mahler's First Symphony; Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring) while others captured its spirit of bucolic reawakening (Sibelius's Spring Song, Strauss's Fruhling).
Tell us: What signals spring to you, in music or perhaps in New York? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.