Program Music- Tell Me A Story

Stay-At-Home Musical Suggestions #21 From the Southwest Florida Symphony

Bringing us stories and sights through their lovely sounds

Most music is written to be listened to, but program music is composed specifically to evoke a certain idea, atmosphere, place, or story, and these masters capture their subjects perfectly!

Click on the link to enjoy:

  • Beethoven Symphony No. 6Pastoral, Mvt. 4 & 5
    A lover of nature and long countryside walks in rural areas outside of Vienna, Beethoven worked birdsong, babbling brooks, and a fierce thunderstorm into this masterpiece. This version lets you follow along with beautiful imagery depicting the storm, and the cheerful and grateful shepherd’s song following. Have you ever heard a rainbow? Watch until the end!
  • Dukas- The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
    If you have ever seen Disney’s Fantasia, you already know this centuries-old tale of caution about reaching for more than you can handle. Dukas composed this based on the poet Goethe’s poem of the same name and subject. Here, the classic Mickey Mouse clip epitomizes the mischief and mayhem which ensues from such naughtiness!
  • Berlioz- Symphonie FantastiqueMvt. 4, March To The Scaffold
    After falling for an actress (and eventual wife) Harriet Smithson, Berlioz despaired from unrequited love and used his inspiration, imagination(and perhaps opium) to compose this dream piece which included the murder of a beloved and the subsequent death sentence of the agonizing artist. It worked! He wooed her with his genius. The marriage did not last, but thankfully, the music did. This art-filled version illustrates that not all dreams end happily, and might not be for all eyes. Listen for the head roll!
  • Rimski Korsakov- Scheherazade
    Based on another centuries-old tale, Arabian Nights, about fidelity and the Sultana’s cleverness in telling rapt stories to prolong her life. Here it is brought to life through the ballet, with gorgeous dancing (PSA: some sensuality), costumes, and sets. Listen for the recurring melody representingScheherazade in the plaintive violin solo. Above Art: Jenimel
  • Mussorgsky- Pictures At An Exhibition
    After the sudden loss of friend and artist Viktor Hartmann, the St. Petersburg community organized an exhibition of his paintings, and as a remembrance, Mussorgsky wrote this musical illustration of ten of the works, plus the recurring ‘Promenade’ strolling among them. Originally composed for piano, French composer Maurice Ravel arranged it for full orchestra in 1922. Seeing the Hartmann pictures here makes up for the interruptions.
  • Copland- Billy The Kid
    Copland cleverly utilizes folk songs and cowboy tunes and his own style to evoke the American Wild West, following the life of the infamous outlaw. You can hear the open prairie as pioneers trek west, a frontier town, and even a solo trumpetMexican dance. Here, the old sepia and black and white photos illustrate the evocative music perfectly. Listen for the gunfight- thanks percussion!
  • Holst- The Planets
    Seven planets- no Earth or Pluto (then undiscovered, now decommissioned)-and their attending impressions and influences on the psyche are masterfully put to music. A writer friend introduced Holst to astrology and suggested it as a theme, and the composer avidly embraced the subject and enjoyed telling his friends’ horoscopes for fun. Listen for Holst’s favorite movement, Saturn, while enjoying these beautiful photos of each orb.

Take the time to enjoy these great reminders of all we love and miss hearing, until we can meet again safely at Southwest Florida Symphony live concerts!
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