A “Year of Wonder”-Ful Classical Music: April

Voila! The April edition of Year of Wonder is here! This month was a whirlwind of activity, what with Easter and all, and so was the music. So many wildly different selections! But here are my top five:

1) “Violin Sonata no. 5 in F Major, op. 24 (‘Spring’) 1: Allegro” by Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven is one of my top three favorite composers! My obsession with his music is almost on a level with Schroeder from the Peanuts Gang. Another “Classical Composers” CD that I adored was the one entitled Beethoven Lives Upstairs. I’ve listened to it more times than I can count, and it never fails to relax me. This piece of his music, among many others, is featured in the story. Plus, this is one of his happier pieces. Beethoven wasn’t stormy and brooding ALL the time.

2) “‘Walking the dog’ from Shall We Dance?” by George Gershwin

Ok, so after Beethoven, I can never really decide which composers take second and third place. But Gershwin is heavy competition. I love jazz, and Gershwin delivers that in spades. It’s also another feather in his cap that much of his music is featured in classic films, An American in Paris and Shall We Dance? being among them. I, a, loyal fan of old movies, love it when my passion for music and film blend before my eyes (and ears). And this song is just so cute! Aside from walking a dog, this piece is almost Chaplinesque…. Can’t you just picture a mime doing his thing?

3) Le Printemps–Spring, op. 18″ by Darius Milhaud

The violin in this one is stunning. It inspired imagery of a large hilltop, strong spring breezes, and clouds scudding across an azure sky. How much more “spring” can you get? It surprised me because it re-created that feeling so vividly, and I have a deep appreciation for music that can bring about that effect. Listen to this, and then go outside and absorb some nature!

4) “Concerto no. 7 in F Major for three pianos 1: Allegro” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

There’s just something so classic about Mozart. I never find his music boring. Not all classical music, in my opinion, is very interesting. I like having clearly defined melodies to listen to, or at least a song that will circle back to the original melody after an artistic interlude. Mozart never disappoints in this department. And let’s be honest. The guy was an absolute genius.

5) “Overture from Tannhauser by Richard Wagner

Wagner was a fantastically imaginative composer, and he peopled this opera with all sorts of mythical creatures. However, many strains of music in this overture show up repeatedly in the classic Bugs Bunny cartoon, “What’s Opera Doc?” Mentioning a Saturday morning cartoon and classical music in the same breath is probably a travesty in the eyes of the arts, but this Bugs and Elmer Fudd adventure is seriously the best. It pokes fun at opera in the best possible way. Here’s the link. Go watch it. Go watch it right now!

Bonus Song!

“Valse lente–slow waltz” by Germaine Tailleferre

Ok, so I couldn’t resist squeezing this one in….. It’s so romantic. Think slow dancing in a hole-in-the-wall French cafe. Or maybe strolling along the Seine……

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