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

Ahhh, August……. the last hurrah of summer! For me, it’s a month filled with birthdays, family outings, and the beach. Below are my five selections which, I believe, perfectly fit in to an end-of-summer soundtrack! Kick back and soak it in folks…

1) “Csárdás,” by Vittorio Monti

I took quite a liking to this one-hit wonder from Monti, especially the flavor of Hungarian gypsy influence. It starts off on the slower side, but boy, does it pick up speed! In fact, it reminds me of the wild violin pieces found in Fiddler on the Roof. No relaxing with this song folks, so be prepared for some zing!

2) “Clarinet Sonata in E flat major, op. 167, 1: Allegretto,” by Camille Saint-Saëns

I found this piece so charming and unassuming! It’s not very often I’ve heard the clarinet get center stage. While I can imagine visiting a farmer’s market to a soundtrack like this, it also seems to encapsulate all the whimsy and wistfulness of the end of summer vacation……..sigh.

3) “Alt Wien,” by Leopold Godowsky, arr. by Jascha Heifetz

The author certainly has a point when she describes this piece as one that transports the listener. While summer is not officially over as of yet, visions of the Swiss Alps and Viennese ballrooms seem to beckon so realistically. Trip to Austria anyone? Sign me up!

4) “Beau soir–Beautiful Evening,” by Claude Debussy

Such a short piece, but so very tranquil…. It calls to mind all the beautiful evenings that summer has to offer: fireflies glowing in the twilight of a forest, moonlight on the ocean, or just about any rose-gold sunset. the song closes as if washed away by the tide and the strains of the violin…

5) “Somewhere,” from West Side Story, by Leonard Bernstein

Another classic of American music and cinema. While there are other numbers from West Side Story that I prefer, this declaration of love and longing has held such sway and power over its listeners, I would be loath not to include it. While it’s a romantic song for the ages, I think it’s sentiments are applicable to anyone who has suffered tragedy or persecution. Or maybe just take a listen if you’re afflicted with post-vacation blues. We’ll find summer again, somewhere…

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