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Spring Is Just Around The Corner

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Early winter has been unusually warm in Washington D.C. But now the temperature has finally come down, and it is in the teens and twenties.

Recently, when I stopped to reflect on the idea of this year’s changing season, I thought of Vivaldi’s work of four violin concerti, Le Quattro Stagioni (The Four Seasons). Each concerto represents a season of the year. A braille piano transcription of this popular work is available from the Music Section and on BARD (BRM32347).

Vivaldi’s success at writing music that captures the feel and character of the earth’s seasons is not in itself unique. Other composers have written music that was inspired by fall, winter, spring, and summer. And as the temperature continues to plummet, I believe many of us are wishing it was spring now. So I have compiled a list of a few more works that are found in the music collection that were all written about this coming season. You might think it is too early to be talking about spring, but as NLS Music Reader Services Librarian, Donna Koh, recently pointed out in a guest blog, you should plan ahead for the times you wish to perform certain pieces. Believe it or not, spring is only two months away, March 20th.

Score and listening selections about the spring season:

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, music by Ernest R. Ball
The chorus begins with, “When Irish eyes are smiling, for it’s like a morn in spring…” Take a listen to this Library of Congress National Jukebox recording of tenor vocalist Harry Macdonough from March 10, 1913,

A copy of the music with lyrics is found in the Music Section’s large print collection in Through the Years: Golden Standards, LPM00621, which is an assemblage of American folk and classic songs.

Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring)
, music by Igor Stravinsky
The Rite of Spring’s premiere on 29 May 1913 caused uproar among audience members because it was unlike any ballet of that time. It was cast down by critics and the press. Today, however, it is one of the most significant works of twentieth century orchestral music.

Rite of Spring
Digital scan of front cover, Le Sacre du Printemps score.
Rite of Spring with ntoes
Digital scan of music page from Le Sacre du Printemps score, with choreographic notes by Maria Rambert, Vaslav Nijinsky’s assistant.

Learn more about this piece by listening to the Music Section’s audio book, Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring, DBM03563, written and narrated by Jeremy Siepmann. Siepmann provides commentary to musical examples, and the piece is also played in its entirety.

An audio book biography of Igor Stravinsky is also available from the Music Section, A Sound portrait of Igor Stravinsky, DBM00719, which is an original broadcast from the National Public Radio (NPR) program Question of Place series, part 4, aired on 9 October 1980.

Portrait of Igor Stravinsky.

Lyriske stykker (Lyric Pieces), op. 43, no. 6 (To the Spring) ; op. 38, no. 5 (Spring Dance) ; op. 47, no. 6 (Spring Dance)

Edvard Grieg was a widely known 19th century nationalistic composer who produced many musical works that included Norwegian folk idioms. Lyric Pieces is a collection of 66 short piano pieces, published in 10 different opus numbers between 1867-1901.

The Music Section has the entire collection in one volume in large print, LPM00749, while braille transcriptions of each opus number are available at various call numbers. Op. 38, which is comprised of eight pieces including the no. 5 “Spring Dance” that is referenced here, is available in hardcopy braille only, BRM05522. “To the Spring,” op. 43, no. 6, as a single-work score is available in music braille at BRM07382 and can be downloaded from BARD. Op. 47 includes seven pieces, which are all available in one volume of hardcopy braille, BRM01276.

Take a moment now to listen to this 1909 American recording of “To the Spring,” op. 43, no. 6 arranged for chamber ensemble by Grieg himself,

I hope you can take the time to enjoy the audio clips and prepare for spring. Please leave a comment below if you think of more examples of music for the seasons, and please enjoy the music!

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