It’s open topic on the blog carousel for me this time, and the subject is cold. Snow. Winter. Freezing. We’re in the midst of multiple winter events, and normally I appreciate the turn of the seasons here in Washington D.C. But in this confining era, winter this year seems especially unwelcome, at least to me. I have noted some progress though, in that we no longer have pitch-black nights beginning at 5:00 p.m. these days, and I welcome more light. But let’s “spin” this unavoidable fact of the planet and think of some positive results that are born of cold, snow and winter.
One positive result is composers have used seasons to create some wonderful music. A favorite of many, The Four Seasons by Vivaldi is popular year-round, but…did you know there was a sonnet written to accompany the music? Listed below is a verse of the text set for the second movement of Winter, a favorite featuring pizzicato accompaniment to a solo violin.
To spend the quiet and happy days by the fire
Whilst outside the rain soaks everyone.
To walk on the ice with slow steps
And go carefully for fear of falling.
A transcription for piano solo of The Four Seasons in bar-over-bar format is available at BRM35873 with the sonnets included in Italian and English translations. A solo violin part of Winter from The Four Seasons is available at BRM32663.
Franz Schubert presented Die Winterreise in song cycle format. I have enjoyed listening to the complete cycle while following the text during a winter storm. Schubert’s songs always make their mark, and his storytelling in the song cycle format is especially rewarding. We have a copy of Die Winterreise at BRM35120 and one of the songs, “Die Nebensonnen” (The Mock Suns), number 23 from the cycle at BRM01556. We also have a BBC guide to the period of Die Winterreise available in contracted braille at BRM30896.
And, as we can’t fight Mother Nature, it’s not a bad idea just to “Let It Snow” by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn. Associated with the holiday season, it perfectly describes the winter and a direction for how to handle it. You can find a vocal and piano arrangement at BRM23349.
Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
Other winter themed works include a choral arrangement of “There Was A Rosebud Bloomed In Snow” (BRM04398) by Martin Shaw paints a portrait of hope and beauty. We also have “Snow Fairies” by Cecil Forsyth (BRM04331) for voice and piano, “Over the Snow” by Frank Lynes for piano in bar-over-bar format (BRM10865) and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Snow Maiden” (BRM05544), for piano in bar-by-bar format. And a popular choral selection for the holiday season and very descriptive is “In the Bleak Mid-winter” by Gustav Holst, set to a text by Christina Rosetti and available in 100 Carols for Choirs, (BRM29710, soprano, BRM29794 alto, BRM29999, tenor, BRM30000, bass.) More winter subjects are found in ‘The Snow is Dancing’ from ‘Children’s Corner’ by Claude Debussy (BRM35849), ‘The Snow’ for SSA, piano and two violins (BRM36424), ‘Winter Music‘ by John Cage (BRM29848) ‘Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind‘ by Jean Beghon, mixed chorus with piano accompaniment, (BRM04403), and ‘Winter Wonderland‘ piano solo by Dick Smith (BRM19932).
So there can be multiple reactions to winter, snow, and cold biting winds. You can despair, you can snuggle, you can laugh, you can be sad. But you can get through it. My tools of choice are hot chocolate, a warm soft sweater, and calm lovely music.
To borrow any of these titles, you may either download them from BARD or request a hard copy through the mail. Please contact the NLS Music Section to borrow hard copies of braille music, talking books on digital cartridge, or large-print music. Call us at 1-800-424-8567, or e-mail us at [email protected] for assistance.