Music Inspired by Water Part 2

Okay guys, here’s the second installment of the series Music Inspired by Water. Check out part one here! Last time we talked about orchestral music, so today’s playlist is piano works inspired by water.

First up: Jeux d’eau (“Playing Water”) by Ravel (1875-1937).

The composer himself said of this piano work:

Jeux d’eau, appearing in 1901, is at the origin of the pianistic novelties which one would notice in my work. This piece, inspired by the noise of water and by the musical sounds which make one hear the sprays water, the cascades, and the brooks, is based on two motives in the manner of the movement of a sonata—without, however, subjecting itself to the classical tonal plan.

And Ravel included this quotation inside the original manuscript: “Dieu fluvial riant de l’eau qui le chatouille…” which translates to: “River god laughing as the water tickles him …”.

Next is Debussy‘s Reflects dans l’eau (“Reflections in the water”). It’s the first movement of his Image, Book 1:

This work is incredibly descriptive with its shimmery arpeggios and lighthearted motifs. You can almost see the light reflecting off of the water as motion increases.

Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-1888), who was good friends with Chopin and a wonderful pianist and composer himself, wrote a piece called Song of the Mad Woman on the Seashore (from his Preludes op. 31). Skip ahead to 4:00 in the video below:

The piece opens with a rumbling bass ostinato, and the work tells the dark story of the composer slipping into depression. The extreme range between the two voices describes the expanse of the ocean – as well as a feeling of detachment and loss.

Jeux d'eau by Ravel
Jeux d’eau by Ravel

These are just a few of my favorites! What music inspired by water should be added to the list?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Musicophile says:

    How about Liszt’s Au Lac de Walenstadt from the Pelerinages?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, such a beautiful work! Yes, that piece will definitely have to go on the next list.


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