It’s officially autumn! Time to bust out sweaters and boots and pumpkin spice everything. And while you’re at it, take a moment to listen to some of these classical works inspired by the new season.
Antonio Vivaldi‘s Concerto no. 3 in F major, L’autunno
(“Autumn” from The Four Seasons)
Written around 1721, The Four Seasons is a hugely popular Baroque work. Read more about it here. “Autumn” is made up of three movements, each of which corresponds to a portion of a sonnet (a 14-line rhyming poem):
Celebrates the peasant, with songs and dances,
The pleasure of a bountiful harvest.
And fired up by Bacchus’ liquor,
many end their revelry in sleep.
Everyone is made to forget their cares and to sing and dance
By the air which is tempered with pleasure
And (by) the season that invites so many, many
Out of their sweetest slumber to fine enjoyment
The hunters emerge at the new dawn,
And with horns and dogs and guns depart upon their hunting
The beast flees and they follow its trail;
Terrified and tired of the great noise
Of guns and dogs, the beast, wounded, threatens
Languidly to flee, but harried, dies.
Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: September: At the River
Pianist composer Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805-1847) wrote a piano cycle (a multi-movement work for piano) called Das Jar (“The Year”) as she stayed in Rome for a year with her family. Each of the 12 months is represented through its own movement, and “September: At the River” is full of autumn imagery. The flowing right hand accompaniment contrasts with the heavy left hand melody – perfect for describing the change in season.
Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Autumn section of Folk Songs of the Four Seasons
English composer Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) wrote Folk Songs of the Four Seasons for a women’s choral festival in 1949-1950. One of his lesser-known works, this “folk song cantata” (a cantata is a narrative piece of music for voices and accompaniment) is made of a collection of English folk songs. The autumn section has three folk songs: 1. John Barleycorn: a ballad of the corn-spirit, celebrating the rebirth of the corn the following Spring; 2. The Unquiet Grave: as described by Vaughan Williams himself, “The young maiden meets her dead lover among the storms and cold winds of Autumn”; 3. An Acre of Land: a harvest ballad. Read more about the full work here.
What are your favorite pieces to listen to during autumn?