Classical Music Inspired by Love Part 2

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, so let’s listen to some more music inspired by love. Check out part one here, and let’s jump in:

Le Voir Dit by Guillaume de Machaut

Background

Composed from 1361-65, Le Voir Dit (“A True Story”) is one of the most epic romances written by one of the most important Medieval composers: Guillaume de Machaut (1300-1377). The part-autobiography, part-fictition work is a collection of songs, poems, and letters based on his love story.

Inspired by Péronne d’Armentières

Over 9 thousand lines of verse in eight musical settings, Le Voir Dit tells the story of a young upper-class girl who falls in love with Machaut the poet. He calls the girl Tout Belle throughout the work and only reveals her name at the end via anagram. Not much is known about the historical accuracy of Le Voir Dit, but Machaut was certainly inspired by love in his life to create this work.

Liebesleid (“Love’s Sorrow”) by Fritz Kreisler

Background

Liebesleid was originally written by violinist Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962) as part of three works composed for violin and piano sometime around 1905 (called Alt-Wiener Tanzweisen, or “Old Viennese Melodies”). His friend Rachamninoff transcribed it for piano in 1931.

*Side note: The above recording is of the composer himself on the violin.

Inspired by Life

Not much is known about the history of Liebesleid. Kreisler often composed short pieces to perform as encores at his concerts, and Alt-Wiener Tanzweisen falls in that category. Liebesleid takes the listener on a journey through all of the emotions associated with lost love, including the sweet and the bitter. I think it’s safe to say this piece was inspired by love – if not in Kreisler’s own life, then by the idea of love as a powerful emotion.

Adagietto from Mahler’s 5th Symphony

Background

In February 1901, Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) almost died. As a result of this traumatic experience, that summer was one of the most prolific times of his life; he composed eight songs and the first movements of the 5th symphony in the span of a few months. However, the music from this summer was predominantly solemn, including the first two movements of the symphony (can you blame him? He almost died!).

Inspired by Alma

Fast forward to November 1901, as Mahler worked to find the perfect ending for his symphony. He met the beautiful Alma Schindler, and two months later they were engaged. The fourth movement – the Adagietto – was composed during this time.

It is believed that the Adagietto is a love song to Alma; there was a short, handwritten poem in the original conductor’s copy of the score:

The Adagietto is one of Mahler’s most famous works. Its raw passion creates a connection to listeners because of the exquisite beauty of love.

That’s all for today! What other classical pieces do you know are inspired by love?

Classical Music Inspired by Love Part 2

 

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I'm a pianist, composer, writer, photographer, and overall classical-music-lover who is always open to new sounds.

8 thoughts on “Classical Music Inspired by Love Part 2

  1. The first and second selection send me into a visual place: the empty cathedral except for the choir of men, their voices resonating in the acoustically perfect sacred structure; the second a large parlor in the home of a wealthy and known family, a piano, a violinist. Notables in gowns and tuxes sit primly on chairs, enthralled that they can witness as well as hear this violinist record. The third selection I’ve heard many times and though it doesn’t evoke a visual, I love watching the conductor move with his musicians, with his music.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a simply fascinating blog.. loved following the thread of this post…medieval music has always been a favourite… loved the Kreisler, and having avoided Mahler all my ife, you have converted me with this moving and deeply thrllling excerpt… thank you…

    Liked by 1 person

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