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
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
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
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:
“Wie ich Dich liebe, Du meine Sonne,
How much I love you, you my sun,
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?