COFFEE BREAK | Five Classical Music Pieces To Make You Feel Better About Snow

Image by Andi Graf (CC0/Pixabay)

The weather outside may be frightful, but it’s all the more reason to curl up on the couch and listen to gorgeous music. We’ve dug up a few pieces that should even make you feel a little better about the snow, and remind you of how beautiful it is.

Really.

Claude Debussy: The Snow Is Dancing

The Snow Is Dancing is part of Debussy’s celebrated Children’s Corner, a six-movement suite for solo piano. It was published in 1908, dedicated to Debussy’s daughter Claude-Emma, who was about three years old. “A ma chère petite Chouchou, avec les tendres excuses de son Père pour ce qui va suivre. C. D.” (To my dear little Chouchou, with tender apologies from her father for what follows.) While it’s a piece for children, The Snow Is Dancing is quite challenging technically.

Georgy Sviridov: Sneg Idyot (Snow Is Falling)

Georgy Sviridov was a student of Shostakovich, and is considered an important figure in Russian 20th century music. His Snow Is Falling is a choral work, a cantata that interweaves passages of stillness and folk-inspired melodies. Sviridov is best known for his choral works, which often evoke the traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church. He works are tonal, with influences of Eastern European folk music, among others. His Sneg Idyot, small cantata to words by Boris Pasternak for female chorus, boys’ chorus and orchestra, was written in 1965.

Franz Schubert: Winterreise, D.911

Franz Schubert’s Winterreise, now D.911, was published as Opus 89 in 1828. The song cycle is set to the words of 24 poems by German writer Wilhelm Müller, their second collaboration after Die schöne Müllerin. Winterreise follows the fortunes of a solitary wanderer who takes a trip into the snowy landscape to leave behind memories of a broken romance. The themes may not exactly qualify as uplifting, but the music is sublime. The video depicts Le Chimera Project’s production of Schubert’s Winterreise with bass-baritone Philippe Sly.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Der Schneemann (The Snowman)

Composed by the Austrian prodigy at the age of 11, Korgold’s The Snowman was published in 1910 as his fame was rising. He was dubbed the “new Mozart” and publishers rushed to print anything of his they could get their hands on. Der Schneeman was one of that first wave. The ballet follows a charming story about Pierrot, who of course loves the beautiful Columbine, and their struggles with her controlling uncle Pantalon.

Alexina Louie: Winter Music

Prolific Canadian composer Alexina Louie’s has written a few pieces with wintry themes, as it happens. Her Winter Music (1989) is a chamber concerto written for a viola and 11 performers, commissioned by Vancouver New Music. The piece was nominated for a Juno Award in 1989. While the award didn’t come her way that year, Louie has received the SOCAN Concert Music Award for the most performed Classical composer of the year in 1990, 1992, and 2003, among many other accolades. The final movement is performed in the video by Alexandra Simpson and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music New Music Ensemble, conducted by Nicole Paiement in 2020.

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