February 10, 2020
Valentine’s Day is soon upon us, and music is a powerful force evoking every emotion there is. Here is your list of the Top 10 most romantically-inspired works of classical music.
All You Need is Love
If you’re fond of classic rock and chamber music – this is for you!
The famous Habanera, entitled Amour est un oiseau rebelle , translated to Love is a rebellious bird (… that none can tame) ends with a warning: “But if I love you, be on your guard!” Soprano Maria Callas – known as much for her personal love life as much as the love lives she portrayed onstage – was the ultimate Carmen, despite being a soprano singing a mezzo role.
Intermezzo for piano, Op. 118 No. 2
This gorgeous gem for piano was inspired by Brahms’ love for his friend and mentor’s wife, Clara. She was a gifted pianist and a muse for Brahms, and turned to him during her husband’s descent into mental illness. “Did they, didn’t they?” is debated to this day.
This was composed while Chopin was vacationing in Majorca, having fallen in love with George Sand (the noted female French novelist who took a male pen name, wore men’s clothing and – gasp – smoked cigars in public). He was inspired by the even drumming of rain on the rooftop.
Symphony No. 5
This movement, the Adagietto, was inspired by Alma, whom he married soon after he composed this symphony. It’s very tender, intimate, and heartfelt, leaving your heart incapable of beating more fervently.
O Mio babbino caro is an aria (the “big song” moment in an opera) from Gianni Schicchi, in which the daughter pleads her father to let her marry the man she loves. This aria became THE “what was that song?” question in 1985 when the film “A Room With a View” was released. If you watch carefully, you’ll see the watchful eye of Maggie Smith, who plays the chaperone – already channeling the role for which she’d become most famous: The Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey.
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
This variation, the 18th of of 24, is a go-to for love themes, and it’s full, robust, gushy, Russian, and romantic. For music theory nerds, it’s the melody from the very start of the piece turned upside down, switched from minor to major.
Romeo and Juliet
This song, “What Is A Youth” from the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli film, captured the zeitgeist of the youth of that time, and the chemistry between the leads, Leonard Whiting and Oliviey Hussey is SOMETHING. The teenaged actors, nervous about this big project, literally clung to each other and wound up dating. “What Is A Youth” depicts the moment Romeo spots Juliet, and ensures they meet, in a moment of love at first sight.
Fantasie in C
This piano piece was written under duress when he was parted from Clara, his muse; a couple of years after composing this, work, she became his wife. The first movement starts with a restless bass line, to suggest a fluttering heart. The melodies are sweeping and heartfelt.
In the original 1978 movie, Superman literally sweeps Lois Lane off her feet and takes her flying over the city of Metropolis (which was based on Toronto, originally, and over time, New York) … and she learns to trust him. This is the love theme.
#GuideToSeries #TepTenRomanticPieces #ValentinesDay