The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music survey: What is the best classical music for Valentine’s Day?

February 14, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

Today — Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010 — is Valentine’s Day.

The holiday is generally credited to the medieval French poet Charles D’Orleans who wrote a love letter to his beloved while he was in prison.

But for me the day always brings thoughts of beautiful music to me. Nothing expresses love better than music. (See Caravaggio’s painting of Cupid surrounded by musical instrument, below.)

I think one of the best Valentine’s Day gifts is to play some music for someone — or to have it played for you.

As an avid amateur pianist, I tend to think of smaller pieces like Brahms’ Romance (Op. 118, No. 5); of Chopin’s waltzes; of Gabriel Faure’s “Romance Without Words No. 3”; and of Schumann’s Romance in F-sharp major.

So I send these out to my own Valentine who, I hope will read and listen to today’s posting:

But there are Beethoven’s two Romances for violin and orchestra. You could listen to lots of operas and single arias by Mozart and Handel as well as arias by Puccini, Verdi and Wagner (the “Love Death” in “Tristan and Isolde”).

Of course there are the many songs by Schubert, Faure and Schumann, and by so many others who find love poems an endless source of inspiration and lyrics.

Add in the cantatas of J.S. Bach.

Then the never-ending list of concertos and symphonies by dozens of composers.

And then add in chamber music.

The choices for great love music are endless, even if we exclude popular music and other non-classical genres.

So help The Ear narrow down the choices.

What is the best piece of classical love music ever composed?

What piece of classical music would you most like someone – or some group – to perform for you to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day?

What is the best piece of love-related classical music you can think to listen to, even if it isn’t performed for you?

Give our readers some suggestions that we can act on – if not this Valentine’s Day, then next year’s.

Posted in Classical music

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