The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music poll: What’s the best piece of classical music for Mother’s Day?

May 9, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is Mother’s Day.

Today it is something of a commercialized Hallmark Card holiday.

But it is marked world-wide and in many different cultures in one form or another — a fitting tribute since we all have mothers.

It is also the holiday that in 1870 was used by Julia Ward Howe to protest the carnage and the death of mothers’ children — especially sons back then — in the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War.

So in some way Mother’s Day is linked to pacifism.

Which might be seen as the social equivalent of nurturing.

And we could sure use more peace around the world.

Anyway, I found myself wondering: What are some great pieces of classical music that celebrate mothers and motherhood — especially if we set aside all the sacred and religious music that celebrates the Virgin Mary.

I love Dvorak’s “Songs My Mother Taught Me,” but all I could find on YouTube is this instrumental version — which is lovely nonetheless:

And then there is this piano transcription of Edvard’s Grieg’s “A Mother’s Grief”:

And there is Robert Schumann’s song “On my Heart, on My Breast” from his incomparable song cycle “A Woman’s Loves and Life”:

But probably my all-favorite is the fifth movement of Brahms’ “A German Requiem,” which he wrote in memory of his own dead mother, represented by the soprano part:

If you know of other mother-inspired classical music pieces, please let me and others know.

The Ear wants to hear.

And so do a lot of mothers and their children.

Posted in Classical music

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