The Well-Tempered Ear

What classical music best honors Earth Day? How about the environmental music of John Luther Adams?

April 22, 2011

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is Earth Day, an international event celebrating environmental causes that was started in 1970 by the progressive politician, and former Wisconsin Governor and U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson .

Not something you’d expect the likes of our new regressive governor, Scott Walker, to come up with.

Anyway, here is some history and background:

So what classical music is appropriate to listen as you mark the event?

Chances are you have heard of John Adams, the modern American Minimalist who is best known for the operas “Nixon in China,” “Dr. Atomic” and “Klinghofer” as well as various other instrumental works.

But chances are you may not know of John Luther Adams (below).

This Adams uses natural sounds of the Earth to create a haunting environmental music. He is championed and given a whole chapter by famed critic Alex Ross (below), of The New Yorker magazine, in his latest book, “Listen to This.”

Here is a sample of Adams’ music with his own commentary. Take a look and listen, and let me know what you think.

And then let me know what music you like most to celebrate Earth Day?

Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony or “Pastorale” piano sonata?

Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”? Holst’s “The Planets”?

Haydn’s “The Seasons” or “The Creation”?

Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet or a particular song about nature?

Dvorak;s Symphony no. 8 or the “American” Quartet?

Debussy’s “La Mer” or Smetana’s :”The Moldau”?

Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 (“Titan”) or Symphony No. 3?

There is a lot of music that, in whole or part, would seem appropriate, no?

I’d love to hear of some things I’ve never heard of before.

But tried-and-true classics will do too.

What do you think of John Luther Adams and his music?

And of other choices?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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