The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Spring arrives today. What is your favorite music celebrating spring? | March 20, 2017

By Jacob Stockinger

Has March’s proverbial lion finally yielded to the lamb?

Here is Madison there is still some snow on the ground. But it should all be gone by the end of today, which, like yesterday, will reach into the 50s.

Just in time.

Today is the Vernal Equinox, bringing the first day of spring. It arrives at 5:29 a.m. this morning.

Spring has been an inspiration to many composers. So there is a lot of music to choose from when you want to celebrate season musically.

The Ear is fickle and his choice changes from year to year.

But lately, his favorite has been the “Spring” Sonata in F Major for violin and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven. (You can hear the opening of the famously tuneful and upbeat sonata, performed by violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy, in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Of course there are violin concertos by Antonio Vivaldi and Arcangelo Corelli; choral works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Franz Joseph Haydn; chamber music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; orchestral music by Robert Schumann, Peter Tchaikovsky and Igor Stravinsky; piano pieces by Felix Mendelssohn and Edvard Grieg; songs by Franz Schubert and Johannes Brahms. And there is more, so much more.

Yesterday, Wisconsin Public Radio programmed a lot of spring music, and The Ear expects the same for today’s programming.

But you can be your own DJ if you want. Here is a list of almost two hours of spring-related music:

And here is a springtime puzzler, or quiz, about flowers in opera from NPR or National Public Radio:

Plus, there are plenty of other guides and anthologies to music for spring that you can find online.

So here is what The Ear wants to know: What is your favorite piece of music to greet spring with?

Leave words in the COMMENT section along with a link to a YouTube performance if possible.

And a Happy Spring to you!


  1. Picking up on the comment made by FFlambeau, the rehashing of well known (and certainly deserved) masterpieces again and again is getting boring. Concerts repeat the same conservative choices again and we wonder why classical music audience shrinks just a wee bit more every year.

    I don’t want to come across as negative but it’s frustrating to see absolutely gorgeous music by unknown composers being ignored just for the umpteenth performance and analysis of Schumann’s Spring Symphony or Beethoven’s 9th.

    To this end I would like to nominate 2 lesser known Spring celebrations by one of my most favorite composers and a largely forgotten genius – Joachim Raff

    1. Symphony No. 8 in A major, Op. 205 “Frühlingsklänge”. A joyous celebration of spring – The 1st movement is jam packed with a plethora of amazing ideas.

    2. “Ode au printemps” in G major, for piano and orchestra, Op. 76. A more gentle portrait of Spring with a mildly stormy middle section.

    What do you think?

    Comment by obscurecomposers — April 11, 2017 @ 3:33 am

  2. Schumann’s Symphony No. 1, “Spring.” I first heard it played in 1967 by the Boston Symphony with Leinsdorf conducting. Rip-roaring!

    Comment by Ron McCrea — March 21, 2017 @ 3:39 am

  3. Ever since I first heard it during my college days during Springtime, I associate Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony with rebirth/Springtime; and equally, Appalachian Spring with Copeland at the helm with original instruments.

    Comment by David Salsieder — March 20, 2017 @ 7:07 am

  4. The Rustle of Spring – Christian Sinding

    Comment by tom — March 20, 2017 @ 5:42 am

  5. YUJA AND HER BUDDIES PLAYING VIVALDI’S “SPRING”…WHAT ELSE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by TERRY DEAL BAER — March 20, 2017 @ 4:36 am

  6. Since you did mention Vivaldi (and the obvious 4 seasons) here’s a link to a modern version of it recomposed by the German, Max Richter and performed on the violin by Daniel Hope. I think you can really feel Spring in this lively rendition.

    (By the way, another version of this on Youtube by Weber has 1.2 million hits).

    Comment by FFlambeau — March 20, 2017 @ 2:30 am

  7. I think you do a huge disservice to classical music by always presenting the names of the “usual suspects”: namely, Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart etc. with a handful of others (Rachmaninoff and Vivaldi, for instance) thrown in.

    Besides being unimaginative, why be so restrictive and why not include musicians from more contemporary times and outside of the German-Austrian mainstream of music that you almost exclusively present?

    There are tons of wonderful music not only for spring but for many other times of the year/occasion by composers who are terrific but underplayed, thanks in part to efforts like yours.

    You even missed an American classic, Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring. There’s also a lovely piece by Amy Beach (“The Year’s at the Spring”) (but she apparently gets a double strike against her: she was a lady and an American). Or, how about Benjamin Britten’s “The Succession of the Four Sweet Months”? Or, Delius’s “On hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring”.

    And how more spring like can you get than Richard Rogers, “It might As Well Be Spring” which WPR, to their credit, played sung by Bryn Terfel.”

    WPR, which has demonstrated more flexibility in its programming of late, also played a wonderful Sibelius piece called “Spring Song, Opus 16.”

    Here’s a nice version of the Amy Beach piece (there are lots at YouTube).

    Comment by FFlambeau — March 20, 2017 @ 1:31 am

    • Mr (Ms.) fflambeau,
      How about starting a blog of your own? You’re clearly extremely knowledgeable. It’s a big tent.

      I myself might choose Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun”.
      I liked the Leonard Bernstein version that was the first choice on You Tube when I googled this title.

      Comment by Ann Boyer — March 20, 2017 @ 7:56 am

      • I’m taking your comment as a compliment. Thanks. It would be nice if bloggers/writers/critics/music programmers in classical music started to realize that there really is worthwhile music written after Haydn and Beethoven and outside Germany. In fact, Mozart, Handel and many others in the “German camp” thought the best music of their day came from: Italy.

        France and Debussy? Way too modern and too French! (I’m joking but for them it is real.).

        I find it odd that an American living in Madison would not even consider Appalachian Spring by Copeland amongst the favorites for Spring.

        I think part of it is laziness and part of it education. So you have to push back for your Debussy!

        Comment by FFlambeau — March 20, 2017 @ 11:16 pm

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