The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: What classical music best celebrates the solstice and the arrival of summer? | June 21, 2017

REMINDER: Today is the fifth annual citywide Make Music Madison that celebrates the coming of summer with FREE, PUBLIC and LOCAL performances. For more information, go to:

By Jacob Stockinger

Summer arrived late last night – at 11:24 p.m. — in the Midwest.

To mark and celebrate the welcome event, here are three pieces of well-known summer-related music:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” or a “A Short Night Music” (or “A Little Night Music”:

Summer from Astor Piazzolla’s “Four Seasons in Buenos Aires”:

And Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville, Summer of 1914” with soprano Dawn Upshaw.

But there is so much more to choose from.

Here is a link to five other pieces by different composers –- Antonio Vivaldi, Felix Mendelssohn, Frank Bridge, Alexander Glazunov, Frederick Delius and George Gershwin.

Which music would you choose to mark the summer solstice and the coming of summer?

Leave word and a YouTube link, if possible, in the COMMENT section.

The Ear wants to hear.


  1. Well, the obvious–

    Cuckoo Song
    [Brit. Lib. MS Harley 978, f. 11v]

    Sumer is icumen in,
    Loude sing cuckou!
    Groweth seed and bloweth meed,
    And springth the wode now.
    Sing cuckou!

    Ewe bleteth after lamb,
    Loweth after calve cow,
    Bulloc sterteth, bucke verteth,
    Merye sing cuckou!
    Cuckou, cuckou,
    Wel singest thou cuckou:
    Ne swik thou never now!

    Comment by gingerama — June 21, 2017 @ 12:13 pm

  2. A few others not listed that come to mind:

    Samuel Barber Summer Music, for woodwind Quintet
    Sergei Prokofiev Fairy Summer, from his Cinderella ballet
    Edvard Grieg Summer Evening, from his last set of Lyric Pieces

    Comment by Tim Adrianson — June 21, 2017 @ 6:51 am

  3. How about Mendelssohn’s Overture and also Incidental Music to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” ?

    Comment by Ann Boyer — June 21, 2017 @ 6:07 am

  4. Here’s another: the best of all 5th Symphonies, in my opinion, by Jean Sibelius with its swan-call motiff. Sibelius saw some swans flying overhead and here captures them for us.

    Here’s a terrific rendition by Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic (Bernstein was terrific with both Mahler and his contemporary, Sibelius):

    Comment by FFlambeau — June 21, 2017 @ 3:04 am

  5. Alan Hovhaness, Sonata for Harp and Guitar, Opus 374, “The Spirit of the Trees” or Alan Hovhaness, Suite for Harp and Flute, Opus 245 “Garden of Adonis.”

    Here’s YouTube:

    Comment by FFlambeau — June 21, 2017 @ 2:53 am

  6. Joachim Raff’s Symphony No. 9 Im Sommer, arguably his best symphony, extremely successful in its day.

    Comment by obscurecomposers — June 21, 2017 @ 12:37 am

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