The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Listen to live “eclipse music” during today’s solar eclipse | August 21, 2017

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is the day a lot of people have been waiting for for a long time.

The United States will experience a solar eclipse (below).

By now you’ve heard enough about not looking directly at the sun because of the severe damage you risk doing to your eyes.

But indirectly you can watch and also hear it unfold from about 11:15 a.m. CDT for three hours. And you can see it and hear about through any number of media, including television, radio and the Internet. Just Google it and take your choice.

What you may not know is that the entire eclipse in the U.S, will be accompanied by the famed and always adventurous Kronos Quartet (below top) playing an ingenious score – which uses the energy from the sun during the eclipse to create notes  — written especially for this occasion by the contemporary San Francisco composer Wayne Grim (below bottom) especially for this occasion.

You can hear a sample of Grim’s music for another scientific project at the Exploratorium in the YouTube video at the bottom.

Here are links to the stories on National Public Radio (NPR) and the web, which feature a link to the live-streamed performance from the Exploratorium in San Francisco:

And for good measure, here is a link to a story about the first photograph ever taken of a solar eclipse – the one that appears above. The daguerreotype dates from July 28, 1851 and was taken by Johann Julius Friedrich Berkowski.


  1. While not specifically about solar eclipses, the 3rd movement of Claude Debussy’s String Quartet in G, Opus 10, reminds me of a sun rising. As of course, does his Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun.

    Here’s a nice Youtube performance of the first piece (you can skip forward to the 3rd movement):


    Comment by FFlambeau — August 21, 2017 @ 4:31 am

  2. Alan Hovhaness, who was very attuned to natural events, wrote a lovely piano sonata about eclipses, his opus #367.

    Here is a good performance from Youtube by the Italian pianist Nicola Giosmin.

    Note the work is in 6 separate movements.


    Comment by FFlambeau — August 21, 2017 @ 2:37 am

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