The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Today is Earth Day 2018. Listen to a new one-hour symphony commissioned by National Geographic to mark the event in sound and pictures | April 22, 2018

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is April 22, 2018 – Earth Day.

A lot of classical music is appropriate to the occasion, from the sound paintings in oratorios by Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Franz Joseph Haydn and Felix Mendelssohn to the chamber music and songs of Franz Schubert; from the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Antonin Dvorak and Gustav Mahler to the contemporary award-winning environmental music by John Luther Adams, much of whose work can be found on YouTube.

But of special interest this year is the one-hour “Symphony for Our World.” It is a five-movement symphony that was commissioned from two different composers – Austin Fray (below top) and Andrew Christie (below bottom) — by National Geographic to celebrate the planet.

The presentation premieres TONIGHT at 6 p.m. on the TV channel National Geographic WILD. (In the Madison area, the Spectrum/Charter cable channel is 147, 707 for HD.) Here is a link to a search engine that finds the channel where you live. Just plug in your ZIP code and your television provider:

The performance tonight also marks the beginning of a national orchestra tour with the music. (You can see and hear the first two minutes in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Here is a link to a story with more information, including a trailer, the dates and places of the world tour, and quotes from the composers about the composition and which instruments evoke which natural phenomena:

What composer or piece of classical music do you think best celebrates Earth Day?

Leave your answer with a YouTube link, if possible, in the COMMENT section.

The Ear wants to hear.


  1. Another great choice would be Claude Debussy’s La Mer. It evokes the sea, which forms more than 60% of the earth’s surface, better than any work that was written. Debussy was a giant.

    There’s a terrific recording of it by Claudio Abbado at Youtube (we really have lived in an age of superb conductors too):

    Comment by fflambeau — April 22, 2018 @ 12:40 am

  2. There are several good ones but at the top I would put Jean Sibelius, Symphony #5. He captures the sound of some bird flying and all the sounds of nature. The last 10 minutes or so of the symphony might be the most glorious in classical music.

    I think it is the greatest of all 5th symphonies.

    There are many great recordings of this. Leonard Bernstein was surprisingly good with Sibelius. Here’s a link to him conducting the VP in the Sibelius:

    Comment by fflambeau — April 22, 2018 @ 12:22 am

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