The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Antonio Vivaldi and Joshua Bell evoke the summer storms that Wisconsin now waits for and fears for the next week | September 1, 2018

By Jacob Stockinger

So much of Wisconsin is already so flooded after the past week or 10 days that an open-ended state of emergency has been officially declared for the entire state.

And now the weather predictions for the next week or so are for more rainstorms and thunderstorms every day — complete with watches, alerts and warnings from the National Weather Service.

Will those storms swell the rivers and lakes even more?

Will more streets be closed and bridges destroyed?

Will more basements and even whole homes and buildings be ruined?

Will more businesses be forced to close?

The Ear knows a lot of music about water, especially by Claude Debussy. But so much of the water music from Handel and Smetana to Wagner and Debussy seems restorative or calm or redemptive or simply descriptive.

But the water Wisconsin faces makes us edgy and nervous while we wait to see what happens because the weather could bring more devastation and destruction.

The closest music comes to the right mood is the frenetic and even violent quality of the summer storm in “The Four Seasons” by Antonio Vivaldi and the energetic violin playing by Joshua Bell.

If you can think of a better piece, let The Ear know.

In the meantime, let’s all hope for the best and here is Vivaldi’s musical summer storm in a YouTube video:


1 Comment »

  1. Maybe the music from Handel on relating to water is relatively peaceful (look at the mild storms in Beethoven’s Pastoral symphony) because of the absence of global warming.

    The 4 Seasons selection by Vivaldi is superb and it is violent (but relatively short). Maybe that’s the difference between past, present, and what’s coming: mother nature was a bit less harsh then.

    I agree that Debussy had a special gift with water, but then, he had a special gift for everything musical. I’ve come to see him as more revolutionary in music than R. Wagner, and Bernstein suggests this too in his Norton lectures. Debussy really changed music, perhaps more so than Wagner.

    Comment by fflambeau — September 1, 2018 @ 12:11 am


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