“And this our life, exempt from public haunts,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything”
As You Like It (Act II, Scene 1), William Shakespeare
Shakespeare heard the voices of nature, as described here by Duke Senior. Many composers have also answered the call of springtime’s riotous colors during this, the blooming season. When I see vibrant green grass, trees exploding with bright, lush floral gardens in my neighborhood, and leaves turned verdant seemingly overnight, I literally hear the world singing!
Here is a playlist of music inspired by the beauty of blooming things; I hope it fills your heart and your ears with color, excitement, and a sense of rebirth! Scroll down to read more about our selections, or click here to jump to the full playlists.
Justin Heinrich Knecht: Le portrait musical de la nature (The Musical Portrait of Nature)
Like Beethoven’s more famous Pastoral Symphony, the opening bars beckon the listener to wildflower meadows and green hillside, complete with shepherds and babbling streams!
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Flos Campi
Once it really gets cooking, Ralph Vaughan Williams' piece, whose title means Flowers of the Field, transports me to a midsummer festival dance awash in floral finery!
Sergei Rachmaninoff: "Lilacs" and "Daisies"
Two of my favorite flowers captured by Sergei Rachmaninoff in these two piano transcriptions of his own songs. The delicacy of both the fragrance of lilacs and the petals of daisies is perfectly rendered in these short pieces.
Léo Delibes: "Flower Duet" from Lakmé
The musical imagery evoked by Lakmé and her servant as they gather flowers in this lush duet is as intoxicating as the jasmine fragrance they sing about!
Giacomo Puccini: Crisantemi
This chamber piece has Giacomo Puccini's characteristic operatic melodies, which seem to bloom like the flower for which it is titled, the chrysanthemum, the flower of heroism in Italian tradition.
Giacomo Puccini: "Flower Duet" ("Il cannone del porto") from Madama Butterfly
Things don’t end so well for Cio-Cio-san this particular springtime, but this music combined with the magical image of fluttering flower petals is a favorite amongst opera-lovers.
Antonin Dvořák: From the Bohemian Forest: Silent Woods
The fifth movement of this Dvořák cycle is a musical walk through cool dark woods.
George Frideric Handel: "Where e’er You Walk" from Semele
Cool gales shall fan the glade, the blushing flowers shall rise, especially when serenaded by Sir Bryn Terfel in music of George Frideric Handel!
Robert Schumann: Waldszenen (Forest Scenes)
Hunters, scary trees, birdsong, blooming woodland flowers, welcoming green meadows; all things you might find while out exploring nature are all present in Robert Schumann's set of short piano pieces.
Gustav Holst: Brook Green Suite
Though named neither for a small body of water nor for springtime foliage, this piece is nevertheless reminiscent of a green and pleasantly blooming English countryside.
Richard Wagner: "Forest Murmurs" from Siegfried
Our Wagnerian hero wanders the forest and the trees offer comfort, guidance and more than a little mystery!
Lukas Foss: "Come My Beloved" from Song of Songs
A lush and gorgeous cantata by Lukas Foss, setting the biblical text of the Song of Solomon. "Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come!"