Best Classical Music For Winter: Top 10 Songs

The natural world offers artistic inspiration in abundance. Winter, in particular, is of austere beauty, which juxtaposes hard and icy landscapes with the softness of the snow; the cold ice of frost with the heat of nostalgia; and the sadness of natural ends with the comfort of retrospection and remembrance. Despite all its beauty and allegorical symbolism, musical interpretations of snowfall and frozen landscapes are ubiquitous in the classical repertoire. As the trees shed their leaves, the nights lengthen and we begin to look back on the year that has passed, it’s time to get comfortable with these winter classics. Scroll down to check out our selection of the best classical music for winter along with our favorite icy coldest musical masterpieces.

Best Classical Music For Winter: Top 10 Songs

10. Debussy: “La neige danse” by Children’s corner

Debussy‘The Snow is Dancing’ is one of the best pieces of classical music for winter. This piano miniature more than deserves its wonderfully evocative title: a scintillating burst of relentless staccato notes cascade down the keyboard, while light, delicate melodies emerge from the hazy haze of sixteenth notes. Not only does Debussy deliver exquisite musical imagery to us, the Children’s corner The suite was originally dedicated to Debussy’s daughter, Claude-Emma, ​​and radiates childlike innocence, playfulness and a warm sense of nostalgia.

9. Rimsky-Korsakov: The Snow Maiden Suite

Next comes the opera by Rimsky-Korsakov The Snow Maiden, another snowy reef. This work is rooted in Russian musical tradition. The libretto is based on a popular pantheistic tale, where the metamorphosis from winter to spring is a metaphor for the reconciliation of the protagonists, the Snow Maiden and her lover, Mizgir. Rimsky-Korsakov’s widespread use of folk songs throughout the score emphasizes the connection to nature: the suite opens with a winter staging of floating strings and icy woods, before moving on to the rustic and lively “Dance of the Birds”.

8. Cage: Winter music

Always the innovator, Cage’s Winter music is not really a sheet music, but rather a set of 20 separate pages of music that can be played by up to 20 different pianists. Some, all, or some of the pages can be used, in any order. Confused? Yes, U.S. too. But that’s the magic of Cage – hidden in the seemingly haphazard pages and jumble of contrasting piano textures, rhythms and pitches – is a beautiful ode to winter. Sometimes the landscape is harsh, jagged, icy and slippery underfoot, but at other times it is soft, delicate and tranquil. It is the free, improvised and unpredictable atmosphere of this piece that makes it the perfect musical characterization of winter.

7. Korngold: Der Schneemann

Der Schneemann (“The Snowman”), one of the best classical pieces for winter, is a ballet-pantomime and one of Korngold’s first works, written when he was only 11 years old. Originally composed for piano, the ballet was so successful when it premiered in Vienna in 1910 that it was later developed into the orchestral version we know today. The story is based on a commedia dell’arte scenario that his father had written, with the base character Pierrot disguising himself as a snowman in order to escape with the beautiful Columbine without the knowledge of his uncle Pants. Korngold’s score exemplifies his wonderful post-Wagnerian Late Romantic style of composition and exudes character, wit, charm and lightness. A real winter delight that warms you up.

6. Chopin: Study No.11 in A minor, ‘The winter wind’

Of Chopin‘s 24 studies, No. 11 in A minor is often considered the most evil. It is perhaps best known by its nickname “Winter Wind”, and it’s easy to see why. Designed to develop the technique and dexterity of the pianist, this work is a relentless torrent of sixteenth notes on the right hand and a disturbing chord theme on the left. Designed to be played at high speed, Chopin’s Study is the perfect representation of blizzard snow, freezing cold, howling winds and shattering ice. You might have a hard time warming up after this one.

5. Glazunov: “Winter” of Seasons

The first painting from Glazunov’s ballet, Seasons, is called “A winter landscape”. In portraying winter musically, Glazunov takes it a step further, and audiences are actually presented with the living embodiment of winter itself, dancing alongside his companions: frost, ice, snow and hail. Each character receives their own variation of this snow-laden score. The anthropomorphization of winter weather is reflected in the music, in a style close to that of Tchaikovsky and even Glazunov’s teacher Rimsky-Korsakov. With colorful instrumentation, including driftwoods, trill strings, magical harp flourishes, and an abundance of warm-blooded romance, Glazunov’s glorious ballet truly captures the beauty of winter.

4. Rutter: Breath, breathe, you, winter wind

Although performed as a work in its own right, Breath, you, winter wind began life as part of Rutter’s choral cycle When the ice cubes hang down. It’s a magical setting from a song from Shakespeare’s second act As you like it for SATB choir. This sprawling, wintery piece begins with a grim, piercing harpsichord and icy tone of the sopranos, but gradually thaws out to deeper vocals, with Rutter’s radical lyricism painting the words:

Hi-ho! Sing hi-ho! holly green;
Most friendships pretend, most only like madness:
So hi, holly! This life is more cheerful.

3. Schubert: Winterreise

Schubertthe famous song cycle Winterreise, meaning ‘Winter trip’, is the setting to music of 24 poems by Müller for tenor and piano. In this work, Schubert explores winter in its darkest and crudest form: the singer wanders aimlessly (Gefrorne Tränen, meaning ‘Tears of ice’), dreaming of her love and spring (Frühling Street / ‘Spring dream’). He wakes up, however, in the cold darkness of his wintery reality. Bare and stark textures from the opening song Gute Nacht (“Good night”) to the static buzzing of the fence Der Leiermann (“The Herdy-Gerdy Man”), Schubert delicately balances words with music, galvanizing the text with exquisite melodies and romantic harmonies. This beautiful but heartbreaking tribute to love is one of the best pieces of classical music for winter.

2. Vaughan Williams: Sinfonia Antarctica

Having been commissioned to mark the 1947 film Scott of Antarctica, Vaughan williams reused some of his material for his beautiful, but terrifying Seventh Symphony. Well titled Sinfonia Antarctica, by Vaughan Williams captures the epic and awe-inspiring power of the frozen landscape and paints perilous blizzards, overwhelming freezing winds and an ominous sense of the failed expedition. To capture the awe-inspiring power of the landscape, Vaughan Williams uses tremendous orchestral forces, including a lyricless three-part female choir with a solo soprano like icy winds in the first and last movements, a sparkling celestial, harp, strings, organ (in the third movement), double woodwinds and an extended percussion section of glockenspiel, vibraphone, gong, bells and even a wind machine. The fact that Vaughan Williams is able to imbue his score with the immensity of the landscape and the feeling of humanity paling into insignificance in comparison, testifies to his sheer genius.

1. Vivaldi: ‘Winter’ of The four Seasons

Vivaldi is surely the king of seasonal music. His icy homage to winter is the most dramatic of his Four Seasons. Dynamic and dangerous, the first movement is simply iconic: pulsating, pointed strings and an icy harpsichord accompany the famous torrential violin solo, which requires fast and technically demanding string crossings, fast repeated notes and precision. freezing. The third movement is a bit darker, capturing the dreary, gloomy, gloomy reality of winter nights. Vivaldi’s brilliance is his ability to capture all aspects of winter so perfectly in dramatic musical form.

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