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Composers and Nature

There has always been a special connection between Nature and classical music composers. Many composers love(d) to be outdoors, enjoying the fresh air while being inspired by the beauty of Mother Nature. If you would have taken a walk around 1800 in the countryside near Vienna, chances are you might have bumped into Ludwig van Beethoven, since he often took long walks in the woods and forests surrounding Vienna while escaping the busy city life. He wrote in one of his letters how he felt 'as happy as a child' during these walks while claiming that 'no one could love the countryside more than I do - for the woods, the trees, and the rocks give a man the inspiration he needs'. We can discover to what extend nature inspired Beethoven when listening to his 6th Symphony, also known as the Pastorale Symphony. All the five movements of this symphony describe a different aspect of nature, depicting what kind of emotions these sceneries evoked within him. For example, in the opening of the second movement called 'scene by the brook', the strings play a sweet and calm motif illustrating what it feels like to sit next to a calm and murmuring stream, creating an atmosphere for contemplation (for more information about this symphony, click here).

'No one can love the countryside more than I do' - Beethoven

Beethoven wasn't the only composer who had an intimate relationship with Nature and made references to its beauty in his works. Another example is Johannes Brahms, who is known for his habit of taking long walks early in the morning where he would often be inspired to compose, sometimes quite literally. John Swafford wrote in his biography how Brahms' melody 'for the finale of the C-minor Symphony actually traces the shape of the Alps, as Brahms viewed them during a hike', which I find such an amazing story. And what about Franz Schubert, whose songs' lyrics often depict nature, and of course Antonio Vivaldi with his famous 'The Four Seasons'? Well, I think you get the picture...

Music has always been part of Nature

Of course, Nature is in many more ways related to music than only by inspiring classical music composers. From the birdsongs to the sound of thunder, music is already part of nature without a composer having to interfere. And let's not forget that many musical instruments are made out of wood, which is directly derived from the earth! So next time when you get some fresh air, don't be surprised if you suddenly feel inspired to sing a song or whistle a tune, that is what being outside does to you.


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