Classical Spring: A Musical Tour of the Season

  • Host Jennifer Szweda Jordan speaks with CMU professor Rob Fallon about spring in classical music.

May 2, 2014
Last published March 30, 2013

Carnegie Mellon University assistant professor of musicology Rob Fallon talks with Allegheny Front host Jennifer Szweda Jordan about how composers Vivaldi, Stravinsky, and Messiaen portrayed spring in classical music. 

“Music is full of references to spring and composers in the classical tradition have typically represented spring with bird song,” Fallon said. “Birds offer the most musical rendition of nature."

First, Fallon plays portions of Antonio Vivaldi's Spring that reflect birds, a brook, and a lively peasant dance with bagpipes.

But spring is not all sweetness and light. Fallon says that Russian composer Igor Stravinsky conveys a darker image of the season. It suggests “a sense that the world was coming to life again in all of its danger, violence, and fecundity,” he says.

Finally, we hear a work composed by Olivier Messiaen, which is a more cacophonic and modern evocation of birds.