15 glorious pieces of classical music for summertime
19 July 2022, 14:49
Let these brilliant summer melodies take you on a musical journey from the fervent height of summer, to the tranquil sunset at day’s end.
And for a continuous playlist of summery music, press play now on Classic FM Summertime on Global Player.
Vivaldi – Summer
Whisk yourself away to Venice and a summer spent under the Italian sun, with this virtuosic Baroque concerto. Just watch out for its passionate thunderstorms...
Read more: Discover Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons
Albéniz – Asturias
Marquez – Conga del Fuego
This fantastically energetic work is a frantic, joyous dance – impossibly catchy in its rhythms, a new classical favourite of the last ten years or so and an immediate reminder of the euphoria of summer.
Delius – On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring
Based on a melody from an old Norwegian folk song ‘In Ola Valley’, this beautiful tone poem is among English composer Delius’ most beloved pieces. Listen out as instruments of the orchestra imitate the natural sounds of the cuckoo – from the strings to the woodwind.
Tereso Carreño – Mi Teresita (Little Waltz)
Here’s a delightful ditty for solo piano, written by 19th-century Venezuelan concert pianist and composer Teresa Carreño for her daughter, Teresita. At her concerts, Carreño often played this charming piece as an encore.
Gershwin – Summertime
It started as an opera aria from Porgy and Bess, and then became a reggae hit, and finally a jazz staple. Gershwin’s sultry writing with a hint of melancholy has lent itself to every genre imaginable, making ‘Summertime’ the most covered song in the world.
Respighi – The Pines of Rome
Glimmering with anticipation from the offset, this delightful orchestral tone poem opens with a musical painting of children playing in the pine groves and closes with trumpet fanfares to depict a marching band.
Beethoven – Romance No. 2 in F major
Warmth practically radiates out of this Romantic violin work – sublime, and yet somewhat sad in its innocence and sweetness, as we remember that Beethoven composed the piece while coming to terms with the tragedy of his deafness, probably for the first time.
Debussy – Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune
This delightful symphonic poem tells the tale of the mythical faun who, enchanted by the woods’ nymphs and naiads, drifts off to sleep. Don’t be surprised if Debussy’s famous chromatic opening flute solo and shimmering harp lines send you off into your own slumber, as they emulate the languorous heat of a summer afternoon.
Rodrigo – Concierto de Aranjuez
Journey to Spain’s sweltering capital with this beautiful classical guitar concerto, filled to the brim with swelling melodies and melancholic emotion, all while bringing to life the aristocratic essence of an 18th-century court.
Mendelssohn – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Within Shakespeare’s tranquil yet playful setting, Mendelssohn places a sweeping Intermezzo, enchanting Nocturne and a rather impish Scherzo. This music is an exquisite listen during the warmer months.
Camille Pépin – Apaisé, boisé
Rising star French composer Camille Pépin’s gently pulsating work for orchestra induces a state of dreamlike musical bliss. It practically sings of summer and new growth, as the woodwind, brass and strings each take it in turns to pierce the earth and find sunlight.
Glazunov – The Seasons
Glazunov’s ballet The Seasons creates four tableaux based on the changing seasons, and ‘Summer’ speaks to a delightfully rural scene. As water is brought to refresh the flowers, which have been basking in the warmth of the sun, the Spirit of the Corn dances in thanksgiving. Is that the picture of summer, or what?
William Grant Still – Summerland
A gentler choice now, this heavenly work by William Grant Still – the first African American composer to conduct a major US symphony orchestra – is the second movement in a three-part solo piano suite, which tells the story of a human soul’s journey after death. If the life has been a good one, the soul may enter ‘Summerland’.
Richter – On the Nature of Daylight
Modern composer Max Richter’s deeply beautiful, reflective ‘On the Nature of Daylight’ has lent perfectly to cinematic use. A calming, contemplative work for gentle reflection, as the sun sets on the day.