15 glorious pieces of classical music for summertime

12 June 2023, 09:18

15 glorious pieces of classical music for summertime
15 glorious pieces of classical music for summertime. Picture: Getty

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

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.

Keep cool and ring in the sun-drenched months ahead with these chilled classical melodies, courtesy of Vivaldi, Albéniz, Gershwin and more.

And for a continuous playlist of summery music, press play now on Classic FM Summertime on Global Player or join us live throughout the day for the sunniest classical melodies, in Classic FM’s Summer Full of Music.

  1. 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

    'Summer' from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons – on Bandura and Button accordion

  2. Albéniz – Asturias

    Originally written for the piano, this rhythmic flamenco-style work by Catalan composer and pianist Isaac Albéniz has become one of the most important works in the classical guitar repertoire.

    Thibaut Garcia plays Asturias from Suite Espanola

  3. 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.

    Conga de Fuego - Dudamel & Orquesta Simón Bolivar

  4. 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.

    Delius - 'On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring' - OCC

  5. 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.

    Teresa Carreño: Little Waltz (Mi Teresita)

  6. 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.

    Nadine Benjamin sings 'Summertime' with Nicole Panizza

  7. 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.

    Respighi - Pines of Rome with standing ovation!!!

  8. 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.

    Anne-Sophie Mutter - Beethoven: Romance No. 2 in F major - Manfred Honeck/Staatskapelle Berlin

  9. 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.

    Debussy: Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune ∙ hr-Sinfonieorchester ∙ Andrés Orozco-Estrada

  10. 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.

    Concierto de Aranjuez // Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Rafael de Burgos & Pepe Romero (Live)

  11. 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.

    Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night’s Dream - McGill Symphony Orchestra

  12. 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.

    The Sound of Trees: Apaisé, boisé

  13. 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?

    Glazunov: The Seasons, Op.67 - 3. Summer

  14. 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’.

    Summerland - William Grant Still

  15. 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.

    Max Richter - Richter: On The Nature Of Daylight

Listen here to Classical Summertime, our live playlist on Global Player.