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To coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show, we've chosen the best classical pieces about buds, blossoms, and blooms, celebrating the beauty of the natural world.
One of Alan Titchmarsh's favourite flower-inspired pieces, this beautiful duet from Delibes opera Lakmé continues to be popular, after shooting into public consciousness when it was featured on the British Airways advert. At this point in the opera, Lakmé and her servant Mallika sing as they gather flowers by a river. And a fact for flower fans: this picture shows not a Flower Duet, but a 'Duet' flower - it's known as the Dahlia 'Duet' variety.
Delius moved to Paris in 1897, and, inspired by his new surroundings,his creative facility went into overdrive. He started his compositional spree with his sublime opera A Village Romeo and Juliet, which includes the brilliant orchestral interlude 'Walk to the Paradise Garden'.
Just one of the whimsical moments in Tchaikovsky's well-loved ballet, a string of beautiful flowers perform a dance. Unsurprisingly, it's one of Alan Titchmarsh's favourite pieces of music!
The striking yellow flower is the inspiration for Puccini's string quartet, Crisantemi (Chrysanthemums). Despite being known primarily for his operas, this quartet from 1890, is a fine example of the composer's chamber works.
Copland described this song, along with Les berceaux, Clair de lune as 'so beautiful, so perfect, that they have even penetrated to America'. It's one of his Quatre mélodies, Op. 39, which also includes another flowery piece, Fleur jetée.
This sublime Christmas carol is known as 'Es ist ein Ros entsprungen', with the lyrics taken from an anonymous 15th century text. Howells is but one of many composers to set the words in this beautifully understated English version, 'A Spotless Rose'.
Following movements including Mists and Dead Leaves, Bruyères (translated as Heather) is one of the 12 pieces in Debussy's Préludes for solo piano.
It's not just the tune that's beautiful in this enchanting tenor aria from Bizet's popular opera, Carmen - the lyrics are deliciously romantic too: "The flower that you had thrown me, I kept with me in prison… I became intoxicated by its fragrance…"
Down by the Salley Gardens is a well-known Irish folk song - just one of the collection arranged by Benjamin Britten, and published in 1943. Words by William Butler Yeats telling of leaves, grass, natural imagery, and a tragic story of young love bring this music to life.
This short Russian song by Borodin, transliterated as Iz slyoz moyikh (From my tears) is a setting of a poem originally used in Schumann's song cycle, Dichterliebe. "Many blooming flowers spring forth from my tears, and my sighing becomes joined with the chorus of the nightingales."
This music started life as an anonymous Elizabethan song, but takes flight in Byrd's arrangement for keyboard. The music becomes more florid as the piece goes on - that is, the tune dissolves into an impressive flurry of impressively fast finger-work for the performer.
Whoever finds the stone flower, the most beautiful pant in the world, will never be happy. That's the premise of the old Russian folk tale, from which Prokofiev took inspiration for his eighth and final ballet, written between 1948 and 1953.
An arresting eight part madrigal from Robert Pearsall, mourning the loss of a fair maiden. It's one of his most popular partsongs, composed between 1836 and 1841.
It doesn't come much more flamboyantly flowery than this waltz medley by Strauss. Composed in 1880, 'Roses from the South' takes its main musical themes from the composer's buoyant operetta, Das Spitzentuch der Königin
Peter Maxwell-Davies' wonderfully simple four-part Christmas carol uses the image of the Virgin Mary as a flower, delicate and without sin. Written in 1961, the close-knit harmonies and eerie clashing chords make for an ethereal sound.
"The rose, the lily, the dove, the sun." Glorious natural imagery from Schumann in his most famous song cycle, Dichterliebe (The Poet's Love). Beginning in month of May as the buds are springing and the sun is shining, the cycle of 16 songs uses the recurring themes of flowers, tears, and lost love - ending with the singer calling to bury his bad dreams in a huge coffin.
The flowery link here isn't in the title; it's in Mahler's precise notes written on the score for his lengthy Third Symphony. Clocking in at an impressive 90 minutes, each movement has a specific subtitle: What the Flowers in the Meadow Tell Me is the symphony's peaceful second movement.
Delicate raindrops and unexpected storms - Debussy's impressive piano piece captures an April shower and sets it to music. It's part of his 1903 piece, Estampes, and describes a garden in France being caught in the rain.
English composer George Butterworth is best known for his orchestral piece, The Banks of Green Willow, but he also set 11 of A. E. Housman's poems from A Shropshire Lad. The first of these songs describes the beautiful cherry tree in bloom.
Love and thinly veiled flower metaphors seem to be fairly common in German Romantic poetry, and this text by Goethe is no exception. A pretty red rose, representing a woman, puts up a fight after a young man threatens to pick it. Unsurprisingly, set to music by a man in 1815, the 'rose' eventually gives in to the man's advances.
Although it sounds like a traditional Scottish song, Flower of Scotland was actually written by folk singer Roy Williamson in 1965.
"Dewy, scented, pretty violets, you are standing, shy, half hidden, among the leaves." Italian Baroque composer Alessandro Scarlatti certainly knows how to write an elegant tune, exemplified in this aria from his opera Pirro e Demetrio. The dainty accompaniment paints the perfect picture of the delicate flowers described in the text.
Polish composer Mieczysaw Weinberg's Symphony No. 8 uses texts from Julian Tuwim's epic poem, Polish Flowers. The music and lyrics reflect on Poland's troubled past in this moving and powerful work.
With titles including To daffodils, Marsh flowers, and The evening primrose, Britten's Five Flower Songs have become firm favourites in the choral repertoire. He composed the pieces as a 25th anniversary present for two keen botanists, Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst of Dartington Hall.
When English composer Harry Dacre first came to the United States, he was charged import duty for a rather large piece of luggage... his bicycle. His friend remarked: "It's lucky you didn't bring a bicycle built for two, otherwise you'd have to pay double duty!" The rest is history - Dacre was so taken with the phrase "a bicycle built for two" that he incorporated it into his song, Daisy Bell, where he asks for a pretty girl's hand in marriage.