Mother’s Day is the time of year when we celebrate the women who gave each of us the gift of life. For most of us, that means picking up her favorite flowers or another thoughtful gift; however, composers can do one better. That’s why we’ve gathered five works of classical music written for or inspired by the composers’ mothers:
1. Dvořák – “Songs My Mother Taught Me”
Written in 1880, “Songs My Mother Taught Me” is the fourth of seven songs from Dvořák’s song cycle, Gypsy Songs. It has received widespread acclaim due to its pleasant melody and emotional lyrics. The song is a meditation on the value of motherhood and the passing of the torch from generation to generation, making it uniquely suited to the spirit of Mother’s Day.
2. Robert Schumann – Fraunliebe und -leben
This song cycle, which translates to “A Woman’s Love and Life,” is a series of eight poems set by Schumann which tell the story of the life of a young girl as she enters into adulthood and maturity. One song in particular, “An meinem Herzen, an meiner Brust” (“On my Heart, on my Breast”), speaks to the unique joys of becoming a mother and the happiness that arises out of the relationship between mother and child.
3. Edvard Grieg – “A Mother’s Grief”
As the name implies, Grieg’s underrated work deals with the unanticipated sense of loss that can come with being a mother. This serene piece underscores the importance of and the struggles inherent to motherhood.
4. Richard Strauss – “Muttertändelei”
Strauss’ song for voice and piano, “Muttertändelei,” is another excellent work which celebrates the bond between mothers and their children. In it, the mother praises her child and claims she would not give it away for a “hundred billion dollars.” The song was written two years after Strauss’ wife Pauline gave birth to their son; apparently, Pauline loved the piece so much that she refused to let the original manuscript leave the house.
5. Brahms – “Brahms’ Lullaby”
Brahms’ “Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, gute Nacht,” more commonly known as “Brahms’ Lullaby,” is perhaps one of the best known melodies in the world. The soothing song has long been used by mothers to lull their children to sleep. When it was written, Brahms dedicated it to his close friend, Bertha Faber, shortly after the birth of her second son. The simple melody is a reminder of the unbreakable bond between mother and child.
You can’t go wrong with these five classics for Mother’s Day. Share them with your mom, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more.
Over the past 34 years, MidAmerica Productions has produced over 1300 concerts in Carnegie Hall and at historic halls all over the world. To have your ensemble perform in Carnegie Hall or internationally, call us at 212-239-0205 or visit us at www.midamerica-music.com.