"I paint what I see," said Gahan Wilson, intending a joke about his macabre cartoons, but it does seem that all artists paint, write, dance or compose what they see, or what affects them, or what they like, and most composers, like most humans, like spring.
Even the neurotic Mahler enjoyed composing the sort of happy pastoral music that might have turned up in one of the Beethoven country dances, and the play of the light on a sunny spring day seems to have fascinated composers as much as painters.
Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, subtitled "Pastoral," a word that comes from the word "pasture," depicts a brief cloudburst and happy peasants. Glazunov and Vaughan Williams also wrote "Pastoral" Symphonies (Seven and Three, respectively), and we find a "Pastorale" in Debussy's chamber music.
Chabrier wrote a "Suite Pastorale," from which I'll excerpt "Idyll," and Bloch did a "Pastorale and Rustic Dances," while Lili Boulanger wrote "A Morning in Spring," and Schumann composed a piano piece called "Friendly Landscape," from "Forest Scenes."
On this weekend's public radio show, I'll also excerpt two symphonies from Franz Schmidt that seem redolent of the season, and some dances of Malcolm Arnold that have that same feeling.
Howard's Day Off airs 5am-7am Saturdays on KHPR Honolulu, KKUA Wailuku and KANO Hilo, and streams on http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com . Max Cacas of Washington D.C. founded the Howard's Day Off Listener Appreciation Society on Facebook.