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Classical 101

Classical Music for Memorial Day from NPR

A sailor pays his respects to a fallen service member buried at the Brookwood American Cemetery and Memorial in Brookwood, England.
Navy Visual News Service
/
Flickr Creative Commons
A sailor pays his respects to a fallen service member buried at the Brookwood American Cemetery and Memorial in Brookwood, England.

As we head into the fun and (hopefully) sun of the Memorial Day weekend, it's also good to pause and reflect on the paradoxical nature of the holiday, as was pointed out to me in this NPR article, Classical Music Memorials, by Richard Knisely.  

The bitter-sweet feelings of greeting the life all around us at the beginning of summer and the lush season of growth, while reflecting on loved ones lost, is well expressed by the music Knisely selected from these diverse composers with their unique inspirations .

Two of the works selected are inspired by poems of Walt Whitman reflecting on the era of the Civil War, The Wound Dresser by John Adams and When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd, by Paul Hindemith.

The War Requiem of Benjamin Britten from 1962, was written to consecrate the new Coventry Cathedral in England, which was destroyed in World War Two and is based on poems from the First world War by Wilfred Owen.

The two mostly instrumental selections, Le tombeau de Couperin of Marice Ravel and the Pastoral Symphony of Ralph Vaughan Williams (with solo soprano voice in the last movement) are also inspired in part by "The War to End All Wars" and have a more enigmatic nature.  It's music that evokes a wistful, peaceful, sometimes even positive feeling, yet contains undercurrents of a more uncertain nature that hints at loss.

If you are not familiar with these musical works inspired by loss associated with war, consider giving them at least a sampling before becoming completely immersed in the "Happy Days" of summer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rl9Jc4ni1yA