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Classical Music

Music In The Making: When Is The Moon Not Hungry?

When it’s full! Check out an hour of lunar music.


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Throughout the ages, the moon has been worshiped by civilizations, associated with insanity and lycanthropy, and inspired art. This past Sunday, you could see the full moon for yourself, and this week’s episode celebrates the view with lunar-related music.

Moon Music
Anya Wilkening
Moon Music

Frederic Chopin: Nocturne in E flat Major, Bela Bartok: The Night’s Music, and Edvard Grieg: Notturno
Jon Kimura Parker
Duncan Recital Hall

The term “Nocturne” is frequently used by composers to describe a composition evocative of nighttime. Frederic Chopin was prolific in this genre, writing 21 of these slow, melodic pieces. Edvard Grieg was similarly inspired; in his 66 Lyric Pieces for Piano, he offers “Notturno,” a dream-like miniature. Later, in the 20th century, Bartok became famous for writing more modern “Night Music,” music which not only captures a nocturnal atmosphere, but also the more literal sounds of the night. For instance, in “The Night’s Music,” from his set of piano pieces titled, “Out of Doors,” one can hear the chirping of crickets and bird calls.

Benjamin Britten
Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten: Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes
Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra; Larry Rachleff, conductor
Stude Concert Hall

Few composers were as preoccupied by night as Benjamin Britten, who once confessed to an interviewer, “But night and dreams – I have had a strange fascination by that world since a very early age.” Throughout his career, he explored these concepts in several large scale works as well as in smaller pieces. In “Four Sea Interludes,” extracted from his opera Peter Grimes, Britten sonically depicts the ever-changing nature of the ocean. The third of these pieces, called “Moonlight,” paints the image of the serene sea at night.

Portrait of Beethoven
Library of Congress
Portrait of Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27 No. 2, “Moonlight”
Anton Kuerti
Moores Opera House

Beethoven’s Sonata No. 14 in C sharp major is better known today by its subtitle, “Moonlight.” Beethoven, however, never heard this appellation: it was attached to the work five years after his death by the German poet Ludwig Rellstab, who likened the first movement to the image of a boat floating on Lake Lucerne by moonlight. The sonata, though, is equally notable for the description bestowed upon it by Beethoven: quasi una fantasia. In this work, Beethoven frees himself from the strict rigor of Sonata form, and instead indulges in improvisitory flights of fantasy

This episode originally aired Sunday, October 16th, 2016. Catch Music in the Making every Sunday at 7:06 PM on Classical.