Valentine’s Day is upon us, and regardless of your personal status, love-inspired music is always worth a listen. Many works of music – any art, really – have been inspired by love. Music connects with us emotionally, allowing ourselves to feel things we may not be able to clearly articulate. Music also has brings back memories in a powerful manner. As soon as I hear certain pieces of music, I’m brought back to memories past, but those feelings feel extremely present, such is the effect of the music. Here’s a list of seven incredibly romantic pieces of music from our archives.
Puccini – O Mio Babbino Caro. This heartfelt plea is sung by a young lady to her father, professing her love for a man from an opposing family. This storyline echos the plot for the 1985 film “A Room With a View” involving a young couple who aren’t supposed to get together. And how could Lucy resist the soul-baring gazes from George?
Rachmaninov – Piano Concerto No. 2. This is an intense, passionately lyrical work, and the slow movement – which is where this cut starts – pretty much describes a beating heart. Despite Rachmaninov’s over the top tendencies with his gushing, pulsing themes, I’ve always absolutely loved his music. This is as romantic as a Russian composer can get.
Elgar – Salut d’Amour. This is one of those familiar themes we know, but don’t recall the title and composer. This lovely gem, often played as an encore at the end of violin recitals, evokes images of flowers and chocolate bars from Trader Joe’s.
Rota – Love Theme, from Romeo and Juliet. Franco Zeffirelli’s legendary 1968 film had a dreamy, hazy quality and the music definitely measured up. Rota’s use of period instruments placed the viewers in the past of Shakespeare’s tragic love story, yet his themes are timeless. I first saw this movie has a youth, and never forgot the iconic melodies thereafter.
Mascagni – Intermezzo, from Cavalleria Rusticana. This opera is truly a soap – a young villager returns from the military to discover his fiancee married someone else; revenge, seduction, and jealousy ensue. This Intermezzo is performed next, and serves as a breather from all the drama – because afterwards, a challenge to a duel happens, some nasty ear-biting, and of course, a tragic end …..
Handel – Ombra mai fù, from Xerxes. This calm statement of love and admiration for nature could easily be euphemistic for expressing those feelings for someone you adore. It’s the kind of piece that describes that super lovely person who is there for you, a person of kindess and patience – required elements when falling in love.
Schumann – Fantasie in C Major. You can’t have love-inspired pieces without including composer Robert Schumann, who was madly in love with pianist Clara Wieck, who would later become his wife. This intensely emotional work was inspired by her, and was written under duress when they were separated for a time. The opening phrases sound very much like a palpitating heart, with many restless passages tossed in for maximum effect. If you have ever missed someone terribly when he or she is away, you will identify with this piece.
Here’s hoping your Valentine’s Day is filled with passionate music!