In honour of Valentine’s Day, we thought we would explore something a little different. Today we celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving cards or flowers to the ones we love, but what about the love stories behind some of classical music’s greatest names?
Letters of Love
One of history’s most prolific composers comes to mind when we think of grand romantic gestures: Beethoven. After his death in 1827, 3 letter of love were found amongst his personal possessions. The unnamed recipient? Immortal Beloved. To this day, the unnamed woman’s identity remains a mystery.
12 years before writing these letters, Beethoven met and fell in love with Giulietta Guicciardi – an Austrian countess, and briefly a student of Beethoven’s. A year after meeting, Beethoven composed one of the most romantic piano pieces in history: The Moonlight Sonata, dedicated to Guicciardi. Although they planned to marry, they were unable to because Guilietta’s father didn’t approve. She went onto marry, but Beethoven never did.
Hear the music: The Moonlight Sonata
Perhaps one of the most incredible romances in the world of classical music was that of Robert and Clara Schumann. They first met and fell in love in 1836 but didn’t marry until 1840 because of her father’s adamant refusal. During these years, Schumann courted Clara through secret love letter and rendezvous. On the year they finally married, Robert wrote 168 love songs in celebration of his marital bliss.
As their family grew, Robert composed Kinderszenen or Scenes from Childhood, as a set of piano pieces dedicated to his children to express the excitement, curiosity, popular games and dreams of children.
When Robert died in 1856, Clara dedicated the rest of her life to performing his music and keeping his legacy alive. In 1983, a film was released titled Frühlingssinfonie, portraying their endearing story
Hear the music: Kinderszenen or Scenes from Childhood
Tokens of Love
Perhaps one of Britain’s most revered composers from the romantic era was Sir Edward Elgar. After leaving school in 1872, Elgar worked as a clerk in a solicitor’s office but after a few months left to pursue his career in music. By the age of 29, Elgar was a well-established musician and teacher in Birmingham and Worcester. It was also during this time he met and fell in love with acclaimed English author, Caroline Alice Roberts.
By 1888, they were engaged. Discontented with mere rings to celebrate their engagement, they exchanged artistic gifts too. Wife-to-be Alice, had written Edward a poem which he immediately set to music. Elgar’s gift to Alice was a musical token of love, and to this day remains one of his best-known works, entitled Liebesgruss meaning Love’s greeting.
Elgar sent a few versions this piece to Schott’s publishers who gave him two guineas for it but published it under the title of Salut D’Amour, calling him Ed. Elgar in hope that if he sounded less English they would sell more, and they did. Sadly, Elgar only ever received his two guineas.
Hear the music: Salut D’amour
During this half-term, we’re giving your children the opportunity to explore different styles of music through lots of instruments at our half-term holiday camps. Find out more about what’s in your area.