Good Morning: Songs to Wake Up To

What music do you associate with the dawn of a new day? Works that is refreshing and light, like the first rays of the sun peeking through a canopy where the birds sing? For me, ‘Morning’ from Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 and Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne set the mood for the morning with their effortlessly beautiful melodies.

‘Morning Mood’ from Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 by Edvard Grieg

Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) is Norway’s most famous musical son. From an early age, he was a highly proficient pianist, studying first in Leipzig before moving to Copenhagen. Norwegian folk music was an important part of Grieg’s compositions, with many of his works containing soaring tunes that evoke his Norwegian home. Morning from Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 was written to create a musical mood. The work got its title from a Scandinavian play, Peer Gynt written by the playwright Henry Ibsen who asked Grieg to set it to music. The composer responded by creating a collection of melodies, which later formed two separate suites. Both were well received by the Norwegian audience of his day. ‘Morning’ from Suite No. 1, in particular, has stood the test of time as one of the loveliest tune ever written by Grieg.

‘Songs of the Auvergne: Baïlèro’ by Joseph Canteloube
“I roamed through farms and villages listening to the songs of the country folk — old men and women, shepherds and shepherdesses in the fields, farm-labourers and harvesters at their work”

— Joseph Canteloube

Auvergne in south central France inspired the composer Joseph Canteloube (1879-1957) to write his well-loved Songs of the Auvergne for soprano and orchestra. Born in the town of Annoay in the Auvergne, Canteloube first encountered the local dances and folksongs as a boy, on long walks through the countryside with his father. He was so smitten with the region that he had his first six years of composition lessons by correspondence, rather than moving to Paris. Songs of the Auvergne comprises five books of songs written over a period of more than 30 years. The tunes are traditional melodies, with words in the local language, Occitan. Canteloube composed all the songs for orchestral accompaniments to capture the atmosphere of the time and place in which the songs were traditionally sung. The best known of his songs is the “Baïlèro”, which has been frequently recorded.

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