Tag Archives: Josef Suk

September Song

Not the Weill/Anderson/Sinatra version – fine though it is – but, to end this short concert series, we have a September Song by Richard Strauss that’s nearly (or arguably, just) as famous. It’s preceded by two separate and very different musical days of high Summer, one from America, one from Bohemia; plus – in case it’s a long time before we manage to get there again – an excursion to Spain to experience the scents and sounds of warm Spanish nights.


Since we began the our Summer with music by Samuel Barber it seemed a neatness to do the same at the end. Summer Music is one of the best pieces in the woodwind quintet repertoire; it brings to mind – for me, anyway – humid afternoons somewhere in the Southern States; a rocking chair on a shady verandah, muted conversation, people dozing, children playing… mint julep, anyone?

Josef Suk’s Pohádka léta (Summer Tale) is a symphony cunningly disguised as a large tone poem. Its second movement, Poledne (Midday), like the Barber but using slightly(??) larger forces (the full late-Romantic orchestra), evokes warm Summer afternoons but now we’re in the woods and meadows of Bohemia.

Then, of course, there are the nights.

Debussy’s conjuration of the breezes, scents and languor of Spanish night (Les parfums de la nuit) forms the central section of his Ibéria, the portrait of Spain which itself forms the central panel of his three orchestral Images. Magical orchestration!

And lastly, a goodbye to Summer, courtesy of Hermann Hesse and Richard Strauss: September from the Four Last Songs.

It’s raining on the garden…

Summer smiles, amazed and exhausted,
by the dying garden dream.
Near the roses still it waits,
and, longing for rest,
slowly closes its (big) weary eyes.

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