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April 2014
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Earth Day 2014: A Composer’s Habitat

Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica

Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica

Song of the Earth

Composers were in to Earth Day before there ever was one—the first Earth Day was April 22, 1970. It was proposed at an UNESCO conference in 1969 by John McConnell. Senator Gaylord Nelson initiated the April 22 event. Soon Secretary General U Thant signed on to Earth Day at the United Nations.


The European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) inspired Vivaldi’s Concerto







One only has to hear Vivaldi’s Goldfinch Concerto from 1728, or selections from John Dowland’s 16th century songbooks to know that the celebration of nature is nothing new; of course it has been central to peoples throughout the world for thousands of years. Perhaps Earth Day is best described as a return to contemplating nature.


The Dolomites (Italian Alps), a favorite vacation spot of Gustav Mahler

Earth Day 2014 on WFMT

Tuesday, April 22 is Earth Day 2014. WFMT’s celebration will include Richard Strauss’s epic tone poem An Alpine Symphony (10:00 am hour); Florence Price’s Mississippi River Suite (11:00 am hour), Blumine by Gustav Mahler (around 12:30 pm), and Ottorino Respighi’s Gli Ucceli , The Birds (around 1:00 pm).


Hear Chicago Sinfonietta Music Director Mei-Ann Chen speaking about Florence Price’s Mississippi Suite after rehearsing the piece with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Chen talks about Price’s use of folksong, hymn tunes, and Price’s tone painting of the muddy, churning waters of the Mississippi.

Hear more Earth Day music during the 11:00 pm hour with Gustav Holst’s Egdon Heath and more.

Thomas Hardy’s Egdon Heath

“The untameable, Ishmaelitish thing that Egdon now was it had always been. Civilization was its enemy: and ever since the beginning of vegetation its soil had worn the same antique brown dress, the natural and invariable garment of the particular formation. In its venerable one coat lay a certain vein of satire in human vanity on clothes. A person on a heath in raiment of modern cut and colours has more or less an anomalous look. We seem to want the oldest and simplest human clothing where the clothing of the earth is so primitive.”

—Thomas Hardy from The Return of the Native which inspired Gustav Holst’s Egdon Heath