Classical Music for Mom

This year, celebrate Mother’s Day with the Classical Music world. Antonín Dvořák, Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner all felt the need to share their inspiration through music and Northwest Public Radio is sharing that music with you.

Gypsy Songs: “Songs My Mother Taught Me”, Antonín Dvořák

Songs my mother taught me,

In the days long vanished;

Seldom from her eyelids

Were the teardrops banished.

Now I teach my children,

Each melodious measure.

Oft the tears are flowing,

Oft they flow from my memory’s treasure.

The lyrics make this song perfect for Mother’s day and for that, the real hero is Czech poet Adolf Heyduk. Dvorak set his words to this beautiful, slightly sad melody – part of the Gypsy Songs cycle. “Songs My Mother Taught Me” was met with success at its premiere and certainly hasn’t been forgotten since. It’s been widely recorded by both vocalists and instrumentalists – it was a favorite of Fritz Kreisler, who first transcribed the work for violin.

Siegfried Idyll, Richard Wagner 

Written for the mother of three of his five children and the woman he spent his final years with, Richard Wagner surprised his wife Cosmia with what was originally titled Tribschen Idyll. Tribschen was the name of Wagner’s home on Lake Lucerne, Switzerland – the very place Wagner presented Cosmia with the piece in celebration of her birthday and their marriage earlier that year.

A German Requiem: 5th movement, Johannes Brahms 

At first, Brahms historians insisted A German Requiem was in response to the passing of Brahms’s mother. The inspiration for Brahms’s Requiem has been the topic of much debate over the years – though now it’s generally acknowledged that the passing of his mentor and friend Robert Schumann played the most significant role.

It’s also now generally accepted that the fifth movement of the Requiem does actually draw from the memory of Brahms’s mother. The movement features a soaring, melodic solo soprano line which includes the words “I will comfort you as one whom his mother comforteth.”