Treat the mother figures in your life to a bouquet of beautiful music this Mother‘s Day! This playlist celebrates motherhood‘s many forms in classical music, featuring pieces dedicated to mothers, about mothers, and by mothers for their children.
“Songs My Mother Taught Me”
– Antonín Dvořák
Achingly beautiful and heart-wrenching, Dvořák’s “Songs My Mother Taught Me” comes from the song cycle Gypsy Songs. When the narrator’s mother taught her to sing as a child, tears would often spring to her eyes – and now that she is teaching her own children to sing, she understands why.
“Mother to Son”
– Undine Smith Moore
Undine Smith Moore’s evocative choral setting is the perfect match for Langston Hughes’ famous words of encouragement from mother to son: “Well, son, I’ll tell you: / Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.”
Pictured: Professor Undine Smith Moore by Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use.
– Richard Strauss
Proud moms, you’ll relate to this one. Strauss’ “Muttertändelei” (“Mother-talk”) gives a mother’s perspective on her child’s best qualities: “Just look at my lovely child! / Not too moody, not too choosy, / Always friendly, always happy! / Folks, do you have such a child? / No, folks, you don’t!”
“Empress of Night”
– Amy Beach
Depicting a powerful empress responsible for the beauty of daybreak, Amy Beach dedicated the song “Empress of Night” to her mother, Clara Cheney. Beach later incorporated the melody into her Piano Concerto’s Scherzo.
“Oh Yemanja (Mother’s Prayer)” from Scourge of Hyacinths
– Tania León
Tania León’s opera Scourge of Hyacinths follows Miguel, a falsely accused prisoner, as he awaits sentencing. The aria “Oh Yemanja (Mother’s Prayer)” poignantly illustrates the depths of maternal love as Miguel’s mother prays for his protection.
– Edvard Grieg
Grandmothers deserve to feel the love on Mother’s Day, too! This sweet minuet comes from Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, a collection of 66 short pieces for piano.
“Kleiner Walzer (Mi Teresita)”
– Teresa Carreño
Teresa Carreño dedicated this playful piece to her young daughter, Teresita Tagliapietra, who would later follow in her mother’s footsteps to pursue a career as a concert pianist.