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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 16, No. 5

Top Ten Musical Valentines

February 3, 2011

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Songs have been sung to loved ones since the beginning of time. Czech archeologist Bratislav Vachala discovered in Egypt what seems to be a love song, well over 4,000 years old. Dating from the period in which the pyramids were built, the song, the oldest known music written, was drawn in hieroglyphs on the wall of a nobleman’s tomb.

In that spirit, in January 2001, La Scena Musicale compiled a list of 88 classical works that one could offer to a special love as a testimony of undying passion. That list was based on the suggestions of our contributors and other specialists in the classical music field. Visitors to our Web site were then invited to vote for their 10 favourite musical works.

Top 10

9& 10)Berlioz: Le spectre de la rose (Les nuits d’été) / Puccini: Che gelida manina (La Bohème)
8) Poulenc: Les chemins de l’amour
7) Duparc: L’invitation au voyage

5 & 6) Richard Strauss: Morgen / Saint-Saëns: Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix (Samson et Dalila)
4) Schubert: Ständchen (Schwanengesang)

2 & 3) Rogers and Hart: My Funny Valentine / Clara Schumann: Liebst du um Schönheit
1) Wagner: Tristan und Isolde (Prélude)

Tristan und Isolde: About the winner

Wagner wrote, "I can’t conceive the spirit of music residing anywhere but in music. "In his mind, the line between passionate love, sensuality, ¬exaltation and sacred love is often blurred in a musical idea stronger than the sum of its parts.

Performed for the first time in 1865, Tristan und Isolde has become more or less romantic love’s ultimate reference. The use of chromaticism pushes the tonality to its limits. Seventh and ninth chords are used in the same way traditional perfect chords were used before. Dissonances never get resolved, giving an impression of endless modulation. The anxiety ¬portrayed in the music communicates the restless love between Tristan and Isolde that will in the end be resolved only by death.

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