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Music Inspired by Poetry - "Les Eolides"

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"Oh, floating breezes of the sky, sweet breaths of the fair Spring that caress the hills and plains with freshest kisses."

Leconte de Lisle's poem "Les Eolides" captures an idyllic view of spring, with breezes rustling through trees and meadows alike. In the poem, de Lisle speaks of the daughters of the Winds from ancient Greek mythology. What a combination - a yearning for spring, and Greek mythology. No wonder French composer Cesar Franck was so taken with it. It inspired him to write music that he hoped would capture in little black notes the same feeling as the descriptive words of the poem. Franck's "Les Eolides" was written in 1877 and was one of his first "symphonic poems."

April is National Poetry Month. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the designation, and it struck me how many pieces have been inspired by the written word, especially poetry.   We've heard of stories, plays, and novels inspiring music, from fairy tales to Shakespeare to War and Peace. We've heard of paintings inspiring music - Respighi's "Three Botticelli Pictures" comes immediately to mind. But I wonder how many folks would think that so many of the pieces we know and love were also inspired by poems?

All through the month, check back here to see examples of the poetry that inspired great music. Meantime, see if you think Franck was able to capture de Lisle's spring breezes in his homage, "Les Eolides."

Laura Carlo is the Morning Program Host for CRB.