May Day, music & marmot……

May 1st always feels like the beginning of summer, of many colours green, of music and sunlight and magic. As I drove down the mountain this morning I saw a marmot running up the rocks by the side of the road. I switched on KGNU, the local radio station, and found myself in the middle of passionate and intense music. It was viscerally familiar but unidentifiable (this I so often find to be the case). I got as far as “it’s a piano trio, 19th century”….but no further before the announcer relieved me:

Smetana Piano trio in G minor

This immediately made me think of my father who, although his sympathies lay more with the 18th Century than with the excesses of the 19th, had been utterly entranced by this piece when he heard it at a concert. He gave me a vinyl record (remember those?) of it for Christmas that year.

The Irish poet & philosopher John O’Donohue wrote in Beauty: The Invisible Embrace :

There is a profound sense in which music opens a secret door in time and reaches in to the eternal. 

Music can also stir memories, good or bad, and transport you back in time.

Music embraces the whole person. It entrances the mind and the heart and its vibrations reach and touch the entire physical body.

Journal Prompt:

Think of a piece of music that could catch you by surprise when you turn on the radio.

What memories does it evoke?

Who does it remind you of?

What time in your life does it transport you back to?

As I drove down the mountain the radio informed me that in the old Celtic calendar May 1st was the first day of summer. He went on to remind us that it was also International Workers’ Day.

The next piece of music was Chopin‘s Revolutionary Etude.

Tell us what pieces of music would you choose for:

a) May Day

b) the 1st day of summer

c)International Workers’ Day

d) all of the above

4 thoughts on “May Day, music & marmot……”

  1. a: Music for May Day has to be traditional and local. I love the Cornish processional festivals. My choice is the Padstow ‘Obby ‘Oss song “Unite and unite and let us all unite . . .” This ancient, mysterious dance sends shivers up my spine, and my face runs with tears. It is glorious.

    b: The 1st day of Summer:- Helston Flora Dance, May 8th. The music must be as played by the town band, not some fancy version. Yet more tears of joy. At home in Cornwall again – where else?!

    c: International Workers Day: – Zoltan Kodaly, the Peacock Variations. All human life is there, and the finale is full of freedom & joy in humanity.

    d: All three festivals: Sibelius, the swan theme in the last movement of his 5th Symphony. In mid-April, he saw 16 swans flying and calling over a lake. The ice is melting, and the summer birds return. This music is greatly loved, yet is never a cliché. It is so true, so alive, so uplifting, so true.


    1. Jane, what a wonderful range of recommendations, thank you. Those pieces rooted in place are powerfully emotional.


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