Love Expressed through Music

‘Tis the season to celebrate love, and here on ICAN Radio, one of our favorite ways to express love is through music. Music has always played an essential role in communicating big feelings. We’d love to share some of our favorite heartfelt tunes with you. While writing your valentines and/or eating your candy hearts, enjoy these songs to celebrate affection for those you hold dear.

“Widmung” (Dedication) by Robert Schumann

German composer Robert Schumann wrote “Widmung” (the German word for “Dedication”) during his “Year of Song.” In 1840, Robert Schumann married the love of his life, Clara Wieck, and experienced an outpouring of creativity throughout the rest of the year. This song was included as a set of songs presented to Clara as a wedding gift. Clara later arranged “Widmung” for solo piano, so it’s safe to say that this song represented something special in the couple’s relationship. You can read an English translation of the poem by Friedrich Rückert here.

“Un sonnet d’amour” (A Love Sonnet) from Petite Suite de Concert by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Samuel Coleridge Taylor was an English composer of African heritage who composed many beloved works, from serious to lighthearted. “Un sonnet d’amour” (A Love Sonnet) would fall into the latter category. This movement from the Petite Suite is a short and sweet serenade for orchestra with a gentle melody that lingers even after the music has ended.

The Butterfly Lovers by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao

The Butterfly Lovers is a violin concerto written by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao when the two were students at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. The inspiration for the work is a folk tale called “The Butterfly Lovers,” dating back to the 9th or 10th century. The story follows Liang and Zhu, star-crossed lovers who couldn’t be together in life but are reunited in death when they are reborn as butterflies. One interesting feature of The Butterfly Lovers is that the composers wrote the solo violin part to resemble a Chinese string fiddle called an erhu.

Confesión (Confession) by Agustín Barrios Mangoré

Agustín Barrios Mangoré was a classical guitarist and composer from Paraguay who wrote over 300 songs. He was famous not only for his timeless music but also for his virtuosic performances. Confesión (Confession), also referred to as “Confession of Love,” is a dreamy guitar piece known as a “romanza,” a genre of songs that are slow(ish) and melodic. One unusual aspect of this song is that the composer wrote the melody in the bass register with the harmony in the upper register—the reverse is much more common in songwriting.

Liebestraum No. 3 (Dream of Love) by Franz Liszt

Liebestraum means “dream of love” in German, and this piece for piano by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt is precisely that. Its sweeping melody sounds like a love song without words. Liebestraum No. 3 is filled with emotion, from passionate outbursts to gentle whispers – romantic indeed! Fun fact: Liszt’s three Liebestraum piano pieces were initially written as songs for voice and piano. You can read an English translation of Ferdinand Freiligrath’s poem accompanying Liebestraum No. 3 here.