The Sounds and Sights of Summer

Summer is a great season for spending time outside. When you go out in summer, what do you hear? Do you hear the sound of wind, or buzzing little bugs? There’s a lot to see, too: like the brightness of the sun, or the shimmering of water.  

Artists and composers love to capture the season of summer in their creations. Here are some pieces of music, and some paintings, full of the sights and sounds of summer. 

A Summer Day

This piece of music is by the American composer Emma Lou Diemer. It’s part of a Suite for Violin and Piano that she wrote in 2008, and it’s called “Summer Day.” It’s a bright and cheerful piece of music. What kind of summer day do you imagine when you listen?

Artists love to imagine summer days, too. This painting called Landscape in Summer is by the French artist Pierre Emmanuel Damoye. He imagined a summer day with fluffy clouds, green grass, and a happy cow grazes.

Landscape in Summer by Pierre Emmanuel Damoye
Public domain. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Buzzing Bugs

American composer Amy Beach imagined a crowd of buzzing katydids – chattery bugs that sing all night long in the summer in New England. This music is part of a piano duet she wrote called Summer Dreams. Can you hear the insistent bugs in the music, singing “Katy Did! Katy Did!”?

This painting by Japanese artist Mori Shunkei also features a noisy summertime bug: a cricket! This cricket seems to be singing to a frog, who is listening very thoughtfully.

Frog and Cricket by Mori Shunkei
Public domain. Courtesy of RISD Museum.

Shimmering Water

This piece of music, by American composer Jennifer Higdon, has a beautiful title that paints a picture on its own: it’s called Summer Shimmers across the Glass of Green Ponds. The composer wrote it for a unique set of instruments: two violins, a viola, and a cello, plus a pianist playing with their left-hand only! When you listen, can you hear the shimmering water and imagine the glassy green pond?

The French artist, Claude Monet, also loved shimmering ponds. This green and glassy-looking painting is one of many he made of the water lily pond in his garden. Can you imagine the sounds of the pond in this painting?

Waterlilies by Claude Monet
Public domain. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Heat of the Sun

July is the name of this piano piece. The German composer Fanny Hensel wrote it as part of a set of pieces about every month in the year. The composer added a little bit of poetry to her score, so we’d know exactly what image of July she painted: heat! The quote says, “The meadows thirst for livening dew…” Have you ever seen a meadow that’s so dry and hot, it seems to be thirsty?

This painting is called The Harvesters, by the Dutch artist Pieter Breughel the Elder. Look how hot and tired these hard-working harvesters are! Some are bending down to gather grain, some are eating under the shade of a tree, and one man has stretched out for a nap!

The Harvesters by Pieter Breughel the Elder
Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A Land of Summer

Another fantastic summer piece is written by African-American composer William Grant Still wrote Summerland to paint a musical picture of a perfect world. He imagined a place where everyone is valued by their courage, and who they are on the inside – not by the color of their skin. To express this beautiful world, the composer chose a title that suggests a land where it’s always summer. 

So, what do you think a land of eternal summer would look like? Maybe it would look a little bit like this painting by African-American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner. He painted it on the northern coast of France, where he and his family stayed every summer.

Coastal Landscape, France by Henry Ossawa Tanner
Public domain. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.