We can find out what history’s music sounded like when we play music scores by classic composers. Thanks to the visual arts, we can also find out what making music looked like in the past! Here’s a little gallery of paintings of music and musicians, along with recordings of the kind of music that inspired each painting.
The Daughters of Catulle Mendès
In 1888, the French artist Renoir painted this portrait of sisters who play the piano and violin. These girls might like to play a piece by French composer Gabriel Fauré, called “Berceuse,” which means “Lullaby.” Fauré composed his lullaby in 1879.
The Music Lesson
This painting of a little girl taking a piano lesson was painted in America around 1895. Maybe she’s playing “Secrets” from Children’s Carnival, which American composer Amy Beach wrote for piano students in 1894.
Russian Jewish painter Marc Chagall painted this mysterious, magical violinist in 1912. Maybe the Fiddler is playing klezmer music, which is a style of Jewish instrumental music from Eastern Europe.
In 1932, the Swiss artist Paul Klee made this painting to represent how Bach’s music felt to him. “Polyphony” means many melodies at the same time, and Bach’s music is full of polyphony, like this Fugue in C Major from The Well-Tempered Clavier.