Every day I open the Kindle app on my iPad, read the day's entry from Year of Wonder, listen to the music, and then sit back in awe over the richness and diversity of music history. That has been my routine since New Year's Day (yes, it was a resolution).
In Year of Wonder, Clemency Burton-Hill describes one piece of music for each day of the year. Her descriptions generally take less than five minutes to read and the music takes less than ten minutes to hear. If you want to know more than what Burton-Hill describes, a quick online search can take you to other resources. If you want to hear more of the music, you will more than likely be able to find it through online streaming. (I recommend Spotify.)
A day-by-day devotion to Year of Wonder exposes you to a tremendous diversity of composers and styles of music. In short, the world of classical music contains much more than the compositions of dead European males. I always knew this, but Burton-Hill’s book has allowed me to experience what this means in a way that I have absorbed the lesson well.
If I may, I'd like to make a suggestion. Take a break and listen to the music from Year of Wonder. Rather than saying, "Stop and smell the roses," I prefer to say, "Stop and listen to the music.” Burton-Hill’s Year of Wonder does a terrific job mixing well-known classical masterworks with lesser known, and sometimes obscure, works. All told, a trip through her book will provide many moments of pleasure and the type of inspiration that can only come from listening to music.
I have embedded a Spotify playlist for next month’s recommendations from Burton-Hill’s book. I have also embedded videos from this month to provide a sampling of what’s in Burton-Hill’s book.
Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor, Fourth Movement
Performed by Claudio Abbado conducting the Lucerne Festival Orchestra
Scott Joplin, Gladiolus Rag
Performed by Joshua Rifkin, piano
George Gershwin, Porgy and Bess, “Bess, you is my woman now”
Performed by Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis
Emahoy Tsequé-Maryam Guèbrou, The Homeless Wanderer
Performed by the composer
Maria Szymanowska, Nocturne
Performed by Roberto Piana, pianoforte
Johann Sebastian Bach, “Chaconne” from Partiat No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004
Performed by Bella Hristova, violin
Francisco Tárrega, Gran Vals
Performed by David Steinhardt, guitar