Depending on where you live, it’s now either the end of summer, the prelude to the end of summer, or the buildup to the prelude to the end of summer.
We hear the pitter-pat of little feet returning to school. We’ll soon see the changing of the leaves. We have a vague sense that it’s time to get more accomplished at work (there are actually people in those previously empty cubicles, you know).
If you’re like me, you use music to stay energized and productive during certain stretches of the workday. Have you considered incorporating some classical into the mix? It’s a great way to engage the ear without distracting the mind.
But don’t just pop any old classical CD into your optical drive. Just as you probably wouldn’t cook a pot roast in July, you’ll want to consider the weather when you select a classical album.
Here are some ideas on good classical composers and pieces for summer:
- Aaron Copland: Copland is definitely summer music because it’s mostly cowboy music, and I’m pretty sure the cowboys hibernated in winter. Try listening to the “Saturday Night Waltz” from Rodeo on the last day of summer as you sip mojitos and sob.
- George Gershwin: This may be unfair, but when you write a song as famous as “Summertime,” you’re going to get labeled a summer guy.
- Samuel Barber’s Summer Music: This one is kind of a gimme.
- Johann Strauss, Jr.: Poor Johann. He’s constantly getting programmed on summer pops concerts. But at least he still gets played, which is more than one can say for his contemporaries, the Schrammel brothers.
- Darius Milhaud: If you’re looking for “tastes great, less filling” classical, Milhaud is your guy. You’ll experience some hummable tunes that don’t ask too much of you—which is perfect when it’s 102 degrees.
- Olivier Messiaen: Messiaen had a real thing for birdsongs, and birds don’t sing much in winter.
- Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Michael Tippett: I include them because they were English, and you wouldn’t want to visit England in any season but summer.
And here are some suggestions for winter:
- The Symphonies of Anton Bruckner: Classical music doesn’t get much wintrier than this. If you insist on listening to Bruckner in the summer, please wait 30 minutes after the end of a symphony before attempting to swim.
- Anything by Maurice Ravel: Ravel isn’t winter music as such, but rather, rainy day music. If you live in Seattle, and it’s August, but it’s drizzly and 68 for the high, you’re well within your rights to listen to Ravel. You also have great coffee constantly at your disposal. (And I sort of hate you for that.)
- Jean Sibelius: He was a Finn.
- Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 (“Winter Dreams”): I can’t believe I’m recommending early Tchaikovsky. But it may just get you into a wintry mood.
- Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations: Elgar wrote this piece in tribute to a bunch of his weird friends. What better piece to prepare you for those holiday gatherings?
Fall is fast approaching, so start swapping out those CDs and iPod playlists now. Trust me, there’s nothing more embarrassing than getting caught listening to Ferde Grofe’s Grand Canyon Suite in December (or any other time). And doesn’t every marketing professional need a little inspiration to keep the creativity flowing in the inevitably-insanely-busy final months of the calendar year?