This next piece is not one that the Philharmonic performs, but rather one that is important to Olivia’s music nerd friend, Henry. It’s a piece he listens to frequently and has special meaning for him. I can’t say much more about that without ruining Henry’s backstory for you. But! I can share with you this gorgeous piece of music, the second movement of Beethoven’s 7thSymphony. Seriously, close your eyes and let this gorgeous, bittersweet music sweep over you, and feel your soul soar. (Cheesy, but true. Seriously.)
Pines of Romeby Ottorino Respighi is one of my favorite pieces, along with its less famous and less often performed companion pieces, Fountains of Rome and Roman Festivals. The third movement of Pines, “Pines of the Janiculum,” is an absolutely gorgeous piece of music. I often listen to it with my eyes closed and let myself get swept away on its sumptuous melodic lines. (You might recognize some of this movement from the flying whales sequence of Fantasia 2000.) The Philharmonic performs this piece in January, and during one of the rehearsals, Olivia and Henry sit in the audience listening, Olivia with her sketchbook and Henry with his homework. As the music washes over them, Olivia imagines herself flying through “a dark, cool forest of pines, drifting lazily through the branches like a bird, like the wind, like a ghost . . . ” It is then that Olivia has an epiphany and figures out an important piece of information regarding the ghosts Tillie and Jax. Of course, you’ll have to read the book to find out what that is!
In February, the Philharmonic performs pieces appropriate for Valentine’s Day (and also appropriate, tragically, given the failed marriage of Olivia’s parents and the lovelorn state of the Maestro). One of those Valentine’s Day pieces is Tchaikovsky’s (can you tell I like him?) Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture, which tells the story of Romeo and Juliet in gloriously romantic fashion. The Philharmonic performs Romeo and Juliet during one of the first concerts during which the ghosts begin haunting the audience, creating a sensation Olivia hopes will save the orchestra. As Olivia, Henry, and their friend Joan watch the ghosts carry out their rehearsed haunting strategy, Olivia and Joan, on the catwalk, look down and see the audience being swept away by the music. It’s a moment during which Olivia starts to rediscover her love of music and of the orchestra, something she never thought she could find again. She describes it thusly:
Have you ever watched people when they don’t know you’re watching them? Like in a movie theater or a concert. When people get caught up in watching something, their faces change. The lines on their faces get softer, because whatever they’re watching has made them forget how they think they’re supposed to be looking. Instead they just are—just sitting there, listening and watching and being real.
Goosebumps broke out on my skin. It was about four minutes into Romeo and Juliet, when those spooky notes start out low in the strings and then drift up high, and the harp floats right on top of it.
I love this piece. It’s one of my favorites, and when I was in the University of North Texas Symphoy Orchestra during music school, I got to perform it! It was one of the most magical performances of my musical career. Just listen to this gorgeousness:
The final piece of the Philharmonic’s performance year was not a part of their original schedule, but the orchestra ends up performing it because of . . . reasons I cannot divulge here. Spoiler alert, mwahaha! Mahler’s Symphony no. 2, known as “The Resurrection,” is a powerhouse of a symphony, requiring a huge orchestra and choir, and requiring tremendous stamina from its musicians, as it is about an hour and a half long. This is perhaps my absolute favorite piece of orchestral music. It’s just so epic, a mammoth meditation on death and the afterlife, at once frightening and reassuring, despairing and jubilant—quite appropriate for The Year of Shadows, both literally (ghosts) and thematically (the death and rebirth of Olivia’s hope and relationship with her father). The fifth movement is especially incredible, typically lasting over half an hour. If you want to get a taste of the symphony but don’t have time to sit through the entire 90-minute recording, I suggest starting to listen at about 54:25, or if you don’t have that much time either, start at about 1:20:00. Oh, and turn your speakers way, way up. Trust me. It’ll be worth it.
I hope you enjoyed learning about and listening to some of the orchestral music featured in The Year of Shadows! Don’t forget to check out the appendix at the back of the book for a complete list of the Philharmonic’s concert schedule so you can discover even more wonderful pieces of music!
And, of course, don’t forget to fill out the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win a copy of the book! Thank you for stopping by!
About the Author:
Claire Legrand used to be a musician until she realized she couldn’t stop thinking about the stories in her head. Now a writer, Ms. Legrand can often be found typing with purpose at her keyboard, losing herself in the stacks at her local library, or embarking upon spontaneous adventures to lands unknown. Her first novel is THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS, a New York Public Library Best Book for Children in 2012. Her second novel, THE YEAR OF SHADOWS, releases August 27, 2013, with her third novel, WINTERSPELL, to follow in fall 2014. She is one of the four authors behind THE CABINET OF CURIOSITIES, an anthology of dark middle grade fiction due out in July 2014 from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins. Claire lives in New Jersey with a dragon and two cats. Visit her at claire-legrand.com and at enterthecabinet.com.
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