Literature and classical music have been connected since the dawn of civilization. Although folk music tradition is quite ancient, the development of written music notation began during the Middle Ages and blossomed in the Renaissance period.
During this era, many forms of literature flourished as well, such as lyric poetry and narrative tales. Alongside this revival of book knowledge, composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach began to produce some of their most iconic compositions. Indeed, it could be argued that literary works provide a kind of structure to which certain types of classical pieces conform, such as symphonies or ballets.
As these two forms of expression evolved together over time, they developed an inherent bond between them that may be impossible to fully explain – perhaps literature and classical music share a special part in human culture that daily life just cannot replicate.
Similarities and differences between classical music and literature․
Literature and classical music have a deep connection, both within and outside of their art forms. While music does so through sonic vibrations, literature has a more powerful impact by conveying meaning, emotion and stories through words and texts.
Even though both these forms of art evoke meaningful responses from us and would be cherished for all times to come, for time immemorial neither of them have been able to fight the ravages of time. The only tangible element left behind from them is our emotions connected with them that remain in our hearts forever.
The difference between classical music and literature is undeniable in various aspects.
• Classical music needs a certain tune to make it complete, while literature does not require any melody to be understood and enjoyed.
• While classical music is composed of multiple tones developed into a structure, literature’s core is mainly composed of words that are strung together to create coherent thoughts.
• The form of expression for both classical music and literature also vary drastically; by integrating the audible aspects in classical music such as rhythm and beat, the composer conveys their message more effectively than the use of words in literature. Literature’s form of expression instead presents emotion through subtle word choice and cadence to help the reader form an image in their mind.
Although there are differences between classical music and literature, both art forms strive to create a powerful story or message that captivates any audience who experiences it.
Types of classical music and literature
Popular classical piano pieces are among the most beloved of all classical music. From Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata to Chopin’s Waltz in A-flat Major, composers throughout history have written some of the most enduring and popular works for the piano.
Emma Skrzynecki captured one such piano piece in her poem ‘Piano’, in which she compares each of her grandmother’s compositions to a different era in history, showing how music can transport us back in time. It is this power of classical music and literature that allows us to tap into another world. Whether listening to it or reading about it, exploring its different forms can be a humbling experience – and we are lucky to have been gifted the works so we can continue learning from them today.
Classical music inspired by books
Popular classical piano songs are known for their timeless beauty, often composed centuries ago. Many of these songs were in fact inspired by literature– sometimes modified and renamed, other times plays on a recognizable character or theme.
Popular pieces like Grieg’s “Solveig’s Song” from Peer Gynt, Tchaikovsky’s ballet for Sleeping Beauty (based on the classic work by Charles Perrault), Franz Schubert’s “Lied der Mignon” from Goethe’s “Wilheim Meister” and even Jonathon Dove’s piano piece entitled “The Book Thief Journeys and Memories” draw creative inspiration from literature. Music has long been able to capture powerful themes of love, loss, excitement, desire and adventure – allowing each literary work to live on through this powerful medium.
The Book Thief
The Book Thief, a stunning novel by Markus Zusak, has been adapted yet again-this time into a powerful musical piece. This beautiful adaptation, composed by Lauryn Walden and John Watson, is striking in its complexity.
Suddenly, the same words that had been read become felt when they are presented through music, and listeners can fully experience the sorrows and joys of this story. The painful moments of Liesel’s life stand side-by-side with these hopeful ones; her desperate sense of loss lives within this song. Yet in contrast with the heartache depicted in Zusak’s original work, it conveys new meaning through its soundscape. Here is a story worth hearing once more: a tribute to one of literature’s most profound works.
Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault
Charles Perrault’s classic tale of Sleeping Beauty has been enchanting audiences for centuries, but it wasn’t until the 1900s that its popularity reached a new level as famous composer
Pyotr Tchaikovsky became inspired to turn the story into an opera. His classic piece brings Perrault’s plot to life with beautiful music and entrancing choreography, enlivening the tale even more than the original version. In his own unique way, Tchaikosvky managed to capture all of the emotions that are integral to the story: love, longing, anguish, sorrow, joy and hope — creating a timeless work of art that will continue to inspire future generations.
Harry Potter (1997-2007) by J.K. Rowling
When J.K. Rowling initially published Harry Potter in 1997, the series was a smash success and over the next 10 years her story of magic captivated readers across the globe. In 2008, composer John Williams was commissioned to create a symphonic suite that captured the entire book series.
Williams chose to include memorable themes from both the books and movies that followed as he composed a truly unique and unforgettable piece of music. He chose instrumental themes such as “Hedwig’s Theme” and “Double Trouble” joined with aspects of his own orchestrated scoring from all eight of the film scores to create the Harry Potter symphony suite. For many fans, this symphony blurs the line between fantasy and reality—bringing J.K Rowling’s vision to life through music.
It is interesting to think about how different types of art can be related. After looking at the similarities and differences between literature and classical music, it seems that they are more related than one would initially think. While they have their own unique features, there are also many ways in which they overlap. If you enjoy both literature and classical music, keep an eye out for these relations the next time you experience either one!