Beautiful Winter Scenes in Classical Music

Winter is upon us, with all of it snowy landscapes and frostbit mornings. For centuries, composers have been inspired by the beauty of the season. From depicting snow covered trees to portraying the sounds of the frozen tundra, here are five pieces that will remind you of your favorite parts of winter.

Der Lindenbaum – Franz Schubert

This is from Schubert’s song cycle “Winterreise,” meaning “Winter Journey.” In this song, a beautiful evergreen tree calls out to a winter traveler, encouraging him to rest under its warm, snowy boughs. Throughout the rest of Winterreise, the traveler faces a dreary and dangerous journey, and the evergreen tree is a place of much-needed respite.


The Snow is Dancing – Claude Debussy

Debussy dedicated this piece from his six-movement piano suite “Children’s Corner” to his young daughter. Listen as the piano imitates the sounds of falling, dancing snowflakes.


Sinfonia Antartica – Ralph Vaughn Williams

Composer Vaughn Williams wrote the music for the 1947 film “Scott of the Antarctic.” He was so inspired by the theme that he turned it into a 45-minute, 5-movement symphony. Fun fact: the piece includes a part for wind machine that mimics the sound of a storm rolling across the tundra! Listen to the orchestra portray the wide open spaces and frigid scenes of the frozen continent.


Les Patineurs – Emile Waldteufel

Emile Waldteufel was inspired to write this piece as he sat in the Bois de Boulogne, a park just outside of Paris, watching ice skaters glide around a large frozen pond. As the music begins, listen to the violins “skate” up and down the scale.


Piano Etude Op. 25, No. 11 – Frederic Chopin

This etude by Chopin is also called the “Winter Wind” etude. Its fast-moving notes remind the listener of flying snowflakes and blustery wind on a cold winter day.

Now turn on the music, bundle up, and get ready to lose yourself in a winter wonderland!

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