11 Pieces of Classical Music Inspired by the Outdoors

Explore the outdoors with this Spotify playlist. Hear the sounds of animals, of sun-spotted forests, of running brooks, and more. Read on to find out more! 

Camille Saint-Saens – Carnival of the Animals: L’Elephant 

Carnival of the Animals is a great piece of music for kids because it’s so easy to hear how the music relates to the animals in the scenes they were written about. Talk to your child(ren) about what the composer did to make this piece sound like big, stomping elephants. 

Ferde Grofe – Grand Canyon Suite: On the Trail 

The title of this piece tells you exactly what it’s about! Listen for the clip-clopping donkeys as they descend into the canyon. Make the music come to life by pretending to bounce on braying donkeys as you listen to the music with your kids . 

Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony No. 6 ‘Pastoral’: Movement 1 

This Beethoven symphony is titled the ‘Pastoral’ symphony as each movement is about a scene from the German countryside. This first movement is about the “awakening of cheerful feelings on arrival in the countryside.” 


Richard Strauss – An Alpine Symphony: Auf dem Gipfel (On the Summit)

Alpine Symphony is a tone poem, a piece of music that illustrates the content of a poem, short story, or another non-musical source. 

Bedrich Smetana – Ma Vlast: Moldau 

Smetana wrote Ma Vlast about his homeland. The Moldau is the longest river in the Czech Republic, and you can hear it’s flowing waters as you listen to this piece. 

Franz Schubert- Die Forelle 

Schubert was well-known for his “lied,” a song where poetry has been set to classical music. He wrote over 600 of them! This piece is about a swimming trout. The piano evokes the sound of a flowing stream.

Feliz Mendelssohn – Hebrides Overture ‘Fingal’s Cave’  

Fingal’s Cave is a sea cave on a Scottish island in Britain and Mendelssohn wrote the melody for this piece the first time he viewed the cave on a trip to the British Isles.

Alexander Glazunov- The Seasons: Autumn

This music portrays the brightly colored leaves hanging from tree branches, the sudden gusts of winter cold, and the continued rays of warm summer sunshine all in one piece, the way they all mix during the Fall. 

Edvard Grieg – To Spring 

This is from Grieg’s set of lyric pieces, which are 66 short solo pieces for piano. 

Edward Elgar – Chanson de Matin 

In Chanson de Matin, or Morning Song, listen to the warm morning sun dance across leaves and through trees as it rises. 

Richard Strauss- Also sprach Zarathustra 

This famous piece of music depicts the rising sun, and it’s most well-known for its use in the movie 2001: Space Odyssey. This is music that starts soft and gets louder. Have your kids crouch down low as this piece begins and grow taller and taller as the music gets louder.    

What was your favorite piece? Let us know!

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