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Classical Notes

Pieces of Spring No. 7

Posted at 8:00 AM on May 8, 2007 by John Birge

Welcome May, and Classical Minnesota Public Radio's Pieces of Spring.

Every day, we'll play a springtime classic. Visit our online playlist to find each day's spring piece or, in the Twin Cities, listen to 99.5 every morning at 8. Enter the correct title here, and you have another chance to win fresh flowers delivered to your door for a year! Check back here every day to see if you got it right.

Yesterday's piece was the chorus "Come, Dear Spring," from Haydn's oratorio "The Seasons."

"The Seasons" was commissioned by a group of Viennese nobles who subsidized large-scale choral works, led by librarian Baron von Swieten. Von Swieten provided Haydn with the libretto for "The Seasons," a heavily-edited, German translation of an epic poem by English poet James Thomson. Haydn didn't like the libretto, with its portrayal of peasants (instead of angels, as in his other great oratorio "The Creation"), but the audience at premiere of "The Seasons" was quite taken with the piece.

Come, dear spring! Come, gift from heaven!
From its sleep of death, awaken nature!

It approaches, fair spring, we feel its
soft breath even now. Soon everything
will live again.

Don't rejoice prematurely. Often,
veiled in mist, winter may creep back
and spread on blossoms and seeds its
numbing poison.

Come, fair spring, come gift from
heaven! Sink down upon our
meadows! O come and delay no longer.