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Children are already told in music lessons that you don’t speak of light and dark, but of high and low tones; so obvious is the association of sounds and light. So it’s no surprise that some of the most impressive compositions in music history deal with the representation of light and shadow, day and night or – like the pieces on this playlist – the transformation of one to the other. Sunrise offers composers not only the opportunity to showcase a contrast of light and dark, but also the very act of becoming light.

With Jean Sibelius from Finland and Edvard Grieg from Norway, two Scandinavian composers are represented in this selection; moreover, Jens Peter Jakobsen, who wrote the lyrics for Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder, was Danish. Depending on the season, you often have to wait a long time – and on some days even in vain – for sunrise in the far north. Fortunately, you can experience the uplifting spectacle in music at any time! The dawn can be heralded by the silver glow of the flute – as in Grieg’s First Peer Gynt Suite – or by majestic brass sounds – as in Sibelius’s Night Ride and Sunrise.

In Richard Strauss’s tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra, inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche, the audience “gazes” into the dazzling sun at the beginning. The appearance of light in Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder, on the other hand, is symbolic of a hopeful future at the end of a tragic love story. Richard Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, wonderfully transparently orchestrated and, as it were, suffused with rays of sunlight, represents a chamber music counterpart to the mighty Götterdämmerung as a symbol of peace.

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