Music for Motivation and Mind #1

Music for motivation and mind

In the Steppes of Central Asia

Welcome to the first in the series of our music related blogs – ‘Music for motivation and mind’! Laura here, bringing you some well known and some lesser known works in the Classical, Romantic and Modern eras. I will be sharing some of my favourite pieces that I find relaxing, interesting and generally great for getting away from the mid-week stresses of work.

I will be summarising the background of the pieces and including some links to recordings on YouTube for you to hear them for yourself.

This time we’re in 1880’s Russia with a piece commissioned by Tsar Alexander II. Composed by Alexander Borodin for the Tsar’s Silver Jubilee, the work was a Symphonic Poem, originally meant to be included in a Tableux of works celebrating the Tsar’s achievements. However, this project was abandoned after an assassination attempt.

Luckily, the piece was finished and premiered on April 29th 1880, with a fellow composer conducting the piece – Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. (Who also has happened to write some wonderful music, including Flight of the Bumblebee! But more on that another time).

The work depicts the Asians crossing the Steppe Lands under the protection of the Russian troops. See if you can pick out the three different themes as you listen. Borodin has also provided a programmatic description to accompany the work:

‘In the desert of Central Asia the melody of a peaceful Russian song is heard at first. The approaching tramp of horses and camels is heard, together with the doleful sounds of an oriental melody. A native caravan guarded by Russian soldiers crosses the boundless steppe. It completes its long journey trustingly and without fear under the protection of the victors’ awesome military strength. The caravan moves further and further away. The peaceful melodies of both vanquished and vanquisher merge into a single common harmony, whose echoes long resound in the steppe before eventually dying away in the distance. Borodin’s “peaceful Russian song” is played at the outset by solo clarinet; the “oriental melody” is given initially to the English horn.’ 

Continue reading the rest of the article from the New York Philharmonic here:

James M. Keller, Program Annotator, The Leni and Peter May Chair.

Explore these pieces of Music for Motivation and mind :

Dresden Staatskapelle:

Czech National Symphonic Orchestra:

USSR Symphony Orchestra:

For a live recording check out this link:


Image credit: Thanks to Ioana Sasu from Pixabay

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