Tales of Travel

Music and storytelling have gone hand in hand since the dawn of human history, with travel providing a fountain of new experiences to this end. It was in the romantic era that composers took this triad of music, story, and travel to a deeper, more personal level. In this period, we see and hear composers shift dramatically toward themes of personal introspection and the beauty of nature in their music.

By tapping into these worlds of personal experience, the likes of Mendelssohn and Mahler were able to truly embrace the range of sensations – excitement, discovery, ambivalence – that come from travel. They wove awe-inspiring scenes and emotionally resonant tales through the transportational power of sound. Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture carries listeners on the surging waves of the Scottish sea pairing undulating rhythms with lyrical and expansive melodies. Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer), on the other hand, sets a spurned lover’s agonizing grief against contrasting sketches of pastoral charm, interwoven by the composer’s use of progressive tonality.

This approach to composition carried on well into the 20th Century too: Gershwin’s An American in Paris embraces the Machine Age bustle of the city with its iconic taxi horns, whilst Copland’s Appalachian Spring yearns for the simplicity of old rural America with open harmonies creating a sense of wide, open space. The work of 21st-century composer John Psathas equally delves into the cultural traditions of his Greek ancestral homeland with a mixture of wonder and trepidation, defying the curse of the ‘evil eye’ through a stream of impassioned playing. 

Imagine an odyssey, not through physical space, but across the rich and varied landscapes of sound, conjured by the musical stories composers have penned throughout the centuries. This is the essence of our latest playlist ‘Tales of Travel,’ a curated collection of works that invite listeners to traverse distant lands, epochs, and emotions.

With this playlist, we invite you to explore the world through sound. Travel not just through countries and continents, but through the depths of your own emotions and dreams. In the end, the most profound journeys are the ones that lead us back to ourselves, enriched by the tales we've heard along the way.


Mendelssohn - Hebrides Overture

  • ConductorSir John Eliot Gardiner
  • OrchestraLondon Symphony Orchestra
  • LocationBarbican Centre

Mendelssohn's 'Fingal's Cave'.

Off Scotland's rugged coast lies Staffa Island. Felix Mendelssohn, inspired by Fingal's Cave in 1829, composed the Hebrides Overture, capturing the wild beauty and serene wonder of the Hebrides in music. The piece is performed here by the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sir John Eliot Gardiner.


Copland - Appalachian Spring

  • ConductorMichael Tilson Thomas
  • OrchestraCzech Philharmonic
  • LocationRudolfinum

A new arrangement of a great American classic.

In New York's bustle, Aaron Copland longed for rural peace. Inspired by Martha Graham and the Appalachian Mountains, he composed 'Appalachian Spring' in 1944, capturing America's beauty and spirit in music. Michael Tilson Thomas takes to the podium at the Rudolfinum, conducting the Czech Philharmonic in a personal arrangement of Aaron Copland's foremost American classic.


Gershwin - An American in Paris

  • ConductorGustavo Dudamel
  • OrchestraLos Angeles Philharmonic
  • LocationWalt Disney Concert Hall

Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

In the 1920s, George Gershwin left New York to explore Paris, studying under Maurice Ravel. Inspired, he composed 'An American in Paris,' blending jazz, blues, and classical music to capture Parisian life. A hundred years on, Gustavo Dudamel leads the LA Phil in an unforgettable performance of Gershwin's quitessential piece.


Haydn - Symphony No. 102

  • ConductorIván Fischer
  • OrchestraRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra
  • LocationRoyal Concertgebouw

One of Haydn's many 'London' Symphonies' played in Amsterdam.

In 1790, after Prince Nikolaus' death, Joseph Haydn left Austria for England, invited by Johann Salomon. There, he composed six of his 'London' Symphonies, including No. 102, showcasing his symphonic mastery. The symphony is performed here by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, led by the incomparable Iván Fischer.


Dvořák - American Suite

  • ConductorPetr Altrichter
  • OrchestraCzech Philharmonic
  • LocationRudolfinum

The Czech Phil performs Dvořák's iconic suite under the baton of Petr Altrichter.

In 1892, Antonín Dvořák, inspired by America's diverse cultures while in New York, composed the 'American Suite.' Its five movements capture the city's energy, countryside serenity, folk music spirit, and America's boundless spirit. Under the conducting of Petr Altrichter, the Czech Philharmonic brings the suite to the Rudolfinum.

... And much more!