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In Your Dreams: Classical Music's Dreamiest Pieces

Ether Game is dozing off this week to bring you a list of 8 classical works all about dreams. We've compiled this list straight from our dream journals, and hope you enjoy (if it doesn't put you to sleep first)...


  • Claude Debussy, RêverieThe term "Rêverie" was used by Romantic poets to describe a daydream or dream state, and no composer has become more famous for writing the music of dreams than Claude Debussy. The character of the work perfectly fits the title; the opening theme is repetitive, simple and wandering, as if the composer is lost in thought and meditation rather than experiencing the vivid dreams of a deep sleep.

  • Franz Schubert, "Nacht Und Träume": Schubert's song "Nacht Und Träume," ("Night And Dreams") is one of his most famous standalone songs, with a dreamy melody that floats over the undulating accompaniment as it shifts to faraway tonal centers. It was also a favorite piece of 20th-century playwright Samuel Beckett, whose 1983 pantomimed television play Nacht Und Träume featured part of this song. In fact, it was the only sound heard in the entire play!

  • Gabriel Fauré, "Après Un Rêve": Fauré's most popular vocal work, Fauré's "Après un Rêve" ("After a Dream") reflects his interest in the Symbolist art movement. Symbolists were a group of poets, authors and artists in he late-19th/early-20th century who believed that the universe was a symbol of a deeper, hidden reality that only art could reveal. Fauré became the first composer to add a musical component to the Symbolist style. "Après un Rêve," in Symbolist fashion, focuses on the world of dreams, where mysterious objects take on layers of hidden meaning.

  • Franz Liszt, Liebestraum No. 3 in A-flat MajorThis famous piano work was actually a piano transcription of three earlier songs that Liszt wrote. These three songs, titled "Dreams Of Love," describe three different kinds of love: religious love, lust, and (in this movement) unconditional love. This particular movement has become especially popular. It was even the favorite piece of Margo Channing, Bette Davis's character in the film All About Eve, who requests several performances of it after having a few too many martinis.

  • Eric Whitacre, Leonardo Dreams Of His Flying MachineThis choral work with lyrics by Charles Anthony Silvestri explores the concept: what was going on in the mind of Leonardo DaVinci when he came up with his most revolutionary ideas? It's a soundtrack of what that dream might be like, according to the poet, with clashing chords and extended choral techniques establishing those dream-like visions.

  • Giuseppe Tartini, "Devil's Trill" Sonata:Â It's said that Tartini once dreamed he had made a pact with the devil, and asked if the devil might play his violin. What emerged from this dream was a sonata Tartini described as "so beautiful, performed with such mastery and intelligence," that he wanted to possess it. He attempted to write out the music he heard in his dream, giving birth to the piece we now know as "The Devil's Trill."

  • Agustín Barrios, "Un Sueño en la Floresta" ("A Dream In The Flowerland"): This virtuosic staple of the classical guitar repertoire features some brilliant tremolo work, where one high note is repeated while the fingers of the left hand stretch to play a melody in the lower register. It comes from the early 20th-century South American virtuoso Agustín Barrios. Barrios performed around South and Central America under the name "Mangoré," named after a chief of the Guaraní people, where he dressed up in feathers and a headdress.

  • Alexander von Zemlinsky, Der TraumgörgeThis Romantic opera, Görge, The Dreamer, is about a young dreamer who wants desperately for the beautiful princesses of his fairy tales to be real, and later realizes that those dreams can be real after he falls in love with the town's outcast. The music is evocative of late Wagner, and was written not long after Zemlinsky had an affair with Alma Schindler (before she ended up marrying Gustav Mahler).


See the full playlist below. And don't forget to check out our Dreamy Podcast from this week!

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