Classical 91.5

Transporting Music

Jun 13, 2017

This is not a metaphor for your soul being transported to another realm – I’ve got physical transportation on my mind.

Now that it is spring, I’m back into biking to work pretty much every day. I’m happy to be out and riding again, even though I did appreciate the chance to read on the bus on my commute this winter. The seasonal change in my travel habits – along with thinking about how we get around as I prepare to host an event for Reconnect Rochester about transportation and sustainability – reminded me of some of my favorite music for bikes – and trains – and even cars. 

One thing I realized: I know plenty of pop songs about busses (whether it’s The Hollies at a Bus Stop, or the Beatles inviting you to roll up for the Magical Mystery Tour…), but I can’t think of a single classical music piece inspired by a bus trip. Let me know if you think of one! 

Mendelssohn’s Italian symphony always makes me think of biking – because of the movie Breaking Away – because of the main character’s obsession with Italian cycling, the soundtrack also includes orchestra music by Rossini and a few Italian arias. 

Here’s another classic – a very young Frank Zappa playing music on a bicycle on the Steven Allen show 1963

I’m grateful for WQXR’s post about bicycling and music for introducing me to this cool piece – Travelon Gamelon Richard Lermon from 1977:   

There are some cautionary tales on WQXR’s list too – composer Ernest Chausson died in a biking accident, and Percy Grainger lost part of his finger! Not as tragic, but still a problem for many musicians. Percy Grainger would perhaps be better sticking to walking:

Here’s a fun train-inspired piece that you may have heard on the radio: Metro Chabacano by Javier Alvarez:

And this is an iconic piece of train music – and it’s about more than a simple commute. Read about the musical journeys of Steve Reich’s “Different Trains” here.

Finally, thanks to all the friends who kindly let me ride in their cars, when other transportation options just aren’t working: