Tag Archives: Handel

Rivers of music

Mark Miles wrote a wonderful post The Music of a River that Flows through the Soul.  This post is informative and reminds me of the emotional connection that sounds make – the sounds of waters and the sounds of instruments.

When I walked along some sections of the Derwent River, I sang loudly and with great joy as a result of the emotional uplift which the river environment offered, and because I had the privilege of being able to walk freely.

It is easy for me to understand the motivations of musical composers over the centuries, and to love their work.  Only now do I recall that the music played as I walked down the church aisle to be married, was Handel’s Water Music.  Only now do I recall that one of Mum’s favourite vinyl LP was Strauss waltzes, with the Blue Danube Waltz ever present on the turntable.  As I sit here and type, a flood of memories of water and music connections throughout my life thrill me.  Were these happy memories the result of my being born in late February- Piscean territory?

All we like sheep …

Once again Handel’s oratorio The Messiah came to mind when I reached the top of one steep hill climb.

The initial words to the particularly delightful section are: “All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned everyone to his own way. …”  When sung, the voices start with ‘all we like sheep’ and do not continue immediately to the subsequent words.  Therefore, there is a tendency that if the words are not sung clearly, listeners think that we all like sheep, when the meaning is that we are similar to sheep and may go astray.  As for me, I like sheep and I have never been trusted not to go astray (after all, walking the Derwent isn’t what normal people do).  Nevertheless I am always happy to break out singing this marvellous song.  Have a listen to a choir (Choir of King’s College, Cambridge) which performs it well; at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixmNZQH0NjU The photos of sheep in all sorts of situations are shown while the voices sing the song. Incredibly entertaining.

Watch this video –  

Back to my walk.  Next to Tinderbox Road, I came across a couple of paddocks of resting sheep and ‘everyone had turned to his own way’.


On my return journey they were up and about grazing independently, but ‘everyone had turned to his own way’.  How could not we all like sheep?

A new milestone marking the 13th stage of my walk along the Derwent River: I reached the mouth on the western shore. Whoppee Doo!!

Yesterday, I completed the first part of my walk along the Derwent River: an exciting achievement.

Last August I started walking from the mouth of the River at Cape Direction on the tip of the South Arm peninsula and now, at the end of February, I have completed the distance from that mouth to the Bridgewater Bridge and back on the western shore to Pearson’s Point near the settlement of Tinderbox.

On the 8th stage mid-November, I had the first major milestone when I finished the walk from Cape Direction to the Bridgewater Bridge. This 13th stage was the culmination of walks from the Bridge back to the mouth on the western side of the River.

During yesterday’s walk, I covered about 5km of the length of the Derwent River.  By my reckoning, the total distance of the Derwent River on the western shore from the Bridgewater Bridge to the mouth is 38 3/4 km.

For Stage 13 yesterday, I needed to walk to Pearson’s Point from the bus stop where I finished on Stage 12 and then, on reaching my goal, I needed to retrace my steps back to Blackmans Bay to connect with a bus that could return me to Hobart.  This distance was approximately 17 kms. I have now walked at least 171km not counting getting to and from buses.  But when the walks are staggered over time, this number does not mean much.

The highlights of the walk to Pearson’s Point were mostly small and natural: rosehips, green rosellas, hum of bees, resting sheep, and the taste of delicious ripe blackberries along the way.


I was surprised how close the northern part of Bruny Island was to the mainland of Tasmania (almost felt like I could swim across the D’entrecasteaux Channel) and I felt overwhelmed by the staggeringly expansive and grand views across and up and down the Derwent River.


The fun part was singing (including mixing up the words in my excitement) Handel’s Hallelujah chorus (from The Messiah) at the top of my voice when I passed a large sign with the words SING. You can listen to a superb version performed in 2012 by the Royal Choral Society at the Royal Albert Hall in London England at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUZEtVbJT5c


Over the next few days I will write up the journey and the discoveries of Stage 13’s walk.  Then I will be looking towards a long main road walk from the Bridgewater Bridge at Granton to New Norfolk which I expect to undertake in the next couple of weeks.  Once I have reached New Norfolk I will be on the way to Lake St Clair, the source of the Derwent River.

Inspired follower of this blog

Follower of this blog, Ju, emailed me a list of more composers found to be associated with rivers. Ju claimed to be ‘obviously bored’ when undertaking the research. I prefer to see it as inspired by a reading of my posting at https://walkingthederwent.com/2014/11/09/more-music-close-to-the-derwent-river/.   Thanks Ju, I am inspired to continue researching other connections with rivers as I see fit over the period of my walk along the Derwent River. Ju found the following:

  • When Beethoven found refuge in the midst of nature, he jotted down themes inspired by the trill of birds, the trickling of creeks or the rustle of leaves. In one of his notebooks from 1803 was found an outline of a river’s trickling with the additional note: “The greater the river, the more grave the tone.” ‘By the Brook’ (The natural scene of the stream) from Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. This slow movement is a beautiful depiction of the delicate nature of… nature itself. It is a wonderful scene of nature with exceptionally musical themes in the pure pastoral air. You can almost breathe the fresh country air! It is more of a description of sensations rather than images. Towards the end, we find the onomatopoeic sounds of birds. Beethoven came back to Mödling during the summer of 1820; he lived in a house called “Christhof” (The “Yard of the Christ”) in Fischergasse (“Fisherman’s street “), near the little river that runs through the village.
  • Robert Schumann : On 27 February 1854 he threw himself into the River Rhine
  • Bedrich Smetana: The Moldau is a musical portrayal of the main river (Moldau is German for Vltava) which runs through the countryside of Bohemia (present day Czechoslovakia). The composer wrote the work following a trip he took down the river as part of a larger cycle of six symphonic poems written between 1874 and 1879 entitled Má Vlast (My Country). Note that each section of the work has its own descriptive title.
  • http://www.mhhe.com/socscience/music/kamien/student/olc/61.htm
  • Shostakovich: The Song of the Great Rivers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZhQrAG3wjc
  • Delius: Summer Night on the River https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yvr4l-LufBs
  • Wagner: Das Rheingold (from The Ring Cycle) [The Rhine]
  • Handel: Water Music [Thames]
  • Tobias Picker: Old and Lost Rivers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dg2iPEKzqwo
  • Xian Xinghai: Yellow River Concerto https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJBU9TyRA80
  • William Blezard: The River http://landofllostcontent.blogspot.com.au/2010/01/william-blezard-river.html
  • Constant Lambert: The Rio Grande (Brazil)
  • Edward Elgar: Severn Suite
  • Sergei Kusevitsky Volga River concert tours of classical music 1910 – 1914
  • Alfred Schnittke was born November 24, 1934 in the city of Engels on the Volga River
  • Song of the Volga Boatmen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nqlBp07j94
  • Duke Ellington: The River Suite – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qg54v9qvDIU&list=PL4F793D8148DC1E2A and Swampy River – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tB7aBVPoFAw

Thanks Ju.