9 Classical Music facts inspired by International Dog Day

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It’s well known that some dogs find classical music as soothing as people do, but did you know some of our most famous composers wrote music inspired by their canine companions? 

To mark International Dog Day, Town Hall Symphony Hall found 9 paw-sitively brilliant facts about dogs and classical music, inspired by some of the concert programmes included in THSH's Birmingham Classical 2019/20 Season


Many people know Chopin’s famous Minute Waltz as the theme tune of BBC Radio’s Just A Minute, but did you know it was initially called the Little Dog Waltz? It is thought that Chopin was inspired by watching his lover George Sand’s dog Marquis chasing its tail.

Nobuyuki Tsujii plays music by Chopin at Town Hall on 9 May 2020.


Chopin wasn’t the only composer inspired by dogs – the young Beethoven wrote an elegy to a departed poodle (Elegie auf den Tod eines Pudels). 

Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO play music by Beethoven at Symphony Hall on 14 January 2020. 


Elgar’s love of dogs is well-documented  - in his old age his beloved pets became more and more important to him. Variation XI (G.R.S) of the Enigma Variations was inspired by a local bulldog falling down a bank into the River Wye and then paddling up stream to climb back out.

Simon Halsey and Cor Jove De L’Orfeo Catala play music by Elgar at Symphony Hall on 30 May 2020


Even dogs appreciate Mendelssohn. Midway through Felix Mendelssohn's Fourth Symphony, performed by a live orchestra in the ruins of ancient Ephesus, an unexpected guest appears to enjoy the music. 

The Goldmund Quartet play music by Mendelssohn at Symphony Hall on 4 February 2020.


Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf has delighted and enthralled generations of children since its premiere in the 1930s. Who can forget the drama of the wolf’s approach, represented by the French horns? 

Noa Wildschut plays music by Prokofiev at Symphony Hall on 29 January 2020.


Britten particularly loved dachshunds, and one of his portraits at the National Portrait Gallershows him with one of the beloved dogs he owned with his partner Peter Pears. 

The Britten-Shostakovich Festival Orchestra plays music by Britten at Symphony Hall on 17 September 2019


It is said that the Hungarian composer used to send clippings of his dog’s fur to fans who wrote to him asking for locks of his hair, as he could not keep up with all the requests – truly the height of Lisztomania!

Lauren Zhang plays music by Liszt at Town Hall on 27 June 2020


Although there are no movements dedicated to canines in Saint-Saëns’ famous Carnival of the Animals, the French composer loved dogs, naming one pet Dalila – maybe in reference to his opera Samson et Dalila.

The Taiwan Philharmonic play music by Saint-Saëns at Symphony Hall on 20 April 2020


Like his compatriot Saint-Saëns, Poulenc loved dogs, and was often photographed with his beloved fox terrier Mickey.

Magnus Holmander plays music by Poulenc at Symphony Hall on 10 June 2020.