Songs of Winter

Submitted by shawreb on
Rebecca Shaw, Music Archivist

A blanket of snow covers the ground and suddenly winter is upon us. Today, we bring you a small selection of winter-themed music from our collection to contribute to your seasonal soundtrack. Included are items from our physical collection (available for curbside pickup); items available online through library subscription resources; and items from our archives and special collections. Remember, the materials included here represent only a fraction of our "wintery" holdings. Make your own list and share it with us! Send an email to, or reach out on our social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

We start our journey with Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, and the fourth concerto L'invero (Winter) in particular. There are numerous recordings to choose from for this well-known work, but if you are headed into the Library to pick up your curbside requests, why not add one more to the pile? This CD features a 1991 recording of The Four Seasons on period instruments by Toronto's Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, conducted by Jeanne Lamon. Or, if you are isolating at home, you can listen to their2007 recording through the Library's Naxos subscription.

Vivaldi is not the only composer to use the seasons for inspiration. In our Canadian Sheet Music collection, you will find "Four seasons : a Canadian song cycle for voice and piano" by Louis Victor Saar (C. Fischer, 1926). The sheet music was previously owned by Canadian conductor and former Dean of the Faculty, Sir Ernest MacMillan.

Another former professor of the Faculty, Derek Holman, also wrote a song cycle for tenor and piano entitled The Four Seasons (2009), which was commissioned by the Canadian Opera Company in memory of Richard Bradshaw. The Music Library recently acquired Holman's archives, including a typescript, annotated manuscript for this song cycle. You can listen to the song cycle as performed by Lawrence Wiliford on this 2014 CD, or hear an excerpt ("Towered Camelot") performed by Wiliford in a concert presented by the Aldeburgh Connection on May 2, 2010. You can browse the Aldeburgh Connection's complete audio archive, including recordings of their concerts and programmes on their website. The textual archives of the Aldeburgh Connection are held at the Music Library.

Staying in the archives a little while longer, why not check out Rob McConnell's "Winter in Winnipeg" [1991]. Listen to Rob McConnell & the Boss Brass perform this piece on their CD The brass is back.

If you prefer to provide your own wintery soundtrack, the Music Library has plenty to choose from. Sing Benjamin Britten's Winter words, op. 52 or play Charles J. Millar's "Canadian Winter Galop," one of several winter-inspired pieces of sheet music in our collection. 

To find more wintery songs:

Stay safe, and enjoy the snow! Remember, you can always reach out to us with questions via phone, email, our Virtual Help Desk, or by Booking a Research Consultation. If you are placing curbside pickup requests before the holidays, be sure to take note of our holiday hours.