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Music Library Thematic Displays: Love in Music

This guide showcases resources from the George F. DeVine Music Library centered on specific themes. Selected themes reflect UT School of Music events and programs, as well as cultural celebrations.

Title: Love in Muisc

Love in Music

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February 2024

Love in Music


Greatest Love Songs in Opera

La Bohème: "O soave fanciulla" (Popov, Pérez)

In Puccini's opera La Bohème, there is a famous love duet called "O soave fanciulla". This scene begins with Rodolfo seeing Mimi bathed in the moonlight and ends with them realizing they are in love with each other. The title translates to "Oh lovely girl". (1)


(1) Budden, J.  (2002). Bohème, La (i). Grove Music Online. Retrieved 16 Feb. 2024

Tristan und Isolde - Wikipedia

Tristan und Isolde is an epic three act opera by Wagner. It is well known for the creation of the Tristan Chord and use of leitmotifs. "O sink' hernieder, Nacht der Liebe" is the main duet of the opera where they confess their love despite it being forbidden. They decide to meet during the night and reunite for eternal love in death. (1)


(1) Millington, B.  (2002). Tristan und Isolde. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 16 Feb. 2024

 CARMEN (Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Carmen by Bizet is one of the most well known operas in history. The famous Habanara - titled "L’amour est un oiseau rebelle" is an aria about the rebellious nature of love. After Carmen sings this, the soldier Don José falls in love with her. The melody of this aria is used throughout the opera as Carmen's theme. (1)


(1) Macdonald, H.  (2002). Carmen. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 16 Feb. 2024


Turandot is another famous opera by Puccini that is known for its beautiful love story. In Act 3, Calaf sings "Nessun Dorma" which is translated to "Let no one sleep". He sings about the love he feels for the powerful Princess Turandot and how he will win their bet and get to marry her. It is one of the most well known tenor arias. (1)

(1) Budden, J.  (2002). Turandot (ii). Grove Music Online. Retrieved 16 Feb. 2024


Romance in Symphonies

Adagietto sheet music

Gustav Mahler wrote this symphony in 1901. Movement 4, the Adagietto, is dedicated to his wife and their love. There is a German poem set to the tune of this movement that was written by Mahler speaking of his eternal love for Alma. He wrote this symphony shortly after meeting Alma for the first time. The Adagietto is commonly performed. (1)


(1) Franklin, P.  (2001). Mahler, Gustav. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 16 Feb. 2024,

Ballet Love Stories

Swan Lake is based off of Russian folk tales. It tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer and her love of Prince Siegfried. The ballet premiered in 1877 and was composed by Tchaikovsky. He used leitmotif techniques to assign themes, most notably to differentiate between the White Swan and the Black Swan. 

Swan Lake Duet

The Sleeping Beauty is a ballet by Tchaikovsky based on Perrault’s La Belle au bois dormant. Princess Aurora is cursed to sleep for 100 by an evil fairy and could only be woken by true love’s kiss.

The Sleeping Beauty Duet

Giselle is a romantic ballet composed by Adolphe Adam. It tells the story of a peasant girl named Giselle who falls in love with a nobleman.

Giselle ballet duet

Broken Hearts Club

This is a piece of program music by Berlioz that tells the story of a gifted artist who poisons himself with opium because of unrequited love. This story is modeled after Berlioz’s own experience of falling in love and becoming obsessed with an actress. He wrote this for her and then poisoned himself in front of her to convince her to marry him. (1)

(1) Macdonald, H.  (2001). Berlioz, (Louis-)Hector. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 16 Feb. 2024

This is an aria from Mozart’s opera Die Zauberflöte. After being ignored by the man she loves, Pamina sings about how she wants to die so that she doesn’t have to live without the love of Tamino. (1)


(1) Rushton, J.  (2002). Zauberflöte, Die. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 16 Feb. 2024