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Hundreds of composers wrote and continue to write music directly inspired by the distinctive features of great waterways. The depth and multi-layered velocity of the Rhine has proved an irresistible inspiration for German composers just as the metaphorical and social resonances of the Mississippi have to Americans. Sometimes, composers take rhythmic inspiration from a river's steady pace. At others, they just want to conjure the wonder, joy or pride we feel when faced with rivers themselves or the industrious bustle that surrounds them. But one piece here isn't directly connected to a river. Jean Sibelius long strived to imitate the organic flow of rivers – their steady accumulation of content from various tributaries – in his symphonies. His Seventh Symphony is one of the greatest examples of a 'river in sound' there is. Playlist curated by Andrew Mellor.

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