In 1880, a young widow in Germany asked the artist Arnold Böcklin for a painting "to dream by."
In response, he painted a series of five versions of a painting which became known as Isle of the Dead.
Sergei Rachmaninoff was inspired by a black and white reproduction of Isle of the Dead to write a Symphonic Poem (Opus 29) under the same name, in 1909.
|This version was destroyed during WWII.|
The momentum of this piece builds slowly, as if in time to the rowing of an unnamed boatman. The recording is from a performance of the Russian National Orchestra (RNO) on November 7, 2012, with Mikhail Pletnev at the baton.
For further reading, this article in the New York Times on the subject may be of interest.