Thursday, November 18, 2010

Musical Musings

Today, I had a very interesting exchange with my students.  Before one of my classes one of my students asked me what kind of music I liked.  Before I had a chance to reply, another student blurted out, "Probably something stupid like classical music!"  It took me by surprise because I do like classical music, but it probably wouldn't have been the first thing out of my mouth.

After conversing with my students for a few moments, I began to realize that almost none of them knew any classical musical pieces.  I asked them if they could name any composers.  There was silence.  I mentioned a few: Mozart, Beethoven, etc. and they replied, "Oh, yeah, I've heard of them."

They then asked me who some of my favorite composers were.  I named a few and then I said, let's listen to a couple.

Today, I played Felix Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words, Op. 19, No. 1 for them.  You could have heard a pin drop.  I don't think any of them had ever heard it before.

If you've never heard it, you can listen to it HERE.

So what about all of you, do you have favorite composers or works?  If you give me some recommendations, I'll try and play some of yours for my students too.


Anonymous said...

Not knowing much classical music myself, I had never heard this piece before, and I loved it.

One which it reminded me of and I can recommend for your students comes from the soundtrack of the movie picture "The Piano", "the heart asks pleasure first", which can be heard here:

Roger said...

I would have to say Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Any one that starts to compose music at the age of five gets my vote.
But such a tragic life he had, and to die so young.

Mathan said...

Cesar Franck, Symphony in d minor has been my favorite since I was a child.

Mom's favorite was "The New World" by Dvorak. Dad's was Mozart's 40th.

When testing for a new stereo, we always took Smetana's "Moldau" or Mahler's Symphony No. 2 because of the range of volume and scale. They're the only two I know where triangles and timpani are going off at the same time.

kerrys said...

First movement of Beethoven's Fifth will get their attention.

The "Ode to Joy" from his Ninth should get to them, too.

Astrocrabpuff said...

Any reason given for why that student thought classical music was stupid? :)

Unknown said...

I’m ashamed to say I don’t know much about classical music either. I’ve bought a whole set of cds years ago, and a few books, and it is still on my long-term to-do list to plunge myself into it. Since I watched the Amadeus movie I love Mozart’s Requiem. And I like Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plump Fairy. I also prefer subtle piano pieces like Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata.

Gina said...

I love the 1812 Overture. I love playing it for my classes and sharing the story of Napoleon's invasion of Russia and pointing out the themes of Russian church hymns, La Marsaillaise, and Russian folk songs. I start at the beginning and skip a few slow parts to sample a bit from each section of the 16+ minutes overture. I have them listen for battles, pauses, retreats and attacks, and finally celebrations. It shows how music can tell a story without words and I always point out how next time they hear it at the fourth of July they will think about how it has NO connection to US history at all, we just like cannons.

Jules said...

My husband was raised on classical music, having a mother who was a music teacher. I however failed the music appreciation class in school. But with husband's patience, I have learned to like Dvorak, for example. I'm more into the ones with words such as when the 3 tenors sing together. Beautiful!

Judi said...

How about the ones they play at graduation? Pomp & Circumstance and March of the Priests? Do they still play March of the Priests?

Virgil S, said...

You can't beat Bach... his Italian Concerto by Glenn Gould, and the Brandenburg Concerto #3 among many others. Both of these are on YouTube. I also like Renaissance music, e.g. Giovanni Pacoloni; (Renaissance Lute Music—Lute Consort—Pacoloni's Battaglia) on YouTube. And I suggest you show your students a video of theorbo music, also on YouTube. Isn't the Web wonderful?

Astrocrabpuff said...

Also: Beethoven: Old School Beats.

Mathan said...

Since most kids that I know are highly visual, try "Fantasia" or "Fantasia 2000". Hard to go wrong, there.

I love The Five, but mostly Moussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. "Night on Bald Mountain" and "Russian Easter Overture" especially.

Enotomologically speaking, an earwig is a bug that supposedly creeps inside your ear and eats your brain. Musically, an earwig is a tune that does the same. %^) I have two Classical earwigs: Boccherini's Minuet in A Major, and the drinking song from La Traviata. Drat! Looks like I can't even mention them without one of them getting stuck in there.

Momma Nic said...

I think I would guide them to realize how much they have heard classical music, yet not know it. I have a CS entitled, Greatest Hits, Cartoons. It is one of my favorites. Everyone who has ridden the train at Disneyland has heard Classical Music. Its out there.

Nate Maas said...

Wow! I did not know my readership possessed such highbrow tastes. I am very impressed. Perhaps I should have started a classical music blog!

Claudio - glad you liked it. By the way, wonderful photos! If you haven't seen Claudio's pictures, you can click on his profile and it'll take you to his Flickr account. My students probably have more familiarity with classical music than they think through movie soundtracks. Thanks for the link.

Roger - I agree, Mozart is one of my favorites. In fact my hometown of San Luis Obispo puts on a Mozart Festival every year (see: ). If anyone likes classical music in a wine country town, this is for you.

Mathan - Good choices. I haven't listened to Smetana in years. I do like his work. You're right, triangles and kettledrums are not normally heard together. The only other I can think of is Bruckner's Symphony No. 7. My memory is not that good - I could not recall the symphony number until I looked it up.

Kerrys - Considering my students' lack of musical background, I think your selections may be some of the first I go to.

Astrocrabpuff - I teach at a high school for students who have already been kicked out of the traditional schools, so their language is pretty vulgar. Their musical backgrounds are typically, hip hop, rap, Norteno, and metal - not much else.

Rob - I agree with all your choices except for Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. I cannot listen to that without remembering all the Christmases I was dragged to my sisters' annual Nutcracker ballet performances.

Gina - Thanks for the reminder. I'm teaching World History this year, so perhaps when we get to Napoleon, I'll use this in my classes. That could be fun.

Jules - Isn't having a spouse great? I've always enjoyed how my wife expands and enriches my tastes. Haven't quite gotten her to appreciate all my music yet, but I'm working on it.

Judi - Our school plays Elgar, but not Mendelssohn at graduation.

Virgil - I agree, Bach is one of my favorites too. Particularly like the Mass in B Minor and the Cello Suites. The web is great. I although I teach history, I love living in the present.

Momma Nic - I agree with you, I recall seeing a Looney Tunes Music CD not too long ago. I may start with something like that, but I'm just afraid that I'll get those earwigs that Mathan referred to stuck in my head. BTW, thanks for mentioning Boccherini's Minuet and La Traviata. Until now, I only had Ode to Joy running through my head since reading Kerrys' post - now I've got two others to deal with. :D

I really did find this discussion fun. Thanks everyone!

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