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Classics For Kids

Author: Cincinnati Public Radio

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Introduce children to classical music in a fun and entertaining way.
177 Episodes
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Ludwig van Beethoven was a uniquely talented composer and musician. But by the time Beethoven was 30, his increasing deafness put an end to his career as a pianist. That did not stop him from continuing to compose some of the most beautiful music the world has ever known. As a composer, Beethoven was a revolutionary. He took the Classical forms he learned from Mozart and Haydn, and pushed them into the next period of musical history -- the Romantic era.
George Gershwin was just one composer who used jazz in music that was written for the classical concert hall. So did Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, and others.
George Gershwin wrote his Rhapsody in Blue in a big hurry, after he saw a newspaper announcement saying that he was writing a jazz concerto for a concert taking place in less than a month! Everyone loved the piece at its first performance, and at age 25, Gershwin became a musical celebrity.
"Rhapsody" is an ancient word that means "songs stitched together". The Greeks used to write long poems in praise of their heroes, and then take bits and pieces of those poems and string them together for performance. In music, a rhapsody is a free-form piece that takes different tunes and strings them together.
George Gershwin was an American composer who combined classical music and jazz to create his own unique style. Gershwin wrote music for Broadway shows, movies, the concert hall, and opera. One of the people he liked to work with was his brother Ira, who wrote wonderful lyrics (words) for George Gershwin's songs.
Handel wrote his Water Music for the King of England. Lots of aristocrats hired composers to write music for them. But some kings and nobles wrote music themselves, including King Henry VIII; Alfonso X; Frederick the Great and others.
The Water Music that Handel composed may be the most famous classical music associated with water, but there are lots of other composers who wrote watery pieces.
As soon as Handel got his first job of court composer to a German prince, he headed for England. Through a bizarre twist of royal succession, that prince ended up becoming king of England. Instead of staying angry at Handel for leaving Germany, King George I asked him to compose music for a huge party he held on barges on the River Thames.
1685 was a very good year for German composers. Within the space of a month, two of the greatest were born: Johann Sebastian Bach, and George Frederick Handel. Handel spent most of his career in England, where he wrote and produced both operas and oratorios.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov spent years as a professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Many of his students became famous composers themselves: Anatol Liadov, Alexander Glazunov, and Igor Stravinsky. A lot of famous composers studied with each other.
There are many pieces of classical music -- besides "The Flight of the Bumblebee" -- that are about bees, birds, and other winged creatures. Composers use various instruments to imitate insects, and to create all kinds of bird calls.
Many pieces of music from Russian operas have become much more famous in the concert hall than on the opera stage. Some of these pieces include Tchaikovsky's Waltz and Polonaise from Eugene Onegin, Alexander Borodin's Polovstian Dances from Prince Igor, and Sergei Prokofiev's march from The Love for Three Oranges.
The Flight of the Bumblebee comes from an opera called The Tale of Tsar Saltan, which is based on a story by the famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. In the opera's complicated plot, Prince Gvidon is separated from his father, Tsar Saltan, and ends up ruling an island full of enchanted objects and animals -- including an enchanted swan, whom the prince marries once she gets turned back into a princess.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov became a navy officer in order to follow in his older brother's footsteps. But his real talent lay in music. After leaving the navy, he became a teacher at the St. Petersburg Conservatory -- even though he had little formal music education himself.
Vivaldi is not the only composer who wrote music about the seasons, or about spring. Many other composers wrote springtime music.
Concertos got their start in 17th century Italy. The history of violin concertos follows the history of great violinists.
Vivaldi based each of his The Four Seasons concertos on a set of sonnets -- poems. The music in each of the Four Seasons describes exactly what's going on in the poems. "Spring" includes birds, brooks, breezes and thunderstorms. See how many of those you can hear in Vivaldi's music.
Antonio Vivaldi was the oldest of six (some say nine) children. His father was a barber, baker and violinist. Vivaldi inherited his father's musical talent, and his flaming red hair. Vivaldi became a priest, but he spent most of his life composing and teaching music.
When Johann Sebastian Bach sent a set of six concertos to the Margrave of Brandenburg -- a German official -- the Margrave probably never even looked at the music. Bach called his pieces "concertos for a variety of instruments," because each one calls for a different instrumental combination.
A concerto is a piece of music in which one or more solo instruments get to shine in front of an orchestra. A concerto can be written for any instrument. A "concerto grosso" is a concerto for two groups of instruments -- a smaller group of soloists alternating with a larger group.
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Comments (6)

Mariejose

Can you do a pidcast on Paganini?

Jul 28th
Reply (1)

Alison Rucker

Great list! Thanks! Any chance you'll be covering Weber soon?

Sep 13th
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Armin van Buuren

Thank you a lot for your podcast that teach us something valuable about famous musicians. you are the best.

May 31st
Reply

Tim Sentell

how are you doing I hope all is going well and enjoying the family 😎 live ok

Feb 3rd
Reply (1)
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