He was how old when he wrote it?
April 9, 2007 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Cool classical music facts for kids?

Any classical music facts that kids might find interesting as part of a summer concert series?

Looking more toward:

"Stradivarius may have used honey, egg white, and ash in the varnish of his instruments."


"Doesn't Peter and the Wolf's oboe sound like a duck?

Bonus points for anything directly about the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
posted by asuprenant to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Beethoven was mostly deaf. (his partial deafness degraded as his life work on)
posted by chrisamiller at 5:02 PM on April 9, 2007

A coupla resources for this kind of thing:

NY Philharmonic Kidzone
San Francisco Symphony Kids Site
posted by jbickers at 5:02 PM on April 9, 2007

You might read this, if you haven't already. It's written for adults, but you could definitely get a lot of material from it.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:29 PM on April 9, 2007

Oh, for the days of classic Merrie Melodies cartoons, when you could learn the likes of Beethoven and Rossini on Saurday mornings, and never have to even know it.
posted by pjern at 7:33 PM on April 9, 2007

Best answer: Catgut is amusingly gross...
posted by kmennie at 7:36 PM on April 9, 2007

This is an obvious one, but I feel like kids will be amused by it: Pictures at an Exhibition, by Mussorgsky, depicts the composer himself wandering among paintings in an exhibition of the art of Viktor Hartmann. At times it has a plodding, heavy feel, and this was intended by the composer to represent the manner of walking his rather large frame necessitated.

Paganini is rumored to have made a pact with the devil for violin skillz, but that may be too much for young kids.

Finally, the strings in a modern grand piano pull on the frame with around 20 tons of force.
posted by invitapriore at 12:10 AM on April 10, 2007

Best answer: Lully died after conducting too vigorously with his stick (which he was banging on the floor) and piercing his foot.
posted by altolinguistic at 7:36 AM on April 10, 2007

The opening music to Amadeus is Mozart's Symphony No. 25 in G minor; he wrote it when he was 17.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:44 AM on April 10, 2007

I don't know if the kids will like it, but I thought it was funny...

Robert Schumann's Piano Sonata in G Minor indicates that it should be played "as fast as possible". Then, later it says, "faster". And then finally, "faster still".
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:28 AM on April 10, 2007

Response by poster: How on earth does someone play the Schumann piece? Dance! Dance!!
posted by asuprenant at 10:16 AM on April 10, 2007

posted by Dave 9 at 10:30 AM on April 10, 2007

Best answer: Also, don't forget that Schumann went insane. (And had syphilis, but that part's not for kids.)
Erik Satie wrote "Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear." If you look at the page, he shaped the staves into a pear shape.
Vivaldi's nickname was "The Red Priest." It always struck me as funny. Plus he conducted orchestras of orphaned girls.
Kids might get a kick of the title and storyline of Shostakovich's opera The Nose.
For the Chicago Symphony Orchestra connection, the life story of Georg Solti is pretty fascinating.
I'm sure I'll think of more later....
posted by bassjump at 4:19 PM on April 10, 2007

Mozart (to take a cue from your headline) started composing when he was 5 and wrote his first symphony when he was 8. He's the poster boy for child prodigies.
Clement Janequin wrote pieces where the voices imitate the sounds of birds, war, and other extra-musical sounds. And Olivier Messiaen transcribed actual birdsong and incorporated much of it into his music.
This may be too technical, but Arnold Schoenberg allegedly once failed to notice when the clarinetist used the wrong clarinet in one of his pieces, so that the entire clarinet part was a half-step off until the clarinetist (not the composer!) realized the mistake.
There are also some early-music compositions that included ciphers, so that the singers had to figure out the riddle in order to determine who sang what when....
posted by bassjump at 4:43 AM on April 11, 2007

Definitely check out the picture book Notations by John Cage. You'll find a huge range of unusual scores including some conceptual pieces that are only instructions such as "Crawl into the vagina of a living whale" or "Draw a line and follow it."

The kids will like hearing about a lot of what happened in the Flux/conceptual movements. Show them some pics of Annea Lockwood's famous burning pianos.
posted by allterrainbrain at 4:26 PM on April 12, 2007

To clarify, Notations is a collection by Cage of scores by other composers.
posted by allterrainbrain at 4:27 PM on April 12, 2007

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