Clueless about classical music? Then, help is at hand.
The BBC Ten Pieces scheme has been running since 2014, with the aim of educating children about Mozart, Mussorgsky, and all the rest – but it is a very good primer for adults, too.
The latest list of 10 works (it’s probably ok to call them songs, too) includes music by Purcell, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius, alongside a new piece, written especially for this project by Kerry Andrew.
The schoolchildren will be able to hear the Ten Pieces performed live at concerts across the UK throughout the year; while BBC orchestras and the choir and the Ulster Orchestra in Northern Ireland, will give free coaching for the young musicians.
And on Monday, November 13, a “live lesson” will be transmitted in schools, with the Royal Opera House and Royal Ballet School to encourage children aged seven to 11 to create their own original dances for Tchaikovsky’s the nutcracker.
Here’s everything you need to know about the music selected for this year, Ten Parts.1) Henry Purcell: Rondeau from Abdelazer
Who was Purcell?
Henry Purcell was the most important English composer of the 17th Century. It started as a child in the choir of the Chapel Royal, but had to leave when his voice broke. Subsequently, it became the organ tuner – and then the organ player to the Abbey of Westminster. His other official positions included “composer in ordinary to the king” and “royal instrument keeper”. A prolific writer, he is best known for his choral works, as well as the incidental music he wrote for the theatre, the productions, making him the John Williams of his day.
What is a Rondeau?
Rondeau was written for a play called Abdelazar (or The Moor’s Revenge) – who is no longer performed. It was created in 1695, the year of the death of Purcell at the tragically young age of 35 years.
A short baroque piece, it is perhaps best known as the basis of Benjamin Britten’s Young person’s Guide to the Orchestra.
Where will I have heard?
It was the theme to the 1969 TV show The Churchills, and this is a recurring theme in the Wes Anderson film Moonrise Kingdom.
2) Joseph de Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Allegro (1st movement) from the Symphony N Â° 1 in g major
That was Bologna?
The son of a plantation owner and his slave mistress – who became a virtuoso violinist and a close friend of Queen Marie-Antoinette. Before the revolution in France, it is also famous as a swordsman and equestrian, and has become known as the “black Mozart”.
Tell me about the allegro.
A usually short and lively dance number, it was written to highlight Bologna’s own skills on the violin.
3) Antonin Dvorak: The New World – Largo (2nd movement of the Symphony no. 9 in e minorWho was Dvorak?
The son of a village innkeeper and butcher, the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak exhibited a remarkable talent for music as a child and played the violin since the age of six years. As a composer, he drew on Czech folk music, and his works are noted for their variety of rhythmic and melodic invention.
What is special about this piece?
Dvorak wrote this symphony during his stay in America – the “new world” of the title. He was fascinated by the native American music and African-American spirituals, and developed these themes in his symphony. But the composer has also felt the evil of the country – and that has seeped into the music, too.
Did you know?
Neil Armstrong took a recording of the Symphony of the New World on the Moon in 1969.
4) Edward Elgar: Theme (Enigma), the variations of 11, 6 and 7 of the Enigma Variations
On the composer
Sir Edward Elgar’s father owned a music store and taught his son piano, organ, and violin. Apart from that, Elgar was largely self-taught but went on to become one of England’s most important composers. His music is inventive and full of resources, drawing inspiration from the culture and the landscape of England. The first of his pomp and Circumstance marches, also known as the Land of Hope and Glory, is a non-official “second national anthem”, but he is best known for the Enigma Variations. Speaking of which…
Who is the enigma?
It was the Composer himself. He improvised the main theme in the piano and, after his wife praised the melody, he began to play around, suggesting how different friends can play. The Variation of six is based on one of his students, while the variation of the seven mocks the limited piano skills of his friend, Arthur Troyte Griffith. The 11 variation, during this time, was inspired by his friend’s bulldog to fall into a lake.
Where could I have heard?
Dance anthem Clubbed to Death by Rob D samples, the first movement of Elgar’s Enigma Variations, while the solo piano improvisation around the main theme. The song has been included in The Matrix.
5) Jean Sibelius: Finlandia
That was Sibelius?
A composer of finland, whose works are often personal and mystical, while containing a strong streak of nationalism. It was so popular in its country of origin, which, by the time he was 32, he was awarded a lifetime grant by the state which allows him to devote his career to composition.
What is Finlandia?
Sibelius wrote this in 1899, as a protest against increasing censorship of the Finnish press by the Tsarist russia. The opening passages are turbulent and urgent, a symbol of the struggle of the Finnish people, but later gives way to the more serene, full of hope Finlandia Hymn.
Where could I have heard?
Finlandia prominently in the score of Die Hard 2: Die Harder. The film has nothing to do with Finland – but the director, Renny Harlin, was born in Riihimaki.
6) Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Waltz of the Flowers; the Russian Dance from the nutcracker
Who was Tchaikovsky?
The most popular Russian composer of all time, thanks to his sense of the, melodic music.
The nutcracker… I’ve heard of that
You don’t say? A Christmas classic, “fairy tale ballet” has captivated audiences since its premiere in Saint Petersburg, 125 years ago. Waltz of the Flowers and the Russian Dance are two of the most recognizable moments in the 90 minutes of the piece.
Where could I have heard?
Just about everywhere. The most famous, the Russian Dance provides the theme of the classic video game Tetris.
7) Carl Orff: O fortuna from Carmina Burana
That was Orff?
Carl Orff is a German musician who, in addition to his very successful career as a composer, helped to make music education more accessible in the design of a range of instruments (Orff instruments) that allow children to play music without formal training.
What is O fortuna?
Inspired by a medieval poem about the Roman Goddess of fate, O fortuna has been called “the most overused piece of music in the history of cinema”.
Simon Cowell is a fan
If you have seen The X Factor, you’ve heard O Fortuna. It is dramatic, tension-building orchestral piece that announces the arrival of Simon Cowell on stage (he probably thinks he sounds bad, but the piece is, in fact, very religious). If you don’t watch the X Factor, the song was also featured at the Excalibur, and the Old Spice after-shave ads.
8) Aaron Copland: Rodeo-Hoe-Down
Who was Aaron Copland?
An AMERICAN musician, often referred to as “the Dean of American Composers”. A pianist since the age of five years, he has won an Oscar for his score to The Heiress, and a Pulitzer Prize in 1945 for Appalachian Spring.
And he has written a Rodeo Hoe-Down?
Pretty much. Imagine what would happen if a band soundtracked a line dance and you’re pretty much there. Capture the spirit of the American pioneers, it captures the force and energy of the square dance as cowgirls and boys to marry. 9) Mason Bates: Sprite: A Bao A Qu from Anthology of Zoology Fantastic
Who is Mason Bates?
Recently named the most performed composer of his generation, 40-year-old Mason Bates that combines symphonic music with the rhythms and instruments of the culture of the club. He combines his career classic, with a sideline as a DJ.
What is a Sprite?
Inspired by creatures of Borges, Book of Imaginary Beings, ” Sprite: A Bao A That promises to “evoke ideas and pictures of our imagination”. 10) Kerry Andrew – No Place Like
Who is Kerry Andrew?
The only woman composer in the Ten Songs of the directory, Kerry has been specially commissioned by the BBC to write a song a capella for the children to perform in schools.
Why is she coming?
No Place Like is a song about the house – with words and words suggested by the children in over 100 schools across the country.
“I was really interested asks the children where they came from and I had a lot of really fascinating answers,” Andrew told the BBC News.
“I’ve noticed that a lot of themes: Home is where the love and trust, but I also chose ideas that he felt individual.
“In the end, I made this very long poem, and had to zoom in and choose my favorite – or those who felt they were long enough to be sung, and who felt as if they were the children of the words as a whole.”
The finished piece uses the form of a round (such as london’s Burning or the Three Blind Mice); but also includes a variety of noises and voice – including percussion instruments – to enable the children to explore the different ways in which they can contribute to a piece of music.
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