Category Archives: ABC blogging

Joplin and Janáček ~ Composer ABCs

This week we are talking about two completely different composers. Joplin is an American whose music falls into the ragtime and early jazz category. Janáček is a Czech composer whose style falls in the eras of Romantic/early 20th century. Joplin is highly known; Janáček is not. Joplin wrote mainly for piano; Janáček wrote a wide variety of music from sinfonetta to opera to chamber music. Night and day, almost.

Leoš Janáček

Let’s start with Janáček. At Home Dad actually recommended included this composer. I wasn’t so sure but when I listened to the Sinfonietta, I was hooked. I love good strong brass parts and Janáček delivers with them early on in this piece.

Leoš Janáček was born in Hukvaldy, in what was part of the Austrian Empire in 1854. His father was a teacher but he encouraged Janáček when he realized what an influence music had on his life. Janáček enjoyed singing in the church choir and pursued a music education as young man. He chose to follow composition, though it took until about 1916 for him to find success. This was when his opera was performed and became a success. During that time, he earned a living by teaching and directing music. After being a choirmaster for a while, he was able to enroll in the Prague Organ School. He quickly completed the course, 3 years in a single year. All of this led to the founding of the Organ School in 1881. Shortly after this, he became deeply interested in the Moravian language and the folk music of the area. This become quite a driving force in his music, as did his friendship with composer Dvorak. He is known for developing speech melodies, bits of music derived from the melodic intonations of the language.

I believe this is act 1 of the 3 act opera Jenufa.

In 1914, he was asked to rework bits of his opera Jenůfa for its premier in 1916. This work had been completed in 1903 but he agreed to modify parts of it yet still kept in his speech melodies. This opera was a spectacular success and at age 62, Janáček entered what is considered his most artistic period of composition. Some of the pieces from this period include the symphonic poem The Ballad of Blaník, finishing the opera Katya Kabanova, and starting on his next opera The Cunning Little Vixen. He also worked on a string quartet After Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata and began even another opera based on Karel Čapek’s The Makropulos Affair. He was a contemporary and fellow inductee to the Prussian Academy of Sciences with Arnold Schoenberg and Paul Hindemith.

As Janáček approached what was the end of his life, his music got “younger” and more progressive. He fit into the 20th century style well, refining it with his work. The last year of his life saw him create the opera From the House of the Dead based on a novel by Dostoyevsky and his string quartet no. 2 Intimate Letters. He died August 12, 1928, in Czechoslovakia.

Resources for Leoš Janáček

Scott Joplin

I could listen to recordings of Joplin for hours on end. I love the ragtime music he developed. He is truly one of the early innovators of American music and a fore-runner of the development of jazz, which is a truly American style of music.

Joplin is believed to have been born in northeast Texas in about 1867/1868. His exact date and place of birth are not recorded anywhere, though he is noted on the 1870 census for Texarkana. His family lived in Texarkana when he was child. Both his father and mother were musical and encouraged it in their children. Joplin became a solid banjo player at a young age. Shortly thereafter, he began to teach himself piano, when he was allowed to play the one in the home of his mother’s employer.

As a teen, Joplin left home to become a travelling musician. Many of the reports of his early life are anecdotal but there are reports of him playing with different groups all over the midwest. He is noted as being a part of a minstrel troupe in Texarkana in 1891. In 1893 he is believed to have been in Chicago, maybe for the World’s Fair, leading a band and playing cornet. He is believed to have returned to Sedalia, MO, after that, making it his home base.

He attended music classes at George R. Smith College in Sedalia. About this time, he was also teaching a few students and beginning his composing. He published his first pieces in 1896. In 1898, he sold his first rag, Original Rag. He was forced to give arrangement credit to another since he was not strong in notation. For his next piece that he sold, Maple Leaf Rag, he worked with a lawyer to make sure he got full credit. It was a slow start to publication in 1999 but within 10 year, it had sold over half a million copies.

As Joplin continued performing and composing, he travelled and wrote. He was married briefly two times. The first ended in divorce; the second ended when his wife died 10 weeks after their marriage. As Joplin continued writing, he published many, many rags. He also worked on operas. He had one that was produced – A Guest of Honor. It was to commemorate the visit of Booker T. Washington to the White House in 1901. It was going very well until the box office receipts were stolen and that led to the inability of bill payment and the shutting down of the production.

Joplin worked for many years on another opera – Treemonisha. This was set in a rural part of northeast Texas and featured the story of how Treemonisha, the only educated member of her community, led her town out of ignorance and superstition. It is considered an allegory of Joplin’s view of the African-American community of his time. He believed that education would bring racial equality for his people. It was not fully performed until 1972. In 1976, Joplin was awarded the Pulitzer Prize posthumously for this work.

Joplin became very sick, quite suddenly, and passed away in 1917 at the age of 48.

There are plenty of recordings of Joplin’s music. I’ll just put one more here that has 27 of his piano rags all together if you want to listen to more.

Resources for Scott Joplin

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B – Bernstein, Bizet, Bax
C – Copland
D – Debussy and de Meij
E – Elgar
F – Fauré
G – Grainger and Ginastera
H – Holst
I – Ives

Thank you for joining me this week for Composer ABCs. Please visit the hosts to find the linky and other participants.

Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook 
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses 

Featured from the letter ‘I’

Ives ~ Composer ABCs

Today we are looking at the American composer Charles Ives. Bridging the Romantic and 20th century music period dates, Ives’ music falls solidly into the 20th century category in technique.

Ives was born in Danbury, Connecticut, in 1874. His father was a bandmaster (having been the youngest bandmaster of the Civil War). Ives was taught music first by his father, who allowed him to experiment and taught him theory and harmony and counterpoint. His father allowed him to follow his ideas in music, which led to him pursuing them freely and with ambition.

At age 14, Ives became the youngest paid organist in Connecticut. By the age of 20, he had published a number of compositions. He continued his education at Yale and was enthusiastic in his pursuit of music, sports, and academics. He graduated from Yale in 1898. He continued as a church organist for several more years.

In 1899, Ives began working as an actuary for an insurance company. This became something he pursued, also. In 1907, he joined with another to form his own insurance company. He headed that company from 1916 until he retired in 1930. He was highly successful. One of his creations in insurance is widely known and used still today – estate planning. Ives is credited with this strategy of planning. He was incredibly successful as a businessman.

Ives as a business man by day and a composer by night. He wrote many pieces. Most of these were not well known during his lifetime but in his later years, when he struggled to compose new pieces, he worked on revising older pieces and premiering some of them.

As a composer, Ives experimented with music. He took inspiration from everything around him, considering that any sound could be considered music. He quoted folk songs (think Stephen Foster), gospel music, and symphonies (Beethoven) in his works. He utilized sounds from nature as inspiration (flutes trilling like birds). He took inspiration from poets and writers (Thoreau, Alcott, Hawthorne, Emerson). He added his own observations (two bands passing around the town square) and his knowledge of music. He created something quite new and different. And very American.

His techniques included bitonal (two tonal centers at once) and polytonal (3 or more tonal centers at once) music. He used tone clusters (thick groups of notes that are dissonant and harmonic at the same time). He utilized quarter tones (pitch changes smaller than a half step) and polyrhythms (two different time signatures at once). He experimented with aleatory elements (unregulated in rhythm, tempo, or some other aspect). Even with all of these new and unique and quite different ideas, Ives is considered an truly American composer. Some say his work truly represents America – free and yet still within some constraints.

Some of his music for you to listen to:
Variations on “America” – A piece I enjoyed playing, when it was arranged for concert band, though it was originally for organ. It has also been arranged for a number of different instrumentations. This is perhaps his earliest known composition.

The Unanswered Question – A chamber piece that was originally for a string quartet, a flute quartet, and a solo trumpet. It is quite a different piece but quite interesting to listen to.

The Circus Band March – Marches always have an exciting energy to them and Ives’ composition is no different. It is said to have been inspired by two different bands marching in a parade on different sides of a town square. Who knows, since it doesn’t appear that Ives commented on that, but it is a fun idea.

Resources for Charles Ives:

https://www.classicsforkids.com/composers/composer_profile.php?id=38

https://charlesives.org/ives-man-his-life

https://www.wisemusicclassical.com/composer/764/Charles-Ives/

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Charles-Edward-Ives

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Ives

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B – Bernstein, Bizet, Bax
C – Copland
D – Debussy and de Meij
E – Elgar
F – Fauré
G – Grainger and Ginastera
H – Holst

Thank you for joining me this week for Composer ABCs. Please visit the hosts to find the linky and other participants.

Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook  (Ironman Legos this week!) and
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses (Instagram Home educators to follow this week).

Featured from Week 4 all things ‘H’

Holst ~ Composer ABCs

Gustav Holst was born Sept. 21, 1874, and died May 25, 1934, at the age of 59. He was born into a family of musicians, going back three generations. His grandfather had been a Latvian composer of harp music who moved to England. Holst was a natural at music, learning the piano and violin at a young age. Unfortunately, he had a nerve issue in his right hand and was unable to continue playing piano. He switched to trombone and spent many years playing to supplement his composing income.

After his education at a boys school, he attended the Royal College of Music. He learned composition and met Ralph Vaughn Williams, another composer who became a lifelong friend. Largely influenced by the music of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, Holst’s compositions grew and changed. While in London a bit later, he became interested in ancient texts, the Hindu philosophy, and learned Sanskrit so he could translate his own pieces. This influenced much of his writing and many of his pieces.

Holst was also influenced by the writings of George Bernard Shaw and William Morris, both outspoken socialists. Other writers were also influential for Holst, including Walt Whitman, Thomas Hardy, and Robert Bridges. The world that Holst was living and working in was changing and growing quickly, moving from the Romantic era of art and music into the 20th century.

Holst married a soprano from one of the choirs his directed and they seem to have had a pleasant life. They had one daughter, Isobel, that is noted in most biographies.

Holst is most well known for an orchestral piece, The Planets. This is a seven movement pieces, each movement named for one of the planets known at the time. Most popular of these are “Jupiter – Bringer of Jollity” and “Mars – Bringer of War.” This piece came about after a period where Holst traveled to Spain with Arthur Bax, his brother Clifford Bax, and Balfour Gardiner. Clifford Bax introduced him to astrology and he became fascinated with it. This fascination with the stars and skies led to what became the orchestral suite The Planets. The piece was almost immediately popular and this seems to have been an area of irritation to Holst since he was not completely pleased with this piece. This piece did, however, secure his financial situation.

Holst spent the second half of his life teaching, particular at St. Paul’s Girls School. He began teaching there in 1904 and taught there until the end of his life. He wrote the St. Paul’s Suite for the opening of the music wing at the girls school. He also taught at Morley College. The students of Morley College helped transcribe the 500 page score a newly found piece by 17th century composer Henry Purcell. The students wrote out the score, orchestra parts, and vocal parts for The Fairy Queen and then they performed it. It was a stunning success.

From his Indian influences, many works emerged. One of the best known is the grand opera Sita. He also wrote songs with vedic settings. Another piece included in this influence set would be Sivitri, which is a chamber opera.

Not mentioned in many biographies about Holst is his wind band music. He was actually a fairly driving force in the early stages of wind bands of the early 20th centure. His military band music is still important in the band world today. He wrote First Suite in E-flat for Military Band in 1909 and Second Suite in F Major for Military Band in 1911. Neither of these pieces appear to have been premiered until the early 1920s.

Holst experimented with music of all sorts and writing styles of all sorts. He wrote psalms in plainsong, experimented with minimalism, echoed the style of Gilbert and Sullivan, wrote opera like the 16th century composers, set traditional texts to music, used folk songs and elements of them in pieces, and studied, translated, and utilized ancient texts. If you are looking for a composer with a huge range and variety of pieces to experience, Holst is one to study.

Reference materials for Holst:
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/6380559/gustav-holst
https://www.classicsforkids.com/composers/composer_profile.php?id=37
https://www.classicfm.com/composers/holst/guides/holst-facts/
https://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Holst-Gustav.htm
https://www.wisemusicclassical.com/composer/712/Gustav-Holst/
http://www.gustavholst.info/biography/index.php?chapter=1
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Gustav-Theodore-Holst
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustav_Holst

Note: I know lots of folks do not like Wikipedia. For composers, however, it is a great source list of pieces. You will often find pieces and links to them mentioned in Wikipedia that exist but other biographies do not deem worth mentioning. An example of this is the military suites by Holst. They are a staple of the band world today yet are seldom mentioned in standard biographies.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B – Bernstein, Bizet, Bax
C – Copland
D – Debussy and de Meij
E – Elgar
F – Fauré
G – Grainger and Ginastera

Thank you for joining me this week for Composer ABCs. Please visit the hosts to find the linky and other participants.

Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook  (Harry Potter this week!) and
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses (Homeschool Bloggers this week).

Featured from Week 4 all things ‘G’

Grainger, Ginastera ~ Composer ABCs

This letter was hard to pick; there are quite a few other composers I could have included. But top of my list had to be Grainger. Percy Grainger’s Children’s March is one that happily frolicks in my head many a day and I love it. Grainger’s pieces were always a joy to perform and I still love listening to them. Alberto Ginastera had to go on the list because, as a French horn player, he wrote fabulous pieces that were transcribed for wind ensemble. They were challenging but tons of fun.

Percy Grainger

Percy Grainger was born in Australia in 1882 to an architect/engineer father and a mother who encouraged his visual and musical art abilities. He learned to play piano first and then added harmony studies and composition later. He was primarily known as a pianist for a long time, commanding top performance fees and playing to sold-out crowds.

When he was about 11, he had his debut concert and was well received. He and his mother (his father had left) moved to Europe when he was 13 so that Grainger could continue his studies. He enrolled in Hoch Conservatorium in Frankfurt, Germany, to study composition and piano. In 1901, he then moved to London. While in London, he became known worldwide as a pianist. He also began to collect English folk songs which made their way into his compositions. Some examples of these folk songs influencing his music are found in the excepts shared here: Country Gardens, Over The Hills and Far Away (The Children’s March), and Lincolnshire Posy. These are well known and universally played band arrangements.

Grainger is also well known for championing the music of the Nordic lands and peoples. Frederick Delius and Edvard Grieg were two important friendships that Grainger maintained.

In 1914, Grainger moved to America. He became a naturalized citizen. He lived in America the rest of his life, though he was constantly touring and visiting both Australia and Europe. Grainger became very involved in educational works and set up a museum in his name in Melbourne, his birthplace. As he aged, he continued to perform and to write and revise his works. He gave his final performance less than a year before his death in 1960.

Note – There are some hints (and perhaps more blantant statements than I found) of unseemly behavior on the part of his father in some of the resources out there. Just a note prior to having students research.

This is the first movement of the suite and it should continue playing on through all movements. If it doesn’t, you can watch on YouTube and it will play all movements. It is worth listening to them all.

Additional Resources on Percy Grainger:

https://grainger.unimelb.edu.au/discover/percy-graingers-timeline
https://grainger.unimelb.edu.au/discover/biography
https://www.percygraingeramerica.org/
https://percygraingeramerica.org/bio
https://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Grainger-Percy.htm

Ginastera

This is a movement from Estancia

Alberto Ginastera (pronounced with the Spanish J/H sound) was born in 1916 in Argentina. He is considered one of the America’s most important 20th century composers. Born in Buenos Aires, he studied music privately as a child and then enrolled in the National Conservatoire of Music there. Beginning composing in his youth, he won his first prize in 1934 with Piezas Infantiles for piano. Also in 1934 he wrote Impresiones de la Puna, for flute & string quartet. These pieces and the next ones that he wrote featured heavily the authentic sounds and folk music of his native country Argentina. Through about 1947, he wrote strongly nationalistic pieces.

In the late 1940s, he traveled to the USA on a Guggenheim fellowship and studied with Aaron Copland. From this point forward, Ginastera’s music began to change a bit and featured less obvious folk melodies, though they were still present. Following a year in the US, he returned to Argentina and continued composing. His works through this period continued to focus on the sights and sounds of the Gaucho traditions.

In the late 1950s, Ginastera’s style changed yet again to a much more 20th century style. He still called upon the Gaucho tradition and traditional melodies but they are not so easy to recognize in his music. He also began using the serial techniques and 12 tone techniques popular with composers such as Berg. Throughout his life, Ginastera was an influential composer who touched many of the composers to come after him in Argentina. He wrote in all genres, though not really more prolific in one than in another.

In researching this post, I found out that Ginastera wrote some amazing pieces for individual instruments. One of those was the harp. This blog post by Yolanda Kondonassis was quite interesting to read about playing one of Ginastera’s harp pieces. There are some track previews available on the post showing off the unique writing Ginastera did for the harp.

Further resources for Alberto Ginastera:

https://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Ginastera-Alberto.htm
https://www.boosey.com/pages/cr/composer/composer_main?composerid=2699&ttype=BIOGRAPHY
https://www.boosey.com/pages/focus/?url=/focus/ginasteracentennial.htm
https://www.boosey.com/pages/cr/composer/composer_main?composerid=2699&ttype=BIOGRAPHY
https://www.naxos.com/person/Alberto_Ginastera/26054.htm

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Thank you for joining me this week for Composer ABCs. Please visit the hosts to find the linky and other participants.



Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook and
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B – Bernstein, Bizet, Bax
C – Copland
D – Debussy and de Meij
E – Elgar
F – Fauré

Fauré – Composer ABCs

Gabriel Fauré is a French composer who lived from 1845 – 1924. He bridged the Romantic period and the 20th century. He was taught and influenced by many (now) well-known composers and he taught and influenced many who became well-known composers and musicians.

Fauré began, as many composers do, with piano. When he was just 9 years old, he was heard playing by Louis Neidermeyer. Neidermeyer was so impressed that he was immediately enrolled as a student at Ecole Neidermeyer. One of his teachers there was Saint-Saëns, who is on our list to look at when we reach the letter S. Studying at the music school brought out even more of Fauré’s ability. When he left the school after about 11 years, he had earned recognition and prized in piano, organ, and composition.

Fauré spent much of his life as an organist, teacher, and composer, though the last 10 years of his life were his most prolific writing period. While studying at the music school, he studied music by Wagner and Lizst and Chopin, among others. These were considered quite modern composers and not preferred by many of the instructors at this time.

In 1896, Fauré was appointed as an instructor at the Paris Conservatoire. He took over as head of the conservatoire. He instituted many changes that were not well liked, including studying some of the music that other instructors of this time did not approve of. Many instructors resigned as a result. He remained at head of the Paris Conservatoire until 1920, influencing composers such as Debussy and Ravel. He resigned then because of increasing deafness and ill health. He died in 1924 of pneumonia.

Fauré is not well known for his larger works, though he did write a few. He is mostly known for his smaller, more intimate pieces. His first piece was Trois romances sans paroles (1863). He was still a student when he wrote it. Below is number 3 of the trio.

Some of the piano pieces that Fauré wrote include thirteen nocturnes, thirteen barcarolles, six impromptus, and four valses-caprices. His also wrote a number of shorter piano pieces and a set of piano duets known as the Dolly Suite.

Perhaps one of his more well known pieces is one of his many, many songs. Clair de lune, (“Moonlight”) Op. 46 No 2, is a song composed in 1887 to words by Paul Verlaine.

Other vocal works include a couple of operas, which are seldom performed, and Requiem in D minor, Op. 48. Fauré’s Requiem is a bit different than most in that he omits the Dies irae, an unusual thing. In 1921, he is quoted about this piece saying “Everything I managed to entertain by way of religious illusion I put into my Requiem, which moreover is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest.” According to sources, the last two parts of this piece are heard in many movies.

Another type of composing that Fauré did was incidental music for plays and dramas. His most famous is for Maurice Maeterlinck’s play Pelleas et Melisande (1898). Below is the suite for this Op. 80.

Resources for more reading:
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Gabriel-Faure
https://www.classicfm.com/composers/faure/guides/faure-15-facts-about-great-composer/
https://www.classicfm.com/composers/faure/
https://www.sfcv.org/learn/composer-gallery/gabriel-faure
https://www.classicsforkids.com/composers/composer_profile.php?id=26

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Thank you for joining me this week for Composer ABCs. Please visit the hosts to find the linky and other participants.

Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook and
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B – Bernstein, Bizet, Bax
C – Copland
D – Debussy and de Meij
E – Elgar

Elgar – Composer ABCs

Edward Elgar was an English composer, though much of his influence came from mainland Europe. He was born in 1857 and died in 1934. He was born into a musical family, of sorts. His father was a piano tuner and owned a small music shop where he sold printed music and instruments. His mother was very supportive of the creative education and made sure his music studies continued. He was the 4th of 7 children so they did not have a lot of money.

As Elgar approached the end of his general education, he desired to go to a music conservatory in Germany but was unable to do so. His father just could not afford to send him. So, he left school at 15 or 16 and took a clerk position at a solicitor’s office. He could not abide the desk job and soon left to make his way in the music world.

He did odd jobs and worked all he could. He conducted, played instruments (he was a talented pianist and bassoonist, plus he knew many other instruements), wrote music, taught private students, and more. He achieved a bit of success with his early compositions but did not gain great reknown until 1899. Prior to this success, he had taken on a student, Caroline Alice Roberts, a wealthy young lady who was also an author. They were married in 1889. She became a sort of muse and inspiration to Elgar, a force behind what was to become some of his most well-known works.

Likely Elgar’s most well-known piece is the first of his five Pomp and Circumstance Marches. He wrote this one in 1901. If you think you don’t recognize it, wait until about 1’50” to see if you don’t know it.

Elgar wrote a number of different pieces – from syphonic marches like the one above to full symphony pieces to concertos for single instruments to opera pieces and more. The following is probably the piece for which Elgar is best known by title, Enigma Variations. It is wonderful piece. Each variation is a musical example of someone Elgar knew and represented in music. The enigma part is that Elgar never specifically noted which variation represented who.

Elgar died a well known composer but he didn’t write all that much after his wife passed away in 1920. She was truly his muse. He left several incomplete pieces when he died several years after his wife. Regardless, he is a great composer to listen to.

Some of his other pieces:

Salut d’amour is said to have been written as an engagement gift to Caroline Alice Roberts in 1888.

Serenade for Strings is one of Elgar’s early works and won him a little bit of international reknown. It is from about 1892. It is a 3 movement work.

If you are looking for more information on Sir Edward Elgar, here are some additional sites to visit.

https://www.elgar.org/2english.htm

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Edward-Elgar

https://www.classicfm.com/composers/elgar/

https://www.classicfm.com/composers/elgar/guides/elgar-facts-great-composer/elgar-conducting/

https://www.classicsforkids.com/composers/composer_profile.php?id=25

https://kids.kiddle.co/Edward_Elgar

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Thank you for joining me this week for Composer ABCs. Please visit the hosts to find the linky and other participants.

Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook and
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B – Bernstein, Bizet, Bax
C – Copland
D – Debussy and de Meij

Debussy and de Meij ~ Composer ABCs

Today we are going to look at two very different composers. One is thought of symphonic and uses a lot of folk music. He wrote for every instrument, for opera, for piano, for theater, and more. One is a composer for band or wind ensemble and uses a whole lot of different techniques.

Claude Debussy is a French composer from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. He is considered an impressionist composer and utilized a lot of the early 20th century composition ideas. As a young boy, Debussy was showing interest and talent as a pianist. He studied piano and attended the Paris Conservatory, winning several prizes, including the Grand Prix de Rome.

Claire de Lune is an early piece by Debussy that many are familiar with. It is indicative of the use of folk music and rich harmony, evoking emotion. Much of Debussy’s music is in the Impressionist style, meaning it is intended to be poetic and picturesque. This type of music is intended to help the mind create images from the music.

One of my favorites of Debussy is Le Mer. This piece of music is for orchestra but invokes the mood of the sea, with beautiful musical pictures drawn.

Debussy was influences by visual artists, particularly the Impressionist painters. He was also widely influenced by composers such as German Wagner and Russians Borodin and Mussorgsky.

And one more fun piece to listen to by Debussy – Golliwog’s Cakewalk


Some websites to check out about Debussy:
https://kids.kiddle.co/Claude_Debussy
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Claude-Debussy
https://www.biography.com/musician/claude-debussy


If you are a fan of the JRR Tolkein books, you should really enjoy this next composer. Johan de Meij has written a fabulous piece for wind ensemble (band) based off of the Lord of The Rings. de Meij is a Dutch composer born in 1953. He studied trombone and conducting at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. He is a performer with both trombone and euphonium. However, he has gained international fame for his composing and conducting.

Symphony No. 1 “The Lord of the Rings” is where he gained his first international recognition and won prizes for it. He has since gone on to additional writing and fame with symphonies, symphonic poems, and solo concertos.

By far, my favorite is his writing Symphony No 1. Our college ensemble was privileged to play it within a few years of it coming out and it has been a favorite of mine since. It is a joy to play and a joy to listen to. I will link the movements of it below. There are 5 movements and these are performed by The United States Marine Band, conducted for this performance by Johan de Meij.

For more information on de Meij, you can visit these sites. He is a living composer so his biographies are not quite as extensive as other composers you might be exposed to.

https://johandemeij.com/biography
https://www.allmusic.com/artist/johan-de-meij-mn0001650712/biography
https://www.world-projects.net/faculty/johan-de-meij/
https://www.naxos.com/person/Johan_de_Meij/27794.htm

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Thank you for joining me this week for Composer ABCs. Please visit the hosts to find the linky and other participants.

Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook and
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B – Bernstein, Bizet, Bax
C – Copland


Aaron Copland ~ ABCs of Composers

Copland was one of my very first choices when I decided to share about composers for this series. I adore so much of his music. It is true Americana and reflects the hope and joy of America. So many of my “favorite” pieces are by Copland that I just had to share him with you.

There are many sites where you can read more about Copland and many pieces to listen to that will really help you learn about Aaron Copland. Listen to the composer’s music is really where you learn about the person and their music. You can read all the words you want but until you absorb the music, you don’t really know. So, let’s start with Hoe-Down.

Fanfare for the Common Man is a piece that you probably have heard often but may not know where it comes from. Well, it is one of the well-known pieces by Aaron Copland. Isn’t it a gloriously strong fanfare? Have your students listen and draw what they feel while listening to it. This brass and percussion heavy piece evokes strong emotions.

Hoe-Down is a piece from the ballet Rodeo. It is probably well-known by most but is a fun piece to have kids listen and move to. They will mimic the sounds in lots of interesting ways. It was one of my favorites to do with my Kinder, 1st, and 2nd graders when I taught music.

Appalachian Spring is another ballet that you have likely heard. This was created in conjunction with the dancer Martha Graham. It is a gentle and lovely piece to start but you begin to hear the joyful exclamations of spring as the music continues. This small chamber orchestra does a lovely job of performing this piece.

Copland was born in 1900 in America to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. He attended schools in New York City. His older sister taught him to play the piano and by 15, he had chosen to be a composer. He was a student under Nadia Boulanger in Paris and learned a great deal about composition from her.

He grew in his abilities quickly and returned to America three years later. His career took off quickly from there, including a commissioned piece from Nadia Boulanger for organ. He became one of the foremost American composers. He took included the folk music and culture into his compositional styles and you can hear it in a lot of his music.

Copland was a musician, composer, teacher, writer, and conductor. He was a true American and his influence in 20th century music is still strong.

Websites on Aaron Copland:
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Aaron-Copland
https://www.biography.com/musician/aaron-copland
https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/aaron-copland-about-the-composer/475/
https://www.aaroncopland.com/

Don’t leave this composer out of your music studies. Students love to listen to his music and it brings America to life.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Thank you for joining me this week for Composer ABCs. Please visit the hosts to find the linky and other participants.

Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook and
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B – Bernstein, Bizet, Bax

Bernstein, Bizet, Bax – ABCs of composers

B is one of those letters that I had to make choices for. So many interesting composers to choose from.

Leonard Bernstein

Bernstein is known for a wide variety of musical styles in his composing but he is also known as a master conductor, a philanthropist, a pianist, a music educator, and more. I was able to play in the pit orchestra while in college for a production of his West Side Story musical. Such a fun and challenging piece to play. It was a great experience. This is a musical that our family enjoys but it was one we waited a bit to show the girls. It has some great musical complexity and variety, which is often evident in Bernstein’s music.

Bernstein’s family lived in the northeast. His family was not particularly musical but when the family was given a piano, Bernstein taught himself to play. He was 10. From there, his love and learning in music grew quickly. He attended university and studied music. When he was just 25 years old, he was made assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic. He spent much time traveling to conduct orchestras around the world.

He wrote pieces such as the operetta Candide, based on a libretto (lyrics) from Voltaire. He wrote symphonies, including Symphony No. 1: Jeremiah, in 1943 (some place this in 1942 and others in 1944). His symphonies were influenced by his Jewish heritage. He also worked with Jerome Robbins to create not only West Side Story but some ballets as well. His composing was prolific.

Bernstein was an advocate for American composers. He sought to help other composers, such as Copeland and Ives.

Probably one of the most important works he did was to embrace the Young People’s Concerts with the New York Philharmonic. These were live but also broadcast on television. This brought music to children and into homes, making it fun and accessible for everyone. Here is a sample of one of the Young People’s Concerts, introduced by Whoopi Goldberg.

Georges Bizet

This may be one you think you don’t recognize but I’ll bet you do. Take a listen to this piece.

This is Farandole from L’Arlésienne. This was dramatic music for a play. Very popular then and still well known today. I’ll bet you hummed along. 🙂

What about this piece?

This is the Overture to the opera Carmen, written by Bizet in 1875. It opened in Paris to terrible reviews. It was too real for too many of the critics. However, it was well accepted before too long. However, Bizet never knew it because he died shortly after the opening of the opera.

Bizet was another whose family encouraged him to pursue his musical ability. So much so that his family is said to have hidden his books so he would work more on music and less on reading stories. His musical ability brought some fabulous melodies to life for us.

Arnold Bax

These are two of my favorites to listen to and/or play from the letter B. I also looked at Bax. Sir Arnold Edward Trevor Bax, knighted in 1937, was a composer of symphonies but also an author, playwright, and poet. He was highly influenced by the sights, sounds, and culture of Ireland. The music of Russia and the music of English composer Ralph Vaughn Williams.

I didn’t know anything about this composer until my husband and I were putting the list of composers together to study. He had recently comes across a number of CDs of Bax’s music in the racks of Half Price Books, his favorite place to search out new music to explore. Bax’s music falls into the late Romantic/early 20th century realm. It is described as Romantic, for the most part. My husband really enjoyed the music and so now I am exploring this composer a bit, too. Here is a piece of his.

Thank you for joining me this week for Composer ABCs. Please visit the hosts to find the linky and other participants.

Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook and
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Composer ABCs in this series:
A – Leroy Anderson
B –

Leroy Anderson – ABCs of composers

Quality music for me can come either from something I like to listen to, something that is interesting and unique, or something that I enjoy(ed) playing in band and orchestra. My ABC list is going to be some of the composers that I enjoy.

Leroy Anderson

Most band musicians know him as the composer of Sleigh Ride. It is played at the close of lots of holiday concerts. It is a fun piece to hear.

Leroy Anderson (1908-1975) was a prolific composer. He was born in Cambridge, MA, to Swedish immigrants who came to the US as children. They were a musical family and Leroy started piano lessons at age 5. In high school, he played the trombone in the band and joined the mandolin club. He was asked to learn to play double bass, according to one story, which he did in a weekend. He played it so well after practicing for the weekend that one would have thought he had practiced all year.

He was so astute musically that he was asked to compose a song for the graduating class in 1923, again in 1924, and for his own graduation in 1925. He also conducted the orchestra for these. After graduating, Anderson attended Harvard. He earned his B.A. and his M.A. in music. He continued his studies at Harvard to get a Ph.D. in linguistics. He was a master at languages, eventually learning 9 different languages.

From Harvard, Anderson’s abilities and activities grew. He was a gifted composer but he was also a gifted conductor. Both of these are seen when you look at his list of associations he was a part of through the years.

Whether you enjoy band music, orchestra music, vocal pieces, or individual instrument pieces, there is something that Anderson created that you will enjoy.

Websites to view more information:

http://www.leroyanderson.com/biography.php – official biography page

https://www.pbs.org/sleighride/Biography/Bio.htm – PBS biography page for the special on Leroy Anderson

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91935049 – NPR composer page

https://www.classicfm.com/composers/anderson/guides/leroy-anderson-gallery/leroy-anderson-composer/ – A life in pictures

Music Pieces:

The Typewriter

The Syncopated Clock

A CD sitting on our shelf is titled Erich Kunzel Rochester Pops ‎– Syncopated Clock And Other Favorites By Leroy Anderson. It is a great introduction to Leroy Anderson and has lots of fun, instrumental music.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Visit the other participants in this round of ABC blogging through the linky at

Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook and
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

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