Modest Mussorgsky – Composer ABCs

We are starting today way over in Russia. Modest Mussorgsky was a Russian and is best known for how well he captured the feel of Russia in his music. He wrote music in all sorts of genres, many of the pieces of which were left unfinished at his death and were completed by other Russian composers or were orchestrated by other Russian composers to bring them to performance. Mussorgsky’s music is bold, haunting, frantic, soothing, and so much more.

Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky was born in the Russian village of Karevo, Russia, in 1839. He died in 1881 in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was first given piano lessons by his mother, who recognized his talent. He began playing pieces by Franz Liszt at age 7 and was giving performances by age 9. He was enrolled in a military school and able to continue to study music alongside his military education. He graduated a received a commission in one of the premier military guards.

Music was an outlet for Mussorgsky and he had creative ideas that were so new and different that others didn’t know what to do with them. During his late teen years, he met several important Russian composers who taught and encouraged him. They are collectively known as “The Five” or “The Mighty” and they include Aleksandr Borodin, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Mily Balakirev, and César Cui. These men tend to be grouped together because they strove to portray Russia in their music. Through lyrics, sounds, folk music, and more, they worked to promote a national school of Russian music. The influence of these men on Mussorgsky is strong.

Mussorgsky did not do a lot to succeed in music and much of his great success came along after his death. He became an alcoholic and died of a heart condition related to alcoholism immediately after his 42nd birthday. His music related the history, folktales, legends, characteristics, language, and emotion of Russia. His song cycles are considered the first to really fit the rhythm and lilt of the Russian language to music.

Likely his most famous work is titled Pictures at an Exhibition. It was written after the death of a dear artist friend of Mussorgsky’s. It is programmatic in its writing and sound, depicting a variety of pictures through music. It is composed to take the listener through an exhibition of an artist’s work, each movement depicting a different place, person, or feel. There is a recurring theme meant to represent the composer wandering through the exhibit so it come back over and over through the work. The first video below is the original orchestration – solo piano. It was arranged for orchestra by Maurice Ravel and there are many recordings of it available performed by full orchestra.

Another of Mussorgsky’s famous pieces is Night on Bald Mountain. It was orchestrated by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The piece is based on a legend about a night where witches meet Satan on a mountain. (I didn’t know this until I was working on this post but I have known the piece for years!) It was based on a written piece by Nikolai Gogol titled St. John’s Eve.

Resources for Mussorgsky:

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
J – Joplin and Janacek
K – Kern
L – Liszt

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 – This week is M is for Mindstorms and Minifigs
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses – This week is Math Resources ofr Home Education.

Other posts from the week of Letter L –

Online Book Club – end of June wrap up for Beach

You know, June kind of flew by and I don’t know where it went! Actually, I do – church camps and dance. A lovely time but here we are and June is now done. So, what did I read that hits the theme of “Beach?” I’ve got two for you and neither were planned, which is kind of fun.

Sprinting Through No Man’s Land: Endurance, Tragedy, and Rebirth in the 1919 Tour de France by Adin Dobkin

This was a Kindle book I grabbed when it was free. I thought it sounded sort of interesting. It is. I am really enjoying it but it is a slow read for me so I’m not quite done with it. I thought it sort of hit the brief for the theme of beach because the beaches come up several times as they travel around France.

This is the story of the 1919 Tour de France. Most, if not all, of the cyclists were straight off the battle field. No training, little to no time for family, poor bicycles, and lots of hardship. These men were willing to do this not for the prize money but for the strength of the country. France needed this and these men were doing more of what they had done as soldiers – stay strong for the good of the country. This is the story of their hardships – they were lied to about what the conditions of the road were; they were supposed to have tires provided and did not; they had strict rules to follow that made horrible conditions worse; and much more.

I did not know that they ran the Tour that year but this is a whole new look at it. I have enjoyed this story and will enjoy it to the end. It is a tough narrative to read as it isn’t the exciting retelling that you might expect but it is written with as straight-forward a telling as possible so that you are not swayed with emotion – good or bad – for the riders or the organizers or the people along the way. It does bring to light the condition of so many in the year 1919 as the war ended. I can definitely recommend this book.

The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook

I found this a quick and fun little book to read about getting one’s life back on track after a shift in your plans that you can’t plan for. Noreen is sidetracked by a layoff, losing everything that she thought defined who she was. In trying to get herself back to, well, herself, she makes some new friends and they start walking together. This builds a strong friendship and they all help each other through life transitions, difficulties, and the joy of day to day living. This is the kind of book that you want to read just for fun and you sort of fly through.

So, why is this a beach read? Well, they spend a large part of their walking time on the beach. So, there you go. 🙂 Living close to a beach made it possible for them so it plays into their story a bit.

I just found out that it is technically book 1 of a series so maybe I’ll look for the others just for the fun of it. I loved that it was a beach read that was about friendship, not romance. That is a bit unusual. Yes, there is a smidge of that but it is all a part of the friendship/getting life back together stuff, not the whole book.

Other books read, non-beach-themed include:
These Tangled Vines – by Julianne Maclean (fiction)
Immerse – by Dale Jenkins (non-fiction, Biblical)
Vienna Prelude – by Bodie Thoene (fiction)
Hey Ranger! – by Jim Burnett (non-fiction)
Help Your Kids Learn & Love The Bible – by Danika Cooley (non-fiction, review coming up in July)

That’s the wrap-up. What did you read this month?

Lori, At Home.

Wise Up: Wisdom In Proverbs ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

I had been looking for a Bible study to do with my middle schooler daughter. We went through a Hebrews study last year and she enjoyed it a lot. So, when Wise Up from Positive Action Bible Curriculum came up for review, I took a really good look at it. It is a study of the wisdom found in the book of Proverbs in the Bible and is recommended for middle school and up. Themes run the gamut of wisdom, from home life and honoring parents to freedoms, responsibility, and attitudes. It covers submission and obedience, learning and serving God’s will, and what is truly success.

Wise Up: Wisdom In Proverbs came as a set with a student manual and a teacher manual. It includes 35 lessons (enough material for a school year) and sample schedules for 3, 4, or 5 day a week studies. The student manual is a softback book and the teacher manual is a large 3 ring binder.

The student manual is intended to be used by a single student and is a consumable resource. You will need one for each student involved in the study. Each lesson has its own set of pages in the student manual with questions of all levels for the student to answer. There are suggested days for assigning the student work in the sample schedules but the student can complete the student manual at whatever point in the lesson the teacher determines it is best suited.

The teacher manual contains information on the purpose of the study, as well as scripted lessons, target truths for each lesson, strategies for teaching, notes to help, and testing materials. There is also a page for logging the suggested memory work. This is a large, heavy 3 ring binder with almost 400 pages in it. I found myself taking the pages out that I needed for the current lesson so I didn’t have to move the binder around too much.

The teacher manual has a lot of information for the teacher to read through before beginning the study. I found it a bit overwhelming and it took me a couple of weeks to figure out how I wanted to approach this study with my middle school student. The answer key in the teacher manual is helpful but it also caused me a good bit of confusion. The answers are designed to work with all translations, which means it doesn’t really work with any translation well. Several of the suggested answers didn’t make sense with the NIV1985 translation that we were using. Even pulling up side by side translations online was unhelpful.

Inside the teacher guide showing the strategies and some of the teaching materials.
Inside the teacher guide showing answer keys for the exercise, corresponding to the student guide.

So, what did we do with this study? We used it, and will use it this fall, completely different than the suggestions in the teachers manual. As set up, it was too slow and shallow of a study for my daughter. Instead, we are focusing on a single lesson in a single day. We are not doing the memorization recommendations and we are working through the student manual together in discussion. (See the previous paragraph for information on the translation, which is why we are doing it together in discussion.)

We used the Bible app on the Kindle a couple of times in trying to match some of the answers to a version of the Bible.

We really enjoy studying the book of Proverbs and talking about the wisdom to be found there. We snuggle up together on the couch or side-by-side at the table with the Bible, the student book, and the teacher pages for the lesson. I paraphrase the scripted teacher lesson (so that it makes sense for my daughter) and we talk about it and the target truths for the lesson. Then we open up the student manual and tackle what is there. I found it common to skip some of the questions each lesson as it was often repetitive.

I believe that this is a program best suited to a full classroom situation, rather than a homeschool. It doesn’t flow well for a single student and the scripting/strategies/testing from the teacher manual seem burdensome for a single student. There is a lot of review time built into each lesson, especially in the 5 day week schedule. This type of review and pacing is necessary when you have a large number of students but with just one student, I have seldom found it was needed.

I can see a lot of benefit in this study and we will continue using it with the modifications we have made. If you are looking for a program that is all laid out for you, that includes written work and testing, and you would like something spread out over a few days or a week, this is for you. It is written for just that.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read additional reviews on curriculum from Positive Action Bible Curriculum. Other families were using either Wise Up or 5th Grade – Possessing the Land.

Lori, At Home.

Liszt ~ composer ABCs

Many will know the name Franz Liszt. This is because he was an accomplished pianist in addition to being a composer.

Liszt was a Hungarian, born in 1811 into a highly musical family. He was known as a prodigy early on and an established concert pianist by age 9. He wanted to enroll in the Paris Conservatoire when he was about 12 years old. He was denied admission due to the fact that he was a foreigner. He had studied under Antonio Salieri (Mozart’s teacher) and was consider a very special musician. He toured all of Europe as a teenage, performing not only in concert halls but also for kings.

One of Liszt’s abilities that few others had was the ability to improvise on a melody suggested by an audience member. This surely influenced his composition and playing abilities.

When his father died, Liszt was only 15. This was a traumatic period for him and he almost quit music completely. He pushed through and reignited his musical passions. In 1849 he accepted the position of the director of the court theater at Weimar. This meant he did not tour or do concert performances much any more.

Liszt did begin much conducting and was able to promote many other composers’ works. He was equally as talented as a conductor as a pianist. He is considered the first to have developed the symphonic poem as a form of composition, contributing a great deal to the orchestral literature of the world.

Some of his greatest compositions are for piano. However, he was such a talented pianist that few players can properly perform his piano works.

The Hungarian Rhapsody series of works is perhaps some of the most well-known of Liszt’s works. All together there are 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies for piano. The first 15 were published during his life and the final four posthumously. These were at one time considered the bread and butter of a pianist’s repertory. They are evidentally not quite as common these days, though. They are such lovely piano works. Here is Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in D Minor.

Some of the Hungarian Rhapsodies have been orchestrated. Here is the same Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 for orchestra.

Additionally, as mentioned before, Liszt did quite a bit of work on helping the symphonic poem to become a popular form. The symphonic poem is sometimes also called a tone poem. He wrote 13 of these symphonic poems. The most popular one is the third, Les Preludes, based off of Lamartine’s Meditations poetiques.

Liszt allowed many different types of art to inspire his compositions. Not only did Lamartine influence him, but also the piece Orpheus. Victor Hugo’s Les Orientales inspired one of the symphonic poems (No. 6, Mazeppa). The set of 6 frescos by Wilhelm von Kaulbach in the New Museum at Berlin has one picture that was the basis for a musical setting of it, titled Hunnenschlact, or The Battle of the Huns.

Resources for Franz Liszt:

Some of the information in this post came from the liner notes of two CDs that I have. 1) Franz Liszt Symphonic Poems by the Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Hermann Scherchen, conductor, recordings from 1957 and 1958. 2) Franz Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies Nos 1-6, Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Hermann Scherchen, conductor, recordings from 1959. Both CDs released on MCA Classics, copyright 1990.

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
J – Joplin and Janacek
K – Kern

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 – This week is L is for Legoland.
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses – This week is Life Skills In Your Homeschool.

Other posts from the week of Letter K –

Baggin’ The Dragon Online Math Supplement ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Many times there is a need for additional support with math and a game would be just the thing. Enter EdAlive and their online app Baggin’ the Dragon Maths Online. The program is available for ages 5+.

EdAlive is a company that has launched online programs that are research based and contain adaptive learning to really focus the content the student is working with. All of their newest programs include real-time, automated, and adaptive learning, multi-player content, and built-in reports. Research has found these elements to be instrumental in best practices for learning. They also know, however, that there is a need for specific content to be addressed. Baggin’ The Dragon has this option available as well.

Baggin’ The Dragon Maths Online has four different options, actually, for presenting content.
1) Using the adaptive learning content with all content
2) Using adaptive learning with specific content
3) Manually selecting questions with specific content
4) Playing the game with adaptive learning

So, what is the game that adapts to student’s understanding?

The student clicks New Game. The player then selects an option for a quick game (I didn’t find it any quicker than other options), hosting a game, joining another player’s game, or going against the computer. These all seemed to be about the same to me as I played. After selecting the game, the game board appears with the character piece shown. The character piece can be changed with a click of the mouse over the image prior to selecting which type of game is going to be played.

The game board appears and the die starts rolling. The student clicks on the die for their move. Then the other player(s) rolls and moves. A box telling the student which adaptive level the math question is selected from appears with the value of the correct answer shown. The question then appears and the student answers it.

A correct answer will grant the student additional points that can be beneficial for shopping (in the forms of the game other than quick game) for things that can help them win against other players or the computer. An example is this shield. As you can see, it costs 60 strength points but it is always on and it protects you against things like the hunting dog your opponent my have or choose to buy with thier points.

These points also go towards rewarding the student with hero cards. You do not get to choose which hero cards you earn.

These are the hero cards I had earned after 2 games. One game was the quick game and one was against the computer.

At the end of the game, 21 turns or rolls and questions, a report will pop up showing what content questions were attempted and whether they were rightly or wrongly answered.

You can also access additional reports from the parent dashboard. Also available on the parent dashboard are certificates to print as they are earned and options to set or lock content.

So, what are the benefits of this game supplement for math?

  • You can choose which curriculum to align it with. Depending on where you are, you get a different set of options for curriculum correlation. In the US it is Common Core State Standards and the EdAlive Curriculum. The range of curricula covered is: The Australian Curriculum, NAPLAN, NSW Syllabus 2014, The Victoria Curriculum, NZ TKI, UK National Curriculum, and US Common Core State Standards.
  • The game format will appeal to a large number of students.
  • The variety of questions keeps things interesting and students will not tire of the same type of question over and over.
  • Hero cards can be motivating to earn.
  • Being able to play with others online is exciting for some students.
  • Swords, dragons, courage, knights – these appeal to many students and will make the math practice fun.
  • Mixing the difficult questions with simpler questions allows success when a student is struggling.
  • Over 10,000 questions of all levels of difficulty
  • Adaptive learning allows students to concurrently experience difficulty mixed with simpler topics in Addition • Subtraction • Multiplication • Division • Fractions • Percentages • Ratio & Proportion • Numeration • Shape • Space • Measurement • Geometry • Data • Statistics • Graphs • Probability • Patterns • Algebra
  • Incorrect answers are handled gently with a second chance at the solution.
  • Younger players who are on lower levels can play against older players with higher math levels since each plays their own level on the same game board.

Why this might not be for you –

  • It does require internet access and screen time.
  • It is a bit slower than I would like to work through each player’s turn and the game. But I could just be impatient. (Been known to happen.)
  • The jumping back and forth between question types can be a challenge for a student to stay engaged with, especially when one needs scratch paper to work and the next is a question that can be done almost without thought.
  • You like to have interaction with your student as they are learning or practicing. You would have to sit beside the student while they answered questions or played the game.
  • It might not be right for your student if this student is distractable, likes to talk to others while playing games, or doesn’t like slow moving games. My 6th grader did not enjoy this game. She fits all of the above statements. While she does like to play online games some, she likes it to be with someone else she can talk to.

Baggin’ The Dragon is compatible with all major browsers. It can be used on Windows PCs, Apple Macs, Surface Tablets, iPads, Chromebooks and other Android tablets. It is an app that is fully delivered via the web so there is no need to download anything. It is available 24/7 wherever you have an internet connection.

Homeschoolers, there is even a special page for you to read more about how EdAlive works to support you with your student’s instruction. It includes information on curriculum, all programs, and discounts and special group buys to get a great price.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about what other families experiences have been like with EdAlive. There were reviewers for Baggin’ the Dragon Maths Online, for Volcanic Panic Reading Success Online, and for Words Rock Online.

Lori, At Home.

Careering by Tamara S. Raymond ~ a book review

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of review.

As our children reach high school age, many questions begin to form in our minds. What are they going to be? How are they going to get there? What are their goals? Sometimes, we as parents and our students need some guidance to follow to help our students find the right path. So, how do we do that?

Tamara S. Raymond has given us some of that guidance with her book Careering:The Pocket Guide To Exploring Your Future Career. This is a simple guide that will direct questions, thoughts, and ideas to help students clarify where they should explore for their future. This is a 4″ x 5″ softback book with 85 pages. It is not merely a read and do book but rather one to consider, think on, and complete.

This is a workbook style guide with 8 steps (chapters), plus a preface, an introduction, and an afterward. In working through this guide, the student will explore the following:

  • What is Careering?
  • How to begin careering
  • Opportunities to explore different career options
  • Key Resources
  • The power of networking
  • Applying
  • Interview skills
  • A new job – now what?
  • The final step

The writing is uncomplicated and gives a simple-to-follow pathway along the process of exploring ideas and options for the future. With the space to make notes, write lists and brainstorm ideas, this booklet becomes unique for the student utilizing it. In addition to exploring careers, this book helps students hit the basics of landing a job – resume, interviews, networking, and more.

This is not a one-size-fits-all guide. I had hoped it would give us some new ideas and options of exploring the future with my soon to be high school senior. We had already followed the majority of the suggestions in this book and were looking for additional resources. So this is a starting place and it is not an exhaustive list of all the options or ideas. But it is a great place to start.

If you have a high schooler who is uncertain about what they want to zero in on in their education, this book will start them down the path of learning and exploring options and ideas. It will direct them in how to create some opportunities to decide if something is right for them. There is space within each of the steps to make notes, write lists, and create the information needed to evaluate options.

Careering:The Pocket Guide To Exploring Your Future Career is a wonderful starting place for looking at career options and narrowing the field down into manageable bits to evaluate. I would recommend it for students and parents who are just beginning this process. It may just be the spark that lights a fire.

Lori, At Home.

Kern – Composer ABCs

Jerome Kern

Kern was born in New York in 1885. His first music teacher was his mother who taught him piano and organ. When he reached high school, he was often found writing music for their theater to perform. At 17, he wrote a production based on Uncle Tom’s Cabin. After high school, he tried his hand at his father’s business but he was not successful there. After a disastrous event (according to one source, he accidentally ordered 200 pianos instead of 2!), he was allowed to leave to study music at New York College of Music. After that, he studied in Germany. Following his studies, he returned to New York.

When he got down to working, he worked for a music company writing songs to go into musicals being adapted from England to America. He was highly successful in this endeavor and it launched his writing career. In 1915, he began writing musicals for the Princess Theater. In 1927, he wrote what became his most famous musical: Show Boat. Songs in this musical included “Old Man River”, “Bill”, “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man”, “Make Believe”, and “Why Do I Love You?”. Joe, the main character, was first performed by Jules Bledsoe, a tenor from our hometown of Waco, TX.

Kern continued to write for Broadway until sometime in the mid-1930s. At that time, he went to Hollywood and began working on movie music. Many of these were adaptations of Broadway productions. Kern was highly successful in these endeavors. In 1945, Kern had returned to Broadway to help with a revival of Show Boat. He experienced a cerebral hemmorage and passed away.

Kern is remembered for the hundreds of songs he composed and the many musical he created. His life was remembered in the film Till The Clouds Roll By. Kern is considered the grandfather of the musical because his writing was quite progressive and he wrote about some tough themes, many seen in Show Boat. Popular songs, even today, by Kern include  “Ol’ Man River”, “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man, “A Fine Romance”, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”, “The Song Is You”, “All The Things You Are”, “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Long Ago and Far Away.”

Resources for Jerome Kern:

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
J – Joplin and Janacek

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 – This week is K is for Kitchen.
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses – This week is Know Yourself – Stop the Comparison Game.

Featured from Week 10 all things ‘J’

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

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:

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’

Praise in Singing

Last Sunday, May 30, was our 5th Sunday singing at evening worship. I love those singing days a lot. Singing is a joyful way to worship and praise. This is a recording of that worship service. Sing along and enjoy!

List of songs (I think I got them all listed here)

  • I Come to the Garden Alone
  • To God Be The Glory
  • Flee As A Bird
  • Hide Me, Rock of Ages
  • Step By Step
  • I Stand Amazed
  • Just As I Am/I Come Broken
  • Thomas’ Song
  • Be Thou My Vision
  • Holy, Holy, Holy
  • Will Your Anchor Hold?
  • Night With Ebon Pinion
  • I’ll Fly Away
  • When I Go Home
  • O Lord, Our Lord
  • It Is Well With My Soul (When Peace Like A River)
  • Restore My Soul
  • Ten Thousand Angels
  • I Am A Poor Wayfaring Stranger

We live stream our services on Facebook every time we meet. You can join us Sunday mornings at 9 am CST for Bible class, 10 am CST for worship, and 5 pm CST for worship. We also meet at 7pm CST for Wednesday devotional and Bible study time. If you are in town, please visit in person. We’d love to meet you.

Lori, At Home.

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