John Williams

Music Notes

Music, music, music.  And only music, music, music.

Longing for L-O-N-G classical music pieces:

Music to lull someone to sleep – 

Someone in the family has been waking in the middle of the night (I might be glaring at my son right now) and the only way to get said person back to sleep is to sit with him in his darkened room and listen to two or three calming, lengthy (this is key, short ‘n’ choppy does not do the trick) classical music pieces.  Each one needs to whisper, “you are getting sleepy, you are getting sleepy, you are getting sleepy”:

  • 14+ minutes:  Ralph Vaughan Williams “The Lark Ascending”
  • 12+ minutes”  Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 9” (“From the New World”), movement II
  • 12+ minutes:  Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 6 in F major”, movement I
  • 12+ minutes:  Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 6 in F major”, movement II
  • 9+ minutes:  Mozart’s “Concerto for Flute and Harp in C major”, movement II (the Andantino)
  • 9+ minutes:  Schumann’s “Symphony No. 3 in E flat” (“The Rhenish”), movement I
  • 9+ minutes:  Josef Strauss’s “Music of the Spheres”
  • 8+ minutes:  Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade”, movement I (“The Sea and Sinbad”)
  • 6+ minutes:  William Grant Still’s “Song of the Riverman” from “The American Scene – The Southwest”
  • 5+ minutes:  John Williams’ “Approaching the Summit”, from the movie, “Seven Years in Tibet”

Music to draw out the evening – 

Sometimes we speed through stories and studies and it is still quite early in the evening.  We have time for longer classical music selections than usual, and we pick livelier than the “lulling to sleep” pieces:

  • 12+ minutes:  Mendelssohn’s “Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
  • 11+ minutes:  Smetana’s “The Moldau” 
  • 10+ minutes:  Dukas’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” 
  • 9+ minutes:  von Suppe’s “Poet and Peasant Overture”
  • 9+ minutes:  Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” from his opera, “La Gioconda”
  • 9+ minutes:  Mendelssohn’s “The Hebrides Overture”

April looks back at March:

Music for St. Patrick’s Day –

We compared two interpretations of the jig,  “The Irish Washerwoman”, inspired by the 17th century English Folk tune, “The Dargason” (Anglo-Saxon word for fairy)(not a river as I first assumed)(but seriously, doesn’t “The Dargason” sound like a river name?) –

– Gustav Holst’s “Fantasia on the Dargason”, composed in 1911 for his “Second Suite for Military Band”.  An excellent VIRTUAL performance by the Sacramento State Symphonic Wind Ensemble from October 2020. 

– Leroy Anderson’s “The Irish Washerwoman” from movement one of his “Irish Suite”, first performed in 1947.  Rollicking (we expect no less from Leroy Anderson) –

Music Madness –

We created our own March Madness Classical Music Brackets and pitted our favorite pieces by British composers (Handel, Holst, Vaughan Williams, Elgar, Binge, Sullivan, Clarke, and Alwyn) against each other.  After 9 grueling rounds, the top thrilling three:  

“The Wild Bears”, by Sir Edward Elgar from “The Wand of Youth”, suite II (1908).  No question about this, “The Wild Bears” is my son’s favorite classical music piece.  It has everything – scampering, tiptoeing, abrupt twists and turns, superb use of every instrument in the orchestra, and a smashing conclusion – all packed into 2+ minutes:

“Arrival of the Queen of Sheba”, by George Frederich Handel from his oratorio, “Solomon” (1749).  Don’t miss this short video if you want to see your first THEORBO (a ridiculously large lute-type instrument):

“Sailing By”, by Ronald Binge (1963).  This is the BBC4 Shipping Forecast theme, and we love it.  Comfort listening:

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH

Mid-March Roundup

They glide through the air with the greatest of ease – We are reading “Catching Air”, a book focused on GLIDING ANIMALS (non-bird animals that seemingly fly from tree to tree).  This is our third book by Sneed B. Collard III, whose writings on lizards and bird beaks (for heavens sakes) have made us enthusiastic observers.   As usual, the material he presents in “Catching Air” makes us feel super scholarly:

  • we now know that large eyes on animals are suggestive of a nocturnal nature
  • we now know the difference between flying, gliding, and parachuting animals
  • we now know what a patagium (vocab) is and we know how to pronounce it
  • we discussed the difference between a carnivore, herbivore, and omnivore
  • we are now among those who know where the largest, second largest, and third largest islands in the world are (the largest, of course, is Greenland – where there are no gliding animals, but there are gliding animals aplenty in Papua New Guinea, the second largest island and Borneo, third largest island) 
  • last night we read about the creepiest creepiest creepiest thing:  the air gliding snakes of Borneo     

Editing Triumph:  Hans Christian Anderson – I wanted my son to understand references that originated from Anderson’s writings, like “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and “The Ugly Duckling”, so we read from a most elegant edition of his fairy tales, compiled by Noel Daniel (published in 2013).  This book is thoughtfully organized and filled with sumptuous surprises.  There is a lot of gold ink, short informative sidebars, and each fairy tale is teamed up with its own illustrator  (the likes of Maurice Sendak and Arthur Rackham).  THIS is the edition that anybody interested in Hans Christian Anderson should own. 

Quick Notes –

  • Hokusai:  After finishing “The Old Man Mad about Drawing” (Francois Place), learning more about Katsushika Hokusai, woodcut print master of the late 1700’s, I presented my son with 4 Hokusai poster possibilities for his room.  He selected the classic, “The Great Wave”.  Even in poster form, it is more spectacular than I had imagined.
  • Marsupials:  First of all, “marsupial” is a fun word to say.  Marsupial, marsupial, marsupial.  We finished a unit on marsupials – those mammals that nurture their newborns in mom’s front pocket – except for those marsupials whose mom’s don’t have a front pocket (which our book should have expanded upon)(editing disappointment)(sigh).
  • Compass directions:  I did a compass check with my son.  Did he know north, south, east, and west?  YES.
  • Hank the Cow Dog:  It has been years since we have read through the John R. Erickson series.  This is the ridiculousness we need to conclude each day.  We pretty much love Hank.

Complaint Department:  My son and I are studying architectural landmarks.  I am not mentioning our resource because this book could have been so much better.  I would not be giving this editor a raise anytime soon:

  • Our book provides only vague references to each landmark’s location, as if the exact whereabouts were a secret.  Seriously?  No nearby city mention?  No COUNTRY mention?  How can there not be a little map accompanying each entry?   
  • Whereas all entries are interesting, are they all really landmarks?  Are the Roman Baths of England a landmark?  Are the the buried terra-cotta army figures in China a landmark?
  • Often the book waxes on about a particular object of fascination (fabulous mosaics, a special stone, etc) associated with a particular landmark, and then does not include a photo of the object.  AAAAACK.

Nevertheless, we do have our favorite landmarks:

  • First place honors go to the hundred foot tall Christ the Redeemer of Rio de Janeiro.  Monumental simplicity.  Of interest:  funding ran low during construction, so the Vatican stepped in to assist.  Nice.
  • Second place, measuring in at 185 feet (on one side) is the relentless engineering fiasco and utterly charming Leaning Tower of Pisa.  

Story problem – a landmark at Farmer Brown’s roadside produce stand!  In the hopes of making his produce stand a tour-bus destination, Farmer Brown has commissioned a sculptor to create a 10 foot high bronze ear of corn, to be positioned near the stand.  That should get everyone’s attention!  The “artwork” will be true to actual corn proportions.  If there are 50 kernels of corn in a typical row on a corncob, each kernel must be approximately how wide in the sculpture?  (answer at bottom of post)

A)  2.5 inches     B)  5 inches     C)  7.5 inches     D)  2.5 feet

Classical Music Time – earlier in this month (MARCH), a local radio station hosted a “vote for your favorite march” opportunity.  We listen to marches every Friday night throughout the year, so my son definitely knew the three he was voting for:

  • Marche Militaire No. 1 in D major, composed as a piano four-hands piece by  Franz Schubert and first published in 1826.   Perhaps best described as a ballroom march, Marche Militaire is also effectively used in the cute-as-anything Disney cartoon of 1932, “Santa’s Workshop” (my son LOVES this cartoon – frankly, I love this cartoon).  Note:  the extremely competent pianists in this clip do take quite a bit of time to get started:

  • March of the Prague Student Legion, by Bedrich Smetana, composed in 1848.  This is a march that fills you with nationalistic pride, makes you throw your shoulders back and stand up straight.  We love the snappy pace of this particular recording.  As an added listening bonus, tucked into the middle of the march, my son and I listen for a few bars of “The Farmer in the Dell”:

  • The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s theme),  John Williams’ genius nod to aggression and menace.  In this film clip, John Williams conducts the LA Philharmonic Orchestra (complete with Jedi and Mr. Vader):

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(story problem answer:  A)  2.5”)

…and in conclusion

– Farewell 2018 – 

Books that made the biggest impact with my son this past year –

books best 18

  • “The Erie Canal” by Martha E. Kendall  (surprisingly interesting)
  • “The Violin Maker” by John Marchese  (surprisingly interesting)
  • “The Cities Book”, a Lonely Planet book  (the lengthiest book we’ve ever tackled, but worthy of our perseverance)
  • “The War that Saved by Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley  (we learned so much about the daily struggles of British civilians during WWII)
  • “The Right Word (Roget and his Thesaurus)” by Jennifer Bryant and Melissa Sweet  (the most beautifully illustrated book we read this past year)

What we are reading now – 

space book

“Ken Jennings’ Junior Genius Guide to Dinosaurs” – well researched, cleverly organized, hilarious.  And now we know:

  • the complexity of dealing with dinosaur fossils (which we learned have been found on EVERY continent)
  • the main types of dinosaur skeletal structure (lizard hipped and bird hipped)
  • dinosaur IQ (really, really low.  really low)
  • how dinosaurs became extinct (FREAKY HEARTBREAKER)
  • to mull on:  dinosaurs lived on the earth for 150 MILLION YEARS (becoming extinct 65 million years ago), yet the first dinosaur bone was not officially recognized and identified until 1824.  So, it is interesting to consider that (for example) our USA founding fathers had no idea that their world was once anything other than as they experienced it.

“Professor Astro Cat’s SPACE ROCKETS” by Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman.  My son and I like to keep abreast of current outer space exploration – astronauts, telescopes, space probes – but we have never considered how astronauts, telescopes, space probes actually get into outer space.  This book has the answers  (and who can’t be fascinated by the engineering genius of space rockets?  And we keep laughing about the very first earthly inhabitants to journey by rocket to outer space (FRUIT FLIES) (we actually want more info about the fruit flies – how many did they send?  did they reproduce?  how many came back alive?).  The book’s content is really pared down, but the information comes across clearly (and we haven’t gotten this information anywhere else), so KUDOS Walliman and Newman ONCE AGAIN).  

BTW – the books of Ken Jennings and Walliman/Newman always make a big impact with my son.

dog santa hat

Story Problem – Early in December, Le Fictitious Local Diner cordoned off their parking lot and hosted a Holiday Pet Parade, complete with diner-made treats baked for all participants and a photographer to commemorate the event.  50 families each brought a pet dressed in holiday finery.

  • If 80% brought a dog wearing a Santa hat, how many dogs in Santa hats were in the parade?
  • If one family brought a turtle wearing teeny reindeer antlers, the turtle was what percentage of the parade?  
  • If 8 families brought cats wearing doll sweaters, what percentage of the parade was causing a snarling uproar? 
  • If there were exactly 50 pets in the parade, and the pets were either dogs, cats, turtles or birds, how many parakeets in cages with twinkly lights were in the festive procession? (answers at bottom of post)

Sweet Endings (actually, SUITE endings) – last night’s classical music listening:

My son and I always enjoy a piece of classical music that takes us by surprise with a non-traditional ending –  such as Elgar’s “The Wild Bears”, Smetana’s “The Moldau”, and John Williams’ “The Imperial March”.  To bring 2018 to a sweet ending we chose compositions with quirky conclusions from three different suites:

  • The Dove, from Ottorino Respighi’s orchestral suite, “The Birds” (1828).  A somber, reflective piece with a most delicious, elegant swirl of an ending:

  • Mercury, from Gustav Holst’s suite, “The Planets” (1916).  Mercury, the Messenger God, zooms erratically all over the universe and at the end of the short piece, quietly fades away with an utter lack of fanfare:

  • On the Trail, from Ferde Grofé’s “Grand Canyon Suite” (1931).  We found an excellent recording from the NY Philharmonic that accompanies an engaging video featuring the Grand Canyon MULES.  But back to the music –  the abrupt ending is perfection:

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
Story problem answers:  40 dogs, 2%, 16%, 1 parakeet

A Little Night Music

piano and moon

Question 1:  If my son and I spend 15 minutes every night listening to classical music, how many hours of listening will we have stacked up over the course of a year? (answer at bottom of post)

Question 2:  If we average 3 pieces per evening, how many compositions will we have listened to over the course of a year? (answer at bottom of post)

I have been thinking it would be helpful to have a tab on title-block that would take us to a page where our music themes were listed.  So, OMGosh this has taken forever to assemble (and only includes music I have blogged about since July, 2014), but VOILA!  This post is now tabbed on title-block as “Our Music Themes“.

(This is merely a listing; to read a few short lines of information about each composition and find links to youtube videos of said compositions,  click on the links.)

Music Themes – Post Titles

Art set to music:  Checkered House, by Grandma Moses – from “Good Books, Bad Books

  • Over the River and Through the Wood – Lydia Maria Child
  • Sleigh Ride – Leroy Anderson
  • Carol of the Animals – Robert Davis

Art set to music:  Pirate Chief, by Howard Pyle – from “Fly By

  • The Maid of Amsterdam – traditional sea chanty
  • Overture to The Flying Dutchman – Wagner
  • Pirates of the Caribbean Suite – Klaus Badelt

Art set to music:  The Clipper Ship, by Currier and Ives – from “Garden Par-tay

  • Sea Songs – Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Overture to H.M.S. Pinafore – Gilbert and Sullivan
  • Over the Waves – Juventino Rosas

Art set to music:  The Fall of the Cowboy, by Remington – from “Answers for Everything

  • Thanksgiving – George Winston
  • Hoedown – Aaron Copland
  • Back Home Again – John Denver

Back to School – from “If it’s August

  • Flight of the Bumblebee – Rimsky-Korsakov
  • Entry of the Gladiators – Julius Fucik
  • Song of the Volga Boatmen – traditional

Barbershop Quartetsfrom “The Cliffs Notes Version

  • Sincere – Meredith Willson
  • Mr. Sandman – Pat Ballard

Benjamin Franklin in France – from “It’s a Date!

  • Overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio – Mozart
  • The Coffee Cantata – JS Bach
  • Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp minor (Farewell Symphony) – Haydn

Black History Month Selections – from “Conversation Circle”

  • Maple Leaf Rag – Scott Joplin
  • The American Scene: The Southwest – William Grant Still
  • Don’t Get Around Much Anymore – Duke Ellington

Blue Days – from “Something Blue

  • Blue Skies – Irving Berlin
  • Blue Tango – Leroy Anderson
  • The Blue Danube Waltz – Strauss

Blue Moon Tunes – from “Second Time Around”

  • Moonlight Serenade – Glenn Miller
  • Rhapsody in Blue – George Gershwin
  • Clair de Lune – Debussy

Brazil, thinking about – from “Tick, Tick, Tick

  • exploring “The Little Train of Caipira” – Heitor Villa-Lobos

The Cambrian Explosion – from “In Which We Learn about the Cambrian Explosion

  • Simple Gifts – Joseph Brackett
  • Polka Dots and Moonbeams – Van Heusen/Burke
  • 1812 Overture – Tchaikovsky

Chicken Coop Melodies – from “Farm Fresh

  • Symphony No. 83 in G minor (The Hen) – Haydn
  • The Hen – Respighi
  • Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little – Meredith Willson
  • Chicken Reel – Joseph M. Daly/Leroy Anderson

Classical Broadway – from “Desperately Seeking Ganesha

  • Rosemary – Frank Loesser
  • Piano Concerto in A minor – Edvard Grieg
  • Baby Face – Akst/Davis
  • Hallelujah Chorus – Handel
  • Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina – Rice/Weber
  • Violin Concerto in D minor – Brahms

Cuckoo for Music – from “Things that go Bump in the Night

  • Organ Concerto No. 13 in F major (The Cuckoo and the Hen) – Handel
  • Symphony No. 6 in F major (The Pastoral) – Beethoven
  • The Cuckoo – Respighi

Dealer’s Choice (my son selects 3 from a list of 10) – from “Starry Eyed

  • The William Tell Overture – Rossini
  • The Cuckoo – Respighi
  • Mambo – Leonard Bernstein

Dental Procedures, music for – from “Messenger Service

  • Symphony No. 6 in F major (The Pastoral) – Beethoven
  • The Barcarolle – Jacques Offenbach
  • The Moldau – Bedrich Smetana

The Doldrums – from “Going Nowhere Fast

  • Sea Songs – Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • We Sail the Ocean Blue – Gilbert and Sullivan
  • Sailing By – Ronald Binge

Duets! – from “Sap Happy

  • The Flower Duet – Leo Delibes
  • Si Fino All’ore Estreme – Bellini
  • People Will Say We’re in Love – Rogers and Hammerstein

Einstein and his Violin – from “Brainiac

  • Violin Serenade No. 6 – Mozart
  • Violin Serenade No. 13 (Eine Kleine Machtmusik) – Mozart
  • Violin Sonata No. 26 in B-flat major – Mozart

Exotic Lands – from “That’s Gotta Hurt

  • Scheherazade – Rimsky-Korsakov
  • Overture to Abduction fro the Seraglio – Mozart
  • Arrival of the Queen of Sheba – Handel

Fanfare for the Water Bear – from “A Fanfare for the Water Bear

  • Water Music – Handel
  • The Aquarium – Saint-Saens
  • The Wild Bears – Sir Edward Elgar

Franz Schubert Night – from “Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?”

  • Serenade – Schubert
  • Ave Maria – Schubert
  • March Militaire – Schubert

French Composers – from “A Test of Faith

  • The Infernal Galop (The Can-Can) – Jacques Offenbach
  • Clair de Lune – Debussy
  • March of the Toreadors – Bizet

The French Horn – from “Working for Peanuts

  • Water Music – Handel
  • Venus – Gustav Holst
  • Pavane for a Dead Princess – Maurice Ravel

Fun Music Only – from “Inventors Invent

  • Dance of the Hours – Amilcare Ponchielli
  • Chicken Reel – Leroy Anderson
  • The Pink Panther – Henry Mancini

Good Shepherd – from “The Rattlesnake Sermon

  • Sheep May Safely Graze – JS Bach
  • He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd – Handel
  • Tender Shepherd – Charlap/Leigh

Groundhog Day – from “Rodent Rage

  • Winter – Vivaldi
  • Waltz of the Snowflakes – Tchaikovsky
  • Symphony No. 6 in F major – Beethoven
  • Put on a Happy Face – Strouse/Adams

Halloween, scary music for – from “Back in the Saddle Again

  • Dance Macabre – Saint-Saens
  • Mars – Gustav Holst
  • Masquerade – Khachaturian

Harp Music of the Angels – from “Sunday School

  • Harp Concerto in B-flat major – Handel
  • Harp Concerto in A major – Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf
  • Concerto for Flut and Harp – Mozart

The Hungarian March, 3 Ways – from “Travelogue

  • Hungarian March – Berlioz
  • Hungarian Rhapsody No. 15 – Liszt
  • Hungarian Dance No. 19 – Brahms

Hymns: three from one – from “Riveting

  • Ave Maria – Jacques Arcadelt
  • Symphony No. 3 in C minor (Organ Symphony) – Saint-Saens
  • Finlandia Hymn – Sibelius

Inventions for Inventions – from “Lights! Camera! Edison!

  • Invention No. 6 in E major – JS Bach
  • Invention No. 8 in F major – JS Bach
  • Invention No. 13 in A minor – JS Bach

London Busses – from “Late Bloomer

  • Jupiter – Gustav Holst
  • Pomp and Circumstance – Elgar
  • Fantasia on Greensleeves – Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Overture to H.M.S. Pinafore – Gilbert and Sullivan

March Madness – from “Ranch Report

  • Colonel Bogey March – Lieutenant F.J. Ricketts
  • The Imperial March – John Williams

March’s Marches – from “Wordery

  • The Redetzky March – Johann Strauss, senior
  • March of the Siamese Children – Richard Rogers
  • The Washington Post March – John Philip Sousa

Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream – from “Flying, Farming, and Felix

  • Overture to Midsummer Night’s Dream – Mendelssohn
  • The Wedding March – Mendelssohn

Michelangelo’s Rome – from “One Sculptor, One Scoundrel

  • The Pines of Rome – Respighi
  • Palladio for String Orchestra – Karl Jenkins
  • Symphony No. 4 in A major (The Italian) – Mendelssohn

Minor Key Music – from “Miners and Minors

  • The Hebrides Overture – Mendelssohn
  • In the Hall of the Mountain King – Edvard Grieg
  • Ride of the Valkyries – Wagner

Minuet in G to the Power of 3 – from “Hendecasyllable

  • Minuet in G – Mozart
  • Minuet in G – Beethoven
  • Minuet in G – JS Bach

Mount Vesuvius – from “Mounting Interest

  • Funiculi Funicular – Luigi Denza
  • Aus Italien – Richard Strauss
  • Neapolitan Song – Rimsky-Korsakov

Music to Soothe – from “Music to Soothe

  • Mass in D minor, motet – Anton Bruchner
  • Sheep May Safely Graze – JS Bach
  • Simple Gifts – Joseph Brackett

Negro Spirituals – from “Heavenly

  • Down by the Riverside – traditional
  • Wade in the Water – traditional
  • Swing Low, Sweet Chariot – traditional

Nocturnes – from “Zootique

  • Nocturne No. 2 – Chopin
  • Nocturne No. 3 – Liszt
  • Harlem Nocturne – Earl Hagen

The Oboe – from “Music Mechanics

  • Arrival of the Queen of Sheba – Handel
  • Swan Lake, final scene – Tchaikovsky
  • Le Tombeau de Couperin – Ravel

Overtures – from “Takes a Lickin’ and Keeps on Tickin‘”

  • Overture from H.M.S. Pinafore – Gilbert and Sullivan
  • Overture from Midsummer Night’s Dream – Mendelssohn
  • Overture from The Marriage of Figaro – Mozart

Paris Tribute – from “A Ghost by any other Name

  • The Swan – Saint-Saens
  • Carillon – Bizet
  • La Vie en Rose – Edith Piaf

Pizzicato! – from “The Price is Wrong

  • Divertissement: Pizzicati – Leo Delibes
  • Symphony 4 in F minor – Tchaikovsky
  • Anitra’s Dance – Edvard Grieg

The Presidents’ Music – from “The Liberace Instigation

  • classical pieces composed during each administration

The Recorder – from “Well Played

  • Sopranino Recorder Concerto in C major – Vivaldi
  • Ode to Joy – Beethoven
  • Greensleeves – traditional

The Sad Song Scale – from “Two Different Worlds

  • Symphony No. 3 in F major – Brahms
  • What’ll I Do? – Irving Berlin
  • Serenade – Schubert

Saint Patrick’s Day – from “The Business of March

  • Toora Loora Looral – James Royce Shannon
  • The Irish Washerwoman – traditional/Leroy Anderson
  • Danny Boy – Frederic Weatherly

Shrill Thrills! (the piccolo) – from “Jams and Jellyfish

  • Chinese Dance (Nutcracker) – Tchaikovsky
  • Triton Fountain in the Morning – Respighi
  • Stars and Stripes Forever – Sousa

Strauss Family, the splendidly gifted – from “780 Pairs of Saddle Shoes

  • Radetzky March – Johann Strauss, senior
  • Feuerfest Polka – Joseph Strauss
  • Thunder and Lightning Polka – Johann Strauss, junior

String Quartets – from “We the People

  • String Quartet in B-flat major (La Chasse) – Haydn
  • String Quartet No. 2 in D major – Borodin
  • Cantina Band (performed as a string quartet) – John Williams

Summertime – from “Barely Scraping By

  • Summer – Vivaldi
  • Fireflies – Amy Beach
  • Summertime – George and Ira Gershwin
  • In the Summertime – Mungo Jerry

Sunday Night Music – from “How We Write

  • How Great Thou Art – Carl Gustav Boberg
  • Turn! Turn! Turn! – Pete Seeger/Book of Ecclesiastes
  • Let us Cheer the Weary Traveler – Nathaniel Dett

Surprise Endings – from “Bringing Handwriting up to Scratch

  • The Wild Bears – Sir Edward Elgar
  • The Moldau – Bedrich Smetana
  • The Imperial March – John Williams

Tambourines! – from “Peace, Love, and Tambourines

  • Mr. Tambourine Man – Bob Dylan
  • Tarantella – Rossini/Respighi
  • Russian Dance (Nutcracker) – Tchaikovsky

Tea Time – from “Textbooks – if we ruled the world

  • Tea for Two – Youmans and Caesar
  • Tea for Two (Tahiti Trot) – Shostakovich
  • Tea for Two – Art Tatum

Things in the Sky – from “Snakes and Pirates

  • Fireflies – Amy Beach
  • Clair de Lune – Debussy
  • Mercury – Gustav Holst

The Timpani – from “One Thing Leads to Another

  • Dance of the Seven Veils – Richard Strauss
  • Thus Spoke Zarathustra – Richard Strauss
  • Pirates of the Caribbean Suite – Klaus Badelt

Trains – from “Posting about Posters

  • The Little Train of Caipira – Heitor Villa-Lobos
  • The Steam Engine – Patrick Doyle
  • Take the A Train – Duke Ellington

Tribute: music for a beloved grandfather – from “Imagine That

  • Fight for California – McCoy/Fitch
  • The Army Song – Sousa/Arberg
  • Ashokan Farewell – Jay Ungar

The Vatican, background music for – from “Holy Zucchetto

  • Gregorian Chants – traditional
  • Gloria in Excelsis Deo – Vivaldi
  • Locus Iste – Bruchner

Virtuoso Night: Stanley Drucker – from “Affordable Housing Forever

  • Clarinet Sonata No. 1 in F minor – Brahms
  • Appalachian Spring – Aaron Copland
  • Rhapsody in Blue – George Gershwin

Virtuoso Night: Sir James Galway – from “Thousands and Thousands

  • Concerto for Flute and Harp – Mozart
  • I Saw Three Ships – traditional
  • Flight of the Bumblebee – Rimsky-Korsakov

Virtuoso Night: Wynton Marsalis – from “Novel Ideas

  • Concerto in E-flat major for Trumpet – Haydn
  • Moto Perpetuo – Paganini
  • The Prince of Denmark March (Trumpet Voluntary) – Jeremiah Clark

Virtuoso Night: Itzhak Perlman – from “Insert Clever Title Here

  • Humoresque – Dvorak
  • Out of Africa, title music – John Barry
  • Violin Concerto in E minor – Mendelssohn

Waltzing with Tchaikovsky – from “Case in Point: Ibn Battuta

  • Serenade for Strings – Tchaikovsky
  • Swan Lake Waltz, Act II – Tchaikovsky
  • Eugene Onegin, Polonaise – Tchaikovsky

Wistfulness – from “Finish the Poem

  • Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, love theme – Tchaikovsky
  • Ashokan Farewell – Jay Ungar
  • What’ll I Do – Irving Berlin

Worker Bees, a soundtrack for – from “Bee Plus!”

  • Moto Perpetuo – Paganini
  • The Pizzicato – Leo Delibes
  • Flight of the Bumblebee – Rimsky-Korsakov

 

Welcome to the best part of my night!
– Jane BH
(answer 1:  91+ hours)
(answer 2:  1,095 pieces of music)

We the People

Here is what is going on with us the people at the STORIES AND STUDIES CENTER (my son’s bed, every night, 10:30 pm):

constitution photo

The Preamble to the Constitution – our hearts are touched by the perfectly worded preamble, so I am having my son memorize it.  For the past two weeks, every night after we read through the preamble, my son writes the missing words in a fill-in-the-blanks preamble.  And every night, more words are missing – so we are doing the successive approximation thing.  Interesting thought – what if schools alternated the Pledge of Allegiance with the Preamble every morning?  Another thought – what if every proposed law was required to read as clearly and straightforward as the preamble?

sharks book

Building a House – we’ve read through “How to Build a House” by Gail Gibbons.  Yes, this is a little kids book, but seriously, it is so well organized, every contractor should hand one of these to each of his clients, so they can get the basic idea of what comes before what.  This book provoked a yucky side study – my son wanted to know more about a house’s septic system.  Ick.

Sharks! – from the excellent Usborne book series.  Here is what has caught our eye so far – the eyes of the hammerhead shark. CRAZY. Also, so sad: baby sharks are left by their moms after they are born.  So, apparently they raise themselves.  No wonder they have such bad manners.

Reading for fun – We are laughing our way through #4 of the Tom Gates series, “Tom Gates – Genius Ideas (mostly)”, by Liz Pichon.  We LOVE this series!  Every single page is hilarious.  What a treat at the end of each day.  Love it, love it, love it.

guestcheck

Tips from Le Fictitious Local Diner – not exactly a story problem: We pretended that a waiter from Le Fictitious Local Diner gave my son a list of table order totals and asked him to figure out bare minimum tips (15%) and happy customer tips (20%). We talked about how waiters are paid and how much they depend upon their tips.  We talked about the difference between good and poor service.  We talked about whether it was the waiter’s fault if the food was substandard (of course this would never happen at Le Fictitious Local Diner – the food is always first rate at the diner).

string quartet sketch

EEEEEW, string quartets – I kept putting this off: listening to string quartets with my son.  Of course, I want to my son to know about this classical music genre, but alas, I am not a fan of the string quartet.  I have tried out dozens upon dozens of string quartets in the past few years, and all I hear is either spiders dancing across a hot pan or some poor soul gasping for breath.  But the time has come – I found 3 string quartets that changed my EEEEEWs to AHHHHHs, and I was enthusiastic about  sharing these with my son.

  • First, because we knew that Franz Josef Haydn (1732 – 1809) is considered to be the “Father of the String Quartet”, I thought we should listen to the first movement of his very first string quartet “String Quartet in B flat Major” (“La Chasse”).  This is the first of 68 (!!!) quartets Haydn composed between 1762 and 1803.

  • Next, we listened to “String Quartet No. 2 in D Major”, composed by Alexander Borodin in 1881.  We listened to movement 3 (“Nocturne”) over and over.  This is the deeply romantic melody used in the (1953 American musical) “Kismet” song, “And This is My Beloved”, for which he was posthumously awarded the 1954 Tony Award. (Good show Alexander! Good show Tony Award selection committee!  Good show Kismet people!)

  • And lastly, we listened to a wonderful contemporary musical ensemble, “The Vitamin String Quartet” (I am still laughing at the name). This group is known for applying their classical skills to renditions of modern and rock songs. We loved listening to their version of John Williams’ “Cantina Band” from Star Wars.

There now, that wasn’t so bad after all!

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH

The Liberace Instigation

liberace

This post is not about the man, Liberace, but about a GLARING ERROR he made before treating the TV audience to his take on the classic Strauss “Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz”.  See for yourself:

You saw the problem, right?

Of course, I am referring to the introductory comment: “…I would like to take you back…many hundreds of years ago to that wonderful, romantic night when Johann Strauss first introduced the waltz…”.  Here is the GLARING ERROR:  Johann Strauss II premiered “The Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz” in 1867, just 86 years (NOT many hundreds of years) prior to Liberace’s 1953 TV show.

I sort of want my son to have a more accurate sense of when important musical compositions were written, so I have put together a simple chart of classical pieces that he is familiar with, and paired them with US Presidential administrations. This will give us both a bit of a sense of what was going on in the world when each piece was written, and remind us that many great compositions are not as old as we think (or Liberace thought)(seriously, I suspect a lot of people think classical music was written 500 years ago, in a galaxy far, far away).

The chart works this way:

USA Presidential Administration – 1 orchestral piece composed or premiered during that time period

George Washington  –  Haydn’s “Symphony No. 94” (Surprise Symphony), 1791
John Adams  –  Beethoven’s “Piano Sonata No. 14” (Moonlight Sonata), 1801
Thomas Jefferson  –  Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5”, 1808
James Madison  –  Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville”, 1816
James Monroe  –  Schubert’s “Marche Militaire”, 1822
John Quincy Adams  –  Rossini’s “William Tell Overture”, 1829
Andrew Jackson  –  Mendelssohn’s “Hebrides Overture”, 1830
Martin Van Buren  –  Chopin’s “Piano Sonata No. 2” (The Funeral March), 1837
William Henry Harrison  –  Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman”, 1841
John Tyler  –  Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March”, 1842
James Polk  –  Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2”, 1847
Zachery Taylor  –  Schumann’s “Symphony No. 3” (The Rhenish), 1850
Millard Fillmore  –  Verdi’s “Rigoletto”, 1851
Franklin Pierce  –  Foster’s “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”, 1854
James Buchanan  –  Offenbach’s “Orpheus in the Underworld” (the Can-Can!), 1858
Abraham Lincoln  –  Howe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, 1862
Andrew Johnson –  Strauss II’s “Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz”, 1867
Ulysses S. Grant  –  Grieg’s “Peer Gynt Suite”, 1876
Rutherford B. Hayes  –  Gilbert & Sullivan’s “HMS Pinafore”, 1878
James Garfield  –  Bruch’s “Scottish Fantasy”, 1881
Chester A. Arthur  –  Waldteufel’s “The Skater’s Waltz”, 1882
Grover Cleveland  –  Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals”, 1886
Benjamin Harrison  –  Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker”, 1892
Grover Cleveland  –  Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, 1897
William McKinley  –  Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee”, 1900
Teddy Roosevelt  –  Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance, No. 1”, 1901
William H. Taft  –  Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”, 1913
Woodrow Wilson  –  Holst’s “The Planets”, 1916
Warren G. Harding  –  Berlin’s “What’ll I Do”, 1923
Calvin Coolidge  –  Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, 1924
Herbert Hoover  –  Grofe’s “Grand Canyon Suite”, 1931
Franklin D. Roosevelt  –  Copland’s “Appalachian Spring”, 1944
Harry S Truman  –  Anderson’s “The Typewriter”, 1950
Dwight Eisenhower – Bernstein’s “West Side Story”, 1957
John F. Kennedy  –  Mancini’s “The Pink Panther Theme”, 1963
Lyndon Johnson  –  The Beatles’ “Yesterday”, 1965
Richard Nixon  –  Weissberg/Mandell’s “Dueling Banjos”, 1973
Gerald Ford  –  Williams’ “Theme from Jaws”, 1975
Jimmy Carter  –  Williams’ “The Imperial March” (Darth Vader’s Theme), 1980
Ronald Reagan  –  Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera”, 1986
George H.W. Bush  –  George Winston’s “Hummingbird”, 1991
Bill Clinton  –  Doyle’s “Steam Engine” (from “Sense and Sensibility”), 1995
George W. Bush  –  Kirkhope’s “Viva Piñata Soundtrack”, 2006
Barack Obama  –  Williams’ “The Adventures of Tintin”, 2011

(and yes!  My son is quite familiar with all of the above pieces.)

jacques c      otto

BTW, this week we have been ALSO learning about Jacques Cousteau and Otto Von Bismarck.

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH

Ranch Report

IMG_1535

Ranch Report – this past week I spent two remarkably interesting days at the most wonderful gigantic cattle ranch smack in the middle of Texas (thanx to LynxAC: hostess/friend extraordinaire).  I brought back photos and observations to share with my son:
–  first of all, the calves are so so cute.
–  the responsibilities of running a ranch are endless – purchasing, transporting, weighing, feeding, watering, and branding the cattle, keeping animals healthy, keeping the calves with their moms – it just doesn’t end.  Good thing the scenery is so spectacular.
–  the speed limit in mid-Texas is 75 MPH.  Not that any self-respecting ranch truck is going that slowly. “Thundering down the road” sort of says it.
–  there are no bushes growing around ranch buildings, because shrubbery provides places for snakes to hang out.  We never stepped outside before scouting for snakes.
–  internet connections are not to be counted on…like there is any time for internet meandering.
–  this visit gave us a new appreciation of everything Farmer Brown (of the Farmer Brown story problems) does to maintain his farm.
–  YES! The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of the Lone Star State.

math shark

When the cat’s away – when I am gone, my husband takes over the studies and stories hour.  He and my son concentrate on math activities and this past week they enjoyed measured success using a “Math Shark”, which can ask questions about decimals, fractions, and percentages, as well as basic computations.

Cleopatra

But now that I am back – topics that are keeping us captivated:
–  Eugene Bullard (Larry Greenly’s book: A+)
–  Cleopatra (Diane Stanley/Peter Vennema’s book: A+)
–  Animal eyes and vision (“Eye to Eye” by Steve Jenkins) (too early to give it a grade, but so far, we are learning a lot!)
–  book concepts: the preface and the epilogue. (vocab)
–  new science concept “breaking the sound barrier”.

Story Problem Answers!  Finally!  Thanx to a request from attentive reader FDB, answers to story problems will be posted at the bottom of each post, underneath my signature. Starting today!

lantern

Speaking of Farmer Brown – a story problem from this past week: For an upcoming evening gathering, Farmer Brown is going to light his long driveway with lanterns. If he places a lantern on both sides of the drive every 20 feet, and his driveway is a quarter of a mile long, how many lanterns will he need?  If each lantern costs $8.00 (including tax and shipping), how much will Farmer Brown be spending? (Don’t forget!  The answer is at the bottom of this posting!)

March Madness follow-up (see our previous post, “The Business of March”) – my son’s final two march favorites were:
–  “Colonel Bogey March”, composed in 1914 by Lieutenant F.J. Ricketts
–  “The Imperial March” (Darth Vader’s theme), composed in 1980 by John Williams for “Star Wars, Episode V”
with the winning nod given to “The Imperial March”.  Great footage:  John Williams conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, complete with appearance by Darth Vader:

stars at night

Background music for star gazing in the Lone Star State  

–  “Mercury” from Gustav Holst’s suite, “The Planets”, composed in 1916.  Mercury, the messenger god, flits all over the place and the music flits all over the place.  This is probably one of our top twenty favorite pieces.  It is just so different.

–  “Clair de Lune” from Claude Debussy’s “Suite Bergamasque”, published in 1905.  This clip features the great pianist Claudio Arrau, who was 88 when this was recorded!

Now here is something fun!

–  “The Star Trek Theme” straight from the late ’60’s TV show.  Composed by Alexander Courage, the minute-long theme was originally titled, “Where No Man has Gone Before”. Deliciously eerie.

–  Then we listened to a fully orchestrated version (“Star Trek in Concert”) performed by the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2013.  Gorgeous!  We wonder if composer Alexander Courage ever dreamed that his short quirky piece would be performed by such an esteemed orchestra.  Whoa.

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
Story Problem answers:  132 and $1,056.00

Insert Clever Title Here

Greetings.  I couldn’t think of a snappy title to lure any and all into this posting.  Well, you are here!  Welcome!  Here is our update from last night:

STORIES AND STUDIES

India: We have completed our unit on early 20th century India. We finished the novel, “All My Noble Dreams and Then What Happens” by Gloria Whelan – a captivating read with interesting historical information and a wonderful point of view. I do think there is a disconnect between the story and the title, but nobody is asking me. We finished our unit on Mohandas Gandhi (maybe one of our best units ever). I am so impressed with the DK Eyewitness book on Gandhi: OUTSTANDING research and well organized. I am still trying to find a poster of Gandhi that I like…am thinking about having a print shop make up a poster sized copy of the DK book cover. Hope this is legal.

gandhi

Explorers: Last night we read about Hernando Cortes, and we learned the difference between an explorer and a conqueror. Suffice it to say, we won’t be searching high and low for a poster of this MEAN man.

Le Fictitious Local Café story problem:  The 3 cooks and 4 waitresses at “Le Fictitious Local Café” need new aprons. Aprons for the cooks cost $8 each, and each cook needs 3 (so there will always be a clean one to put on). The waitresses all want aprons with cute rickrack stitched on, and these are available for $15 each. Each waitress needs 2 aprons. How much will the owner of the café need to shell out to provide aprons for his staff?

Classical Music: It was VIRTUOSO NIGHT again, starring violinist Itzhak Perlman!

  • Humoresque, by Antonin Dvorak. Until you’ve heard this piece conducted by Seiji Ozawa, featuring Perlman on violin and Yo-Yo Ma on cello, you have not heard the potential of this composition.  BTW, a “humoresque” was a genre of music in the 1800s that suggested a fanciful, sweet mood.
  • Out of Africa, the title music, by John Barry, composed in 1985. Itzhak Perlman’s solos break your heart.
  • Violin Concerto in E Minor, movement 3, by Felix Mendelssohn.  This video (linked below – my FIRST youtube link BTW!) is not the crispest, but who cares?  We LOVE it!  Perlman knows this piece backwards and forwards and upside down. We have watched this at least 10 times.  It is the perfect background music for a cat stalking a mouse.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH