Strauss

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

The Fireproof Safe

safe third

Prologue-
Q: Did my son know what a safe was?
Q: Did my son know what “fireproof” meant?
Those resolved, Q: If my son owned a factory that produced fireproof safes, how would he mark the occasion of the sale of the 20,000th safe?  (Wait, what?)  Would he do what the Wertheim Company of Vienna did in 1869?
The story – I estimate that my son and I have listened to Joseph Strauss’s “Feuerfest Polka” about 240 times.  It is fast-moving, happy, accented with the pinging of a hammer on an anvil, and comes with an adorable story – the polka was commissioned in 1869 by Franz von Wertheim, whose firm produced fireproof safes (feuerfest means fireproof in German).  The music was in celebration of Wertheim’s 20,000th safe! My son and I spent time imagining a company today commissioning a polka for the 20,000th production of anything.  This is SO GOLD.
“Feuerfest Polka”: the story continues – Because of the hammer/anvil pinging, we’ve been referring to Strauss’s piece as the “Blacksmith Polka” for years.  But last week it occurred to me that my son might not know what a blacksmith was.  Did he?  No.  Oh, dear.  Time to find out about blacksmithing.  We chose “History of the Blacksmith in Photographs” by Bryan Crawmer, and “The Backyard Blacksmith” by Lorelei Sims.  Both exceptionally helpful.  To conclude this unit I read aloud (the quite lengthy), “The Village Blacksmith” by Longfellow.

blacksmith books

Epilogue – Because of a very short piece of music, my son now knows about blacksmithing and fireproof safes.  AND BTW, The Wertheim Company is still making safes.

All is calm – We have just finished “The Prairie Builders” a superb book by Sneed B. Collard III, for which he received the American Association for Advancement of Science Award in 2006.  It chronicles the reconstruction of an 8,000+ acre tall grass prairie in Iowa, beginning in 1992 – the site preparation, the reintroduction of native seeds, bison, elk, butterflies. The pureness, calmness of both endeavor and writing reminds us of “The Ox-Cart Man” (Donald Hall/ Barbara Cooney, Caldecott Medal 1980).  Both soothing reads make us appreciate focused, honest work.

“How Trains Work” – a comprehensive, high energy, vibrantly illustrated Lonely Planet Kids Book. Our two favorite takeaways:
– We found out exactly how a funicular works.  We have known about funiculars, but did not have a grasp on the mechanics. (See blog post of November 22, 2014, “Mounting Interest”) (the post is one of my faves)
– We were reading about suspension railways (sort of like an upside-down monorail) and came across this SHOCKINGLY AWFUL YET HILARIOUS account: in 1950, for an ill-thought-out circus publicity stunt, an elephant named Tuffi was traveling on a suspension railway in Germany.  She FREAKED OUT and jumped out of the train (40 feet above ground). LUCKILY she landed in a river and was rescued. Well! This certainly speaks to the sturdiness of that particular suspension railroad.

Reading for great pleasure – We have just started Richard Peck’s book of short stories, “Past Perfect, Present Tense” and it is so A+.  The introduction, an essay on the short story genre, should be required reading. Two points stuck with us –
(semi-direct quote)  “Stories present the metaphor of change, to prepare the readers for changes coming in their lives.  NON-READERS WILL NEVER BE READY” (I added the caps)
(semi-direct quote)  “A short story isn’t easier to write than a novel.  It has less time to plead its case.”
Last night we read the first story in the collection, “Priscilla and the Wimps”, AND LOVED IT.  In the span of 4 pages, the best short story we have ever read.  First of all, THE TITLE.  Second of all, SWEET JUSTICE! Oh my gosh, the ending!  This is re-read worthy.

Story Problem – Le Fictitious Local Diner has an app! (not really)(for story problem purposes only) – And what’s on the app?  Videos of cooking demonstrations from local celebrity/diner chef Jeanette.  The diner is paying Chef Jeanette $50 for each uploaded video and $1 for every view.  Views so far:
– “Bake your own Potato Chips with Chef Jeanette”:  20 views
– “Diner Cherry Pie with Chef Jeanette”:  15 views
– “Diner Healthy Diet Plate with Chef Jeanette”:  0 views
– “Hot Dogs in Pastry Dough with Chef Jeanette”:  25 views
– “Let’s Make Salmon Treats for your Cat with Chef Jeanette”:  500 views
At this point, how much does the diner owe Chef Jeanette?
A) $250    B) $560    C) $810    D) $1,000 (answer at bottom of post)

From our classical music time –
To honor short stories:  the very shortest piece on our iPod – Glenn Gould’s lightning fast interpretation of Bach’s Invention No. 13 in A minor (composed in the early 1700’s).  Usually this piece takes just over a minute, Gould has shaved off 15 seconds –

To honor the Regal Fritillary butterfly, reintroduced to the prairie project:  a composition for piano and two flutes, “Deux Papillons” (Two Butterflies) by Emil Kronke, composed in 1739.  Spritely performance in gorgeous cathedral setting –

And of course, to honor Franz von Wertheim’s 20,000th fireproof safe, Josef Strauss’s “Feuerfest Polka”:  this performance is pretty cute, with conductor and “local blacksmith” fighting for control of the orchestra –

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(Story problem answer: C). $810)

New Year, New Books

2019

(Christmas gift – thank you Jimmy)  On the basis of a single book, “Women in Science”, my son and I welcome to our academic library ANY book book written by Rachel Ignotofsky.  WOW.  Ms. Ignotofsky certainly meets her goal of creating educational works of art;  this  dazzling book is intelligently organized and jammed with the kind of information we want to know about.  So far, we have been enticed into learning about the contributions of women astronomers, chemists, mathematicians, entomologists, paleontologists, engineers, electricians, geneticists, and geologists.  This book is such a keeper.

timeline book

(Christmas gift – thank you Aunt Janet)  The Smithsonian “Timelines of Everything” book offers up approximately 150 timelines, each commanding a giant two-page spread.  The focus of each timeline is narrow and we always find something worth discussing further.  For instance:

  • agriculture – we spent some time musing over the fact that sheep were raised for milk and food beginning around 7,000 BCE, but wool was not woven into into fabric until 4,000 BCE (Whoa. A 3,000 year time gap).
  • the wheel – the first wheels were potters’ wheels (we did not guess this – and we do know all about potters’ wheels from our study of ceramic artist George E. Ohr).  
  • the written word – we marveled over the Rosetta Stone.
  • games – we now know that when we play tic-tac-toe we are playing one of mankind’s oldest games (first century BCE) (seriously, the 3 Wise Men could have known how to play tic-tac-toe).
  • religions – I had no idea that this would lead to a discussion of REINCARNATION.  But, duh, OF COURSE.  If one hasn’t heard of reincarnation one would want to spend a bit of time grasping the concept.

styx malone

Fiction Fun – “The Season of Styx Malone”, by Kekla Magoon. Styx is full throttle coolness and confidence.  Do we trust him?  We just don’t know.  This keeps us leaning forward as we read chapter after chapter.  Please don’t disappoint us Styx!

running dog

A super short, super easy Farmer Brown story problem – Often people visiting the ranch bring their dogs, so Farmer Brown’s farmhands have fenced in two dog runs for visiting canines.  Which dog run will give the animals more square footage:  the 6’x25’ run or the 5’x30’ run?  (answer at bottom of post)

conductor match

Classical Quiz – I wanted to check to see if my son was retaining info about the great musicians we have been listening to, so he matched up virtuosos with their instrument.  A few conductors were tossed into the mix to make things tricky.  FYI:  my son scored 100%.

music notes

That sounds familiar –  It is no secret that composers often borrow musical ideas from other composers.  (Usually they give credit, sometimes they get into BIG trouble).  Anyway,  I happen to like tracing routes of melodies through the centuries, so my lucky son gets to enjoy listening to my melody match-ups.  Quick examples:

  • Jacque Arcadelt’s Ave Maria melody of the mid 1500’s can be found in both Camille Saint-Saens’ 1886 Organ Symphony and the Finlandia Hymn from Jean Sibelius’ 1899 symphonic poem, Finlandia.
  • Luigi Denza’s Finiculi Funicula (1880) is front and center in Richard Strauss’s  Aus Italian (1886) and in Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Neapolitan Song (1907).
  • Brahms’ Symphony 3, movement 3 (1883) provides the melody line for  Carlos Santana’s Love of My Life (1999).

And this leads us to Bach and Rock – 

lute

Last week we listened to Bourrée in E minor from JS Bach’s Lute Suite No. 1, composed around 1710.  Nice, short, memorable melody (and my son learned that a guitar may be substituted for a lute).  A jewel of a performance by Kevin Low – and check out the loose  guitar strings:  

Then we listened to rock-group-from-the-60’s/70’s Jethro Tull’s recording of “Bouree”.  Such a lively interpretation of the Bach suite movement, but it is clear that lead musician, Ian Anderson, had not much experience playing the flute.  We read a few interviews and found out that Anderson was a self-taught flutist, admitting that he had no idea what he was doing.  So we say BRAVO to his CAN DO attitude.  

We concluded by listening to a 2005 recording of Ian Anderson playing the same piece, “Bouree”, with orchestral support.  Anderson did well with the 35 year practice period!  YAY. 

Also, we learned that the real Jethro Tull (inspiration for the rock group’s name) was a noted British agriculture pioneer (1674-1741).

jethro tull

Welcome to the best part of my day!
-Jane BH
(Story problem answer:  both dog run designs have the same square footage – 150 square feet)

Meanwhile…

city book

Around the world in perhaps 150 days – my son and I are working our way through Lonely Planet’s “The Cities Book” (thoughtful Christmas gift from sister –  Lonely Planet books are so A+).  There is a two page spread for each of the 200 cities showcased , and we are managing one or two destinations per evening.  Ten categories define each city, but alas, most are of little interest to my son, so here is how we are using this book:
1- we find the city on the globe.  I am dismayed to report that there are several cities of significant population that I have previously never heard of, like Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (5 million) or Lahore, Pakistan (almost 9 million).  For shame!  So I learn along with my son and I just keep appreciating the opportunity.

globe

2- we find out how old the city is.  (eye-opener)
3- we read about the location’s “weaknesses” (beastly hot/spotty electricity/toxic smog levels)(always worth a side conversation).
4- we read about the city’s exports.  If the city produces enough of something to supply the city residents and the product is good enough to export, like coffee, oil, silks, and Siamese cats (!!!), we want to know about it.
And lastly, I should mention this book is quite large and weighs a lot.  I let my son guess how much it weighed.  He guessed 10 pounds, my husband guessed 2 pounds, I guessed 40 pounds (and ta-da! the book weighed in at 7.5 pounds on the cooking scale).  “The Cities Book” can be our new go-to device for pressing flowers or flattening out a curled document.

president book

Meanwhile, back in the USA – we are pretty much loving every page of Ken Jennings’ “Junior Genius Guide to U.S. Presidents”.  Frankly, we are planning on reading everything this super clever author publishes (we have read “Maphead” and his “Junior Genius Guide to Greek Mythology”).  We like to know quirky info like:
– James K. Polk accomplished all of his campaign goals in his first term!  Commendable, but at what cost?  (He quit after one term and died three months later.)  Jennings suggests that Polk’s time was spent “working, not having fun, working more”.  (It would be so interesting to get a glimpse of the family dynamics of his childhood.) (It looks like mirth and relaxation were not encouraged.)
– James Garfield came from the most economically deprived upbringing. He was 19 before he ever heard a piano!  He was 23 before he tasted a banana!
– Woodrow Wilson was the only president (so far) to earn a PhD.

herbs

Meanwhile, back at the ranch – Farmer Brown has all the seed catalogs out, anticipating planting a large herb garden once the winter frosts have passed.  He wants to purchase 40 heirloom seed packets at $4 per packet from the “It’s About Thyme” company and 25 seed packets at $5 each from the “To Bee or Not To Bee Heirloom Seed Company”.  If Farmer Brown budgeted $250 for his herb garden, will he have enough money buy all the seed packets? (answer at bottom of post)

NY Phil

Well, listen to this!   I have recently enlisted the assistance of personal trainer “Brute” (not his real name – smirk).  Brute promised that I could work out to my choice of music.  Yay!  So I said, “classical” and was met with the most puzzled expression.  (Seriously?)  To make it simple, I said I would be happy to listen to any recordings by the New York Philharmonic, to which Brute responded, “Hmmm, I have never heard of that band.”. (Seriously?) AAAAAAACK.  See? This is what happens when school systems are forced to cut funding from the music curriculum.  My son selected three pieces that he decided even a new classical music listener could love, and I found a recording of each by the New York Philharmonic:

  • “Mars”, from “The Planets” by Gustav Holst, composed around 1916.  The standard by which all scary aggressive music must be judged:

  • “The Radetzky March” , composed by Johann Strauss, Sr, in 1848, commissioned to commemorate Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz’s victory at the Battle of Custoza (Oh yeah, the Battle of Custoza)(?????).  This is just the dandiest of marches, maybe THE BEST MARCH EVER:

  • “Masquerade”, a waltz composed  in 1941 by Aram Khachaturian (as incidental music for a play of the same name).  Delicious, dark, depraved.  Yikes, it is all here:

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(story problem answer: NO)

Looking North

Our Canadian Unit: the 49th parallel propels us into action – While reading about Canadian provinces, and we came across this:  British Colombia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba border the United States along the 49th parallel north. WHAT???????? It was like our alarm clock clanged!  It was obviously time to learn about parallels, longitude, latitude and the like.  So, two books to the rescue:  we’re reading through the scholarly and quite fascinating “Longitude” by Dava Sobel, and “Maphead” by Ken Jennings is on deck.  BTW, “Wow Canada!” by Vivien Bowers is proving to be an excellent resource.

olivia 3

Fiction Fun – We were sorry to finish two entertaining books this past week: our 10th Tom Gates book, “Top of the Class (nearly)” by the utterly imaginative Liz Pichon (gosh we love those Tom Gates books) and a revisit read of Gordon Korman’s insightful “Schooled” (important read).  We’ve just begun “Olivia Bean Trivia Queen”, written by Donna Gephart, a new author for us. So far: YAY!

Reporting in on our Buffalo Bill unit:
– We have just finished “Presenting Buffalo Bill” –  We’ve impressed ourselves by absorbing the material of Candace Fleming’s long, brilliantly researched book.  We probably learned EVERYTHING about this over-the-top man,  a LOT about the myth of the “wild west”, and a BIT about some unsettling American government policies of the late 18th century.
– A side note:  Buffalo Bill fits the profile –  My son and I have studied many “larger than life” individuals whose impact has been significant.  To a person, the greater the achievement, the more glaring the personal deficit(s) (vocab).  William Cody fits the profile.  Poor Bill – literally POOR BILL – had no concept of money management.  Although this is a comparatively benign (vocab) deficit, how could his friends and family not shudder in horror as he plunged unthinkable quantities of money into one ill-advised investment after another.  Oh Bill!

canadian geese

Farmer Brown and the Canadian Geese story problem – Farmer Brown loves the honking sound of Canadian Geese as they fly over his ranch, migrating south for the winter or back north for the summer.  He was interested to read that a town in Kansas counted 1,800 geese as year-round residents, their number increasing to 18,000 every winter.  A percentage increase of what?  A. 10%      B. 100%      C. 1,000%  (answer at bottom of post)

Back to our Canada studies:  WE DID NOT SEE THIS COMING – Here we are knee deep into our unit on the Canadian provinces, learning about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Calgary Stampede, the Canadian Shield, poutine, puffins, prairie dogs – lovely, lovely, lovely and then, WHOA: smack in the middle of Canada, in the province of Manitoba: THE NARCISSE SNAKE DENS.  SNAKE DENS!!!!  We had to drop everything, find out more and look at GROSS WRIGGLING PHOTOS.  OK, here is the deal: every spring and fall, thousands and thousands of red-sided garter snakes congregate for a three week mating frenzy.

narcisse snake dens

Last night’s music:  A HISSY FIT – we pretended that the director of the Narcisse Snake Dens phoned and pleaded with us to plan a program of background music for the slithering sweethearts:

snakes

  • “Dance of the Seven Veils” from Richard Strauss’ one act opera, “Salome”, which premiered in 1905 (but was banned in London until 1907 for being WAY too steamy) (my son doesn’t need to know this).  This piece masterfully scores the out of control fever of the snake pits (thank you timpani) with the sinuous gliding of the snakes over and under each other (thank you snake charmy oboes).  This performance by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Santiago, conducted by Paolo Bortolameolli is SUPERB. TONS of energy:

  • “Blue Tango” by Leroy Anderson, composed in 1951.  We just laugh and laugh through this whole piece.  This is the go-to sassy music for a garter snake meet and greet:

  • We anthropomorphized (vocab) the snakes and imagined two snakes eyeing each other from opposite sides of the crowded and heaving den – and their hearts connect (we are laughing so hard) to “Some Enchanted Evening” from Rogers and Hammerstein’s 1949 “South Pacific” production:

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(story problem answer: C. 1,000% increase)

2016 – Gone, but not forgotten

2016-quiz

2016:  the year we learned more about –  the California Gold Rush, the insanely brilliant architecture of Gaudi, the work of bees, Eugene Bullard, homonyms, Hannibal, dwarf planets, George Washington Carver, patents, rodents, Rube Goldberg, computation involving triangles, etc, etc, etc.  Last night, my son took matching quiz that reviewed our academic studies from the past year, and earned an A+.  Good year.

macaulay-book

New book!  For Christmas, a special aunt and uncle sent my son David Macaulay’s classic, “The Way Things Work”.  This is obviously a mechanical engineering book lurking behind precise illustrations and hilarious examples.  This past week, we became experts on “the inclined plane” and “the lever”.  (In 2016, we learned a lot from Macauley’s books on “The Toilet” and “The Mill”, so we should emerge MENSA-worthy if we can absorb everything this comprehensive book offers.)

electricity

Story Problem from Le Fictitious Local Diner – The diner spent a lot of money on electricity in 2016; management is reviewing usage to see if they can cut back (perhaps a weekly “dining by candle-light” event might make a teeny dent in the diner’s electrical consumption).  To make decisions, management needs some facts:  if the diner was open 6 days a week, how many days in 2016 were they using electricity?  If the cooks were at the diner from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m., how many hours last year was the diner using electricity? (story problem answers at bottom of post)

2016

Music Listening in 2016 – My son and I welcomed an additional 85 classical (in the broadest sense) pieces into our iPod library this past year.  Last night, I presented a list of our fave 10 of these compositions and then my son picked his top three for listening.

10 pieces we first listened to in 2016 –

Ave Maria – Arcadelt
Banjoland Buffoonery – Kirkhope
Brandenberg Concerto No. 3 – Bach
Harp Concerto in A major – Dittersdorf
Organ Symphony, finale – Saint-Saens
Persian March – Strauss
Sailing By – Binge
String Quartet No. 2, scherzo – Borodin
The Anvil Chorus (Il Trovatore) – Verdi
Toccata in A major – Paradisi

music-faves-2016

My son’s selections for last night’s listening –

“Banjoland Buffoonery”, composed in 1998 by Grant Kirkhope for the Nintendo 64 video game, “Banjo-Kazooie”.  A short piece, packed with rollicking fun, AND an excellent (and accessible for the likes of my son and myself) example of theme and variation:

“Persian March”, composed by Johann Strauss II, in 1864.   My son cannot stop his toes from tapping to this marvelously exotic march (expertly played by a Polish youth orchestra) (SO heartening to witness excellence in youth):

“Sailing By”, written by Ronald Binge in 1963 and used by BBC Radio to introduce the late shipping forcast.  This sweet,  slumberous waltz gets our vote for most soothing lullaby.  When we just cannot deal with one more thing, THIS is our music:

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(story problem answers: 1) 312 days 2) 5,304 hours)

26 Candles!

candles

My son celebrated his birthday this past week!  Among the wrapped presents, two spectacular books:

wonder-garden-book

“Star Talk” by astrophysicist and consummate showman, Neil deGrasse Tyson.  So far – tremendously engrossing; last night we read about why astronauts grow taller in space (due to lack of gravity) (and apparently this is NOT good for bone density), the night before we learned how long it would take to travel to Mars via current space travel technology. (3 years).  Full of quirky facts and explanations, this is exactly the type of book we like to spend time with.

“The Wonder Garden” by Kristjana S. Williams and Jenny Broom focuses upon animal life in five distinct habitats (vocab) around the world.  We are in the middle of the Amazon Rain Forest (located it on the new globe/another birthday present!) chapter.  Gross fact from last night: the green anaconda NEVER STOPS GROWING.  Ewww ewww ewww.  Aside from that, this book is a jewel. The obsessively decorative artwork is first rate, the book is well written and the excellent research is apparent.  Learning materials were NOT this captivating when I was in school.

horseshoe

Story problem – Farmer Brown recycles used horseshoes!  Farmer Brown has 6 horses and is filling up a barrel with used horseshoes.  He has found a craftsman who would like to purchase the horseshoes and turn them into “good luck” wall art items.  If each horse gets fitted for new shoes every other month, how many used shoes will Farmer Brown have in the barrel at the end of a year?  If he is able to sell the used shoes to the craftsman for $10 each, how much money will he collect by the end of a year?  If it costs $125 to shoe one horse, how many horses could be shod from the money earned from selling the old shoes? (answers at bottom of post)

blacksmith

Speaking of horseshoes – our poem for the evening was “The Village Blacksmith” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1840), which led us to look at and talk about anvils (vocab) and bellows (vocab), which led us to our music theme:

Plink, clank, plink – the anvil as musical instrument!  What a most satisfactory listening experience:

anvil

The Anvil Chorus from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera of 1853, “Il Trovatore” (The Troubadour).  This song of the gypsies praises hard work, good wine, and gypsy women.  For my son, I emphasized the hard work and the unique sound of the sledge hammer hitting the anvil, and sort of didn’t mention the good wine and gypsy women.  Outstanding production:

The Feuerfest (fireproof) Polka, composed in 1869 by Josef Strauss, brother of waltz king, Johann Strauss II.  This is probably one of our top ten favorite classical pieces; we like to anticipate each anvil clang.  In this linked video Mariss Jansons conducts the Vienna Philharmonic WHILE “playing” the hammers and anvil.  Adorable, and kind of spellbinding.

– Finally, “Heigh Ho” from Disney’s 1937 blockbuster, “Snow White”.  Music by Frank Churchill, words by Larry Morey.  Anvil plinking all over the place.

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(story problem answers: 144,   $1,440,   11 horses)

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)

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

Something Blue

Here is what is going on: our family is gathering to toast an engagement announcement!  Oh my gosh!  Here starts the assemblage of “something old, new, borrowed, and blue”.  We are pretty excited.

engagement

So many arrangements!  So even though I am still doing stories and studies with my son every night (we just finished Charles Dickens and we are now reading about Princess Kaiulani of Hawaii), I won’t be able to put quality time into writing this blog until the end of October.

In the meantime, if you are yearning for something (ANYTHING) to read, here are some of my favorite posts:

blue face

If lack of a typically awesome blog entry renders you despondent, here is what my son and I listen to when we are feeling blue:

  • “Blue Skies”, composed by Irving Berlin in 1926.  It was one of the first songs performed in a talkie (Al Jolson’s, “The Jazz Singer”)!  The following film clip was taken from the movie, “White Christmas”.  Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye sing a handful of songs, concluding with “Blue Skies”.  Always fun!

  • “Blue Tango”, composed by Leroy Anderson in 1951.  My son cannot keep his feet still when we listen to this.  This video stars the always-over-the-top Liberace.  And why-oh-why need there be percussion played by phantom fingers?  And where did that trio of violinists come from?  (BTW, the violinist to the far left is Liberace’s bro, George.)  Vintage Liberace all the way.

  • “The Blue Danube Waltz” (really, “By the Beautiful Blue Danube”), composed by Johann Strauss II in 1867 for the Paris World’s Fair.  The most frustrating part of this composition is the LONG (a minute and a half) introduction. C’mon Johann, get on with the good stuff.  We found a video of a young man playing the waltz by rubbing a large line up of wine glasses, which means, a LOT of high pitches (I needed a Tylenol about 4 minutes into the piece).  Gimmicky?  Yeah, but well played and my son was riveted.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH