Dance of the Hours

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

Old Business

blue-barrow-map

An old name is a new name – How did this bit of news pass us by?  My son and I just learned that the citizens of Barrow, Alaska voted this past October to change the city’s name back to its ancient traditional name, Utqiagvik!  (Doesn’t everybody know that we love knowing stuff like this?)  The town has been called Utqiagvik – meaning “place for gathering wild roots” – for the past 1,500 years but has been officially “Barrow” since 1825.  Apparently, the governor of Alaska has until mid-December to rule on the name change.  Will the governor want to mess with the decision of the people in America’s northern-most city?  We are standing by!

Animals of yesteryear – our current course of study:  “Lost Animals – Extinction and the Photographic Record”, by Errol Fuller.  Fuller’s research is thorough and each chapter follows a particular species from it’s heyday to its regrettable demise (mostly there are a LOT of bird species that are no longer with us) (and we really wish color photography had been around before the pink headed duck of the Ganges River became extinct).  Last night we read about the thylacine – a species that was in existence when my son’s grandparents were children.  The stories captivate, stay with us, and I think make us more aware and maybe worried for the distant future of every healthy animal we see.

betsy

Well, here is an OLDIE – we are enjoying “Understood Betsy” written by Dorothy Canfield Fisher 1917.  This classic shows up on many recommended reading lists, and I was finally persuaded to give it a try after reading a mini-bio of Ms. Fisher on the always informative “Focus on Fraternity” blog (franbecque.com).  Happy surprise!  This book presents a wealth of information about how things were 100 years ago, there is a dash of adventure, and a pervasive advocacy of self sufficiency which should put this book on a required reading list for parents and teachers.

cloth-napkins

Story problem from Le Fictitious Local Diner – The diner is bringing back an old tradition for the month of December: cloth napkins.  They are going to see if it is more economical to rent cloth napkins or to purchase napkins and have them laundered by a service.  The diner goes through 200 napkins daily.  Cloth napkins rental price:  200 napkins for $25.  The laundry service charges $10 to wash and press 200 napkins, but the diner would have to purchase two days worth of napkins first (at a cost of $3 per unit).  If the diner decides to use cloth napkins for December, should they rent or own/pay for a laundry service?  What is the least they can spend for this festive endeavor? (answers at bottom of post)

The music theme this past week:  PARODIES (vocab) – When I was in 5th grade, my friend Pam received the best-record-album-ever at her birthday party: Allan Sherman’s “My Son the Nut”.  I absolutely collapsed in laughter just looking at the album cover (Mr. Sherman, up to his neck in assorted nuts); I did not believe that anything could be more screamingly hilarious (hey folks, this was the early 1960’s – simpler expectations).  On top of a great album cover, THE CLEVER PARODIES!   What fun, some 45 years later, to share this listening experience with my son.

my-son-the-nut

This past week, we matched up a few songs from “My Son the Nut” with the classical compositions from which they were inspired:

“Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah”:  the lyrics were written to a theme from Amilcare Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” (1876).  “Dance of the Hours” was also used in Disney’s “Fantasia” of 1940.

“Hungarian Goulash No. 5”:  the lyrics were written to Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance No. 5” (1869). Gustavo Dudamel conducts in this video – and you know how I feel about Mr. Dudamel.  MERCY.

“Here’s to the Crabgrass”:  the lyrics were written to Percy Grainger’s “Country Gardens” (1918).  This performance by the Hastings College Wind Ensemble really scoots along.

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(Story problem answers: the diner should definitely rent the napkins, renting will run $775. Purchasing napkins and paying a laundry service will cost almost twice as much.)

Inventors Invent

rube goldberg

Patents and Inventions – every night for the past few weeks my son and I have looked forward to opening Travis Brown’s book, “Popular Patents”.  We’ve read about patents issued for the adding machine, barbed wire, the moveable-frame beehive, billiard balls, bottle caps, cannons, the safety elevator, fertilizer, frozen foods, glass bottles, helicopters, and the zipper.  What we love is that each story has some crazy angle (like how zippers were called “hookless fasteners” until an order for 150,000 units were  placed by the Goodrich Company for their “Zipper Boots”).  And we continue to notice how EVERY single story reveals inventors that carry patents for MULTIPLE non-related items.  They cannot seem to stop: inventors invent!

patent books and toilet

Speaking of Fertilizer (first US patent for artificial fertilizer granted in 1859) – we read through (OH MY GOSH) “TOILET – How It Works”, meticulously illustrated by David Macaulay.  This is a quick little book that can give EVERYBODY a basic knowledge of their toilet and a HUGE appreciation for every city’s wastewater treatment plant (on behalf of all clueless citizenry, thank you wastewater treatment plant workers) (possibly a type of employment that might be worse than being a middle-school bus driver).

AA006323

Yoohoo!  Vikings!  We are reading through another Graphic Library (think glorified comic book) offering, this one about the Vikings, “Lords of the Sea – the Vikings Explore the North Atlantic”.  My, these were a hardy people.  We are finding it interesting to put the Viking explorations to North America in timeline context with the likes of Christopher Columbus and the Mayflower Pilgrims.  And BTW, we’ve learned that Vikings never wore helmets with horns.

falcon book

Reading for fun – My husband and I enjoy the screenwriting of Anthony Horowitz (think “Foyle’s War”), so when I found out that he wrote for the young adult level, I knew my son and I would want to give this a try.  We have started his book, “The Falcon’s Malteser”.  Lots of things to explain to my son as we read along (starting with the title), but this is a very fun, very clever detective novel. Perfect level for my son.

chef hatchef hatchef hat

Who’s Cooking at Le Fictitious Local Diner? (story problem) – in August, the diner is offering two week-long (Monday through Friday) cooking camps; one for 7th and 8th graders and one for high school students.  The class fee is $200 per student and includes lunch every day and a chef hat. There is room for 10 students in each camp.  If it costs the diner $4 for each lunch, and $50 for cooking materials for each student for a week, and a chef’s hat costs $6 each, how much will the diner spend on each camper?  At the end of camp, how much will the diner have netted? (answer at bottom of post)

Only Fun Music Allowed (our classical music theme last night) –

  • “Dance of the Hours” (note:  this piece has a LONG 2 minute intro –  the high voltage fun begins about 7.5 minutes into piece), from the opera “La Gioconda” (1880) by Amilcare Ponchielli.  Even though this music was hilariously and successfully used in Disney’s “Fantasia” and Allen Sherman’s “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah”, we were sorry to learn that “La Gioconda” is actually a heart-wrenching tragedy.  But anyway:

  • “Chicken Reel”, written in 1910 by Joseph Daly (and used in several animated cartoons to depict rollicking farm life), and arranged for orchestra by LeRoy Anderson in 1946.  Anderson had so much fun with this – beginning with the ridiculously grand aggressive Paso Doble introduction. Great piece:

  • “The Pink Panther”, the iconic Henry Mancini piece composed in 1963. (My son and I love the triangle action.) This short film clip showcases Henry Mancini as conductor, as well as bits of Pink Panther cartoon magic:

Welcome to the best part of my day!
Jane BH
(story problem answers:  $76, $2,480)