Symphony No. 3

Riveting!

levi strauss pants

Our current history unit is riveting – or more precisely, it’s about rivets.  We are reading about the blue jeans empire of Levi Strauss & Company, (“Images of America – Levi Strauss & Co.” by historian Lynn Downey).  We’ve learned that Levi Strauss, of San Francisco, teamed with tailor, Jacob Davis, in 1873 to manufacture an extra-hard-wearing work pant – the key to their immense success was their patented rivets-on-the-corners-of-the-pockets design.  But this unit is giving us an opportunity to learn more than just about the jeans: we’ve talked about why Levi Strauss was said to have haled from Bavaria (not Germany) (actually we learned about this from our previous study on Otto von Bismarck), we’ve learned about the devastating San Francisco earthquake of 1906, we’ve learned what “dry goods” are, we’ve looked at print advertising of the early 1900’s AND we’ve learned about rivets.  Another great study unit!

greetings from India postcard      indiana postcard 2

TRAVEL BARGAIN!  13,000 extra miles for $4.00!  I often purchase our books via the “used book associate sellers” on Amazon. (It is amazing how many books I have purchased for 1 penny, plus shipping.)  I usually look to see where the seller is located so I can gauge how long it might take to receive the book.  Last week I ordered a series of “Tom Gates” books from what I thought was a seller in Indiana.  What a surprise to find out that I ordered the series from a seller in INDIA!!!  Crazily, the shipping cost for 7 books was a mere $4.00 and I received the order within a week.  A+ on all levels!  Before we cracked open the first book, we got out the globe, located both Indiana and India, had a small laugh over the 13,000 mile distance, then we traced the route the books may have taken from India to reach us in Texas.

andes mints after eight mints

A mintylicious story problem from Le Fictitious Local Diner – the diner has plans to serve up after-dinner mints with the check at the end of every meal.  The question is, which mints?  The busboys are voting for “Andes Mints” (primarily because one of the busboys is named “Andy”, and wouldn’t that be a riot?).  The waitresses think “After Eight” mints are much classier.  The diner’s accountant told the staff that it is the thought that counts and strongly suggested they purchase the most cost efficient (cheapest) (vocab) mint.  So:
After Eight Mints – each box contains 25 mints.  A package of 6 boxes sells for $22.
Andes Mints – 5 pounds of Andes Mints can be purchased for $34. There are 70 mints in each pound.

A.  How much does a single mint of each type cost (we learned about “rounding up”)?
B.  The diner is going with the least expensive mint.  If  700 hundred dinners are served per week, and each will conclude with a mint, how much will the diner be spending on mints per month? (we are not including tax or shipping costs)(answers at bottom of post)

lute player

“The Lute Player” by Caravaggio, with sheet music by Jacques Arcadelt.  Whoa.

Three Hymns from One – As I have mentioned previously, my son and I listen to music of an ecclesiastical nature on Sunday nights.  This past Sunday night we followed the path of a hymn written in the mid-1500s by Jacques Arcadelt.

First, Arcadelt’s “Ave Maria“.  We are not sure who is singing here, but the acoustics of the Joy Burns Plaza are insanely effective.  A LOT of sound from 4 vocalists:

Next, the finale to Camille Saint-Saens’ “Symphony No. 3 in C minor” (the “Organ Symphony”), composed in 1886. Of this symphony, Saint-Saens wrote “I gave everything to it I was able to give. What I have here accomplished, I will never achieve again.” Doesn’t this make you desperate to have a listen?  Of course, we sort of always like to hear any piece played on a gigantic pipe organ.  We clearly hear Arcadelt’s hymn in this piece:

Finally, we listened to Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia Hymn”, a small part of his 9-minute “Finlandia” composition.  Again, we hear the influence of Arcadelt’s “Ave Maria”.  “Finlandia” was written in 1899, and words to the hymn portion in 1941.  My son and I are suckers for flashmobs – a train station in Finland is the setting for this wonderful event:

We also wanted to hear the entire “Finlandia” composition.  This recording came from the opening performance of the new music hall in Helsinki, 2011.  The hymn starts about 5 minutes 30 seconds into the piece (alert:  the piece is rather menacing in the beginning – the message is clearly “Don’t Mess with Finland”).  Stirring:

Welcome to the best part of my day.
– Jane BH
Story problem answers:
A. each Andes mint costs approximately 10 cents, each After Eight mint costs approximately 15 cents
B. $272

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