The Irish Washerwoman

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 Business of March

March Madness – John Philip Sousa is referred to as “the March King”…but is he OUR King of Marches?  We set up a bracket chart, just like college b’ball’s March Madness brackets, pitting four famous Sousa marches against four well loved marches by other composers.  We listen to marches every Friday night all year long, so my son has heard these marches MANY MANY MANY times, but to make this official, we are listening to one match-up each night, after which my son determines the favorite. Thus (so far):

march chart bright

(We’ll let you know.)

shamrocks

Shamrocks Rock (one of our story problems from last week) – Farmer Brown sells the cutest pots of shamrocks during the first two weeks of March.  He sells a box of 10 tiny pots for $25.  So far, 2 car dealerships have ordered 3 boxes each, 6 restaurants have ordered 2 boxes each, and 2 local businesses have ordered 10 boxes each.  How much will Farmer Brown gross on these sales?  If Farmer Brown pays 50 cents for each clay pot, what will he net on the sales, after he has paid for the clay pots?

French Foreign Legion

March of 1831 – We learned that The French Foreign Legion was founded in March of 1831.  The French Foreign Legion????  What provoked us to seek information about the French Foreign Legion?  Well, first of all, we want to know about EVERYTHING, and secondly, we are reading about Georgia-born Eugene Bullard (first black fighter pilot), who at the age of 19 found himself in Paris on the eve of WWI, so he joined the French Foreign Legion.  Well.  We needed to know exactly what the French Foreign Legion was about. Did you know that if you are fighting for the FFL and you are injured, you may apply immediately for French citizenship (you are considered “French by spilled blood”)?  Très intéressant. (vocab concept)

irish dance

Our Music – Getting in the mood for St. Patrick’s Day:
“Toora Loora Loora” – an Irish-American lullaby written in 1913 by James Royce Shannon. Extremely popular from the get-go, it was #1 on the music charts that year.  We like this rendition by “The Irish Tenors” because we like EVERYTHING by the Irish Tenors:

“The Irish Washerwoman” – a traditional Irish jig, arranged for the Boston Pops by LeRoy Anderson in 1947.  We found a video clip of Anderson’s “Washerwoman” played by the Rocky Mountain Wind Symphony. Nicely done!

“Danny Boy” – this sweet, sweet, tear-jerker ballad written by Frederic Weatherly in 1910, to the tune of “Londonderry Air”, is the unofficial signature song of Irish Americans and Irish Canadians.  Alert:  Somebody might want to know that “The Fabulous Danny Boy Album” features 12 excellent renditions of this song.  That is kind of a lot of a good thing.

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