Just a little Pachelbel to make your Monday bright

There’s nothing like this piece.  I remember long road-trips as a girl, staring out the windows and listening to this.  Hope it makes your day.

Art, Ballet, Dance, Music

Concert Etiquette for Children

Teresa Carreño, c. 1862 (printed later), Modern albumen print from wet plate collodion negative by Mathew Brady Studio. Taken with permission from Flicker with CC license by Cliff1066.
Teresa Carreño, c. 1862 *

Last Saturday we went to an Art Show at BYU.  My five year old was an ANGEL!  (She also did really well at the Nutcracker ballet when she was a few months shy of turning four.)   I think that children, even young ones (ages 4-6), can do very well at live events (concerts, plays, shows, etc.) IF;

  1. They are given expectations ahead of time.
  2. They are given background information (this music was used in that movie, or remember when we saw this picture, here are some more like it).
  3. They are given things to look for/listen to.
  4. They are taken to things that are relatively age appropriate.
  5. We remember their specific limitations. (For example, my two year old wasn’t an angel at the art museum, but it was during her nap time, after all).

Here are some ideas about expectations for different events.

Art Museums

Rules at art museums are in place to ensure that the art is kept in good condition and so that patrons can quietly meditate.  Often art has a spiritual or religious nature to it or it has been created to understand/process a difficult topic.

  • Quiet voices.
  • Follow the posted rules and guidelines.
  • Don’t TOUCH the art!
  • Typically no food, drink, gum, etc.
  • Usually no photography (flashes can damage some paintings).
  • Children should stay with parent/guardians the entire time (no running around, etc.)
  • Be aware of others around you – respect their space.
  • Ask me lots of questions 🙂 I’ll often stand with my girls and ask them to tell me what they see, or ask them to look for things.  For example –pick your favorite piece of art and tell me why you like it.
  • If I don’t know the answer, and as they get older I’m sure I won’t, we’ll ask the attendant/curators questions.

Concerts –

Typically classical music performances are more formal than other musical concerts (rock, country music, etc.), but an understanding of the etiquette guidelines will help concert goers to feel comfortable.  Help your child to understand that the performers have worked really hard (put in hours of practice) to get ready for the performance.

  • Dress – typically dress at a concert is formal to semi-formal (think of how one would dress when going to church, synagogue or place of worship).
  • Arrive and find your seat five to ten minutes early. An usher will help you find your place.  Quiet conversation is fine until the lights dim. If you arrive late, you will not be allowed to enter until intermission.
  • Program – You are usually given a program.  Though these are FULL of advertisements, there are usually some very helpful and educational program notes that are worth reading.
  • Stay in your seats – unless there is an emergency.  There is usually an intermission in which you can get up, stretch, use the facilities, etc.
  • No talking during the performance.  Also no cell phones, texting, eating, drinking, popping gum, etc. (Basically, show respect to the performers and those around you.)
  • Clapping – Usually after a performance there is a quiet moment in which all enjoy the magic of what just occurred.  Then the audience claps, sometimes shouts “bravo”, and at times gives a standing ovation when the work was particularly good.  Follow the audience as to appropriate times to clap (sometimes there are pauses between pieces (movements) when the audience does not clap).
  • Outdoor “Pops” Concerts – these concerts are less formal (dress is more casual, picnicking is sometimes allowed) but good manners are still expected.

Shows – Musicals, Operas, Ballet –

The rules are typically the same for these performances as those for a concert.   Again –

  • Make sure that the content is appropriate (will it be entertaining for the child?)
  • Make sure that the length is appropriate (shows can last for two or more hours.  Very young children fidget after 10 minutes. )
  • Introduce the children to the subject matter/story ahead of time – help them understand the story, listen to the music, give them things to look for.
  • A great idea is to show DVD/Video performances ahead of time, so that your children are familiar with the content.
  • Often there will be special children friendly performances which will be shorter or geared toward the kids.  Look out for these.

Introducing children to cultural activities is beneficial to your child, your family, and society because it gives them;

  • Appreciation for things of beauty and culture.
  • Manners – the realization that there are codes of behavior – ways to act that are appropriate in different situations.
  • Dressing up and going to an event makes kids feel special.  It’s exciting and fun!
  • An understanding that there are many wonderful and beautiful things in the world.
  • Hopefully in our fast-paced society, it will give them moments to stop and reflect quietly.  (Children need time learn to think.  I loved driving around in the car as a young girl, my parents would play classical music, and I would look out the windows and just think.)

It’s worth the time and effort to help your children learn to appreciate cultural events!

*Modern albumen print from wet plate collodion negative by Mathew Brady Studio. Taken with permission from Flicker with CC license by Cliff1066.

Music, Uncategorized

I Need Baroque!

Just found this CD at the Library.  Baby Needs Baroque, a 1998 collection (there are a ton in the series) You can buy it from Amazon, Target,, etc.  You can check out snippets from the songs and purchase for an MP3 player at many different links, here is one at Amazon.

Now, I bring this up, not because I work for the Baby Needs company or anything, but because;

  1. That is a seriously funny picture.
  2. Before I began this website, and started studying composers, I was never into Baroque music.  Now, I cannot get enough of it.  I’m serious.
  3. Lately, when I’ve wanted to calm my sweet, yet hyper, daughters down I’ve been putting in this CD – works like a charm.
  4. I’ve found a new favorite Baroque composer  – Georg Philipp Telemann, all of the new songs that captured my attention on this CD was his.

I’ll share my favorite Georg Philipp Telemann piece that was featured on the CD. Adagio from Concerto in D Major for Trumpet and Orchestra.  The trumpet is hauntingly beautiful.

This is a youtube video, poor video quality, but the sound is lovely because of the acoustics from the Church that they are practicing in. Brian Shaw, Baroque trumpet, in rehearsal with the BelleMeade Baroque Orchestra in Nashville, TN,  December 2008.

Composers, Music

Handel’s Messiah

As promised, I wanted to write in more detail about Handel’s Messiah in connection with the Christmas season and the previous post about George Frideric Handel in the composers section, then I read an article that perfectly stated the things that I wanted to share, and added much more.  An excerpt from it is as follows:

After all the music he had composed throughout his lifetime, Handel would eventually be known worldwide for this singular work, Messiah,largely composed in just three weeks during the late summer of 1741. Upon completing his composition, he humbly acknowledged, “God has visited me.”5 Those who feel the touch of the Holy Spirit as they experience the overpowering testimony of Handel’s Messiah would agree.

To the sponsors of the first performance of the oratorio, Handel stipulated that profits from this and all future performances of Messiah “be donated to prisoners, orphans, and the sick. I have myself been a very sick man, and am now cured,” he said. “I was a prisoner, and have been set free.”6

Following the first London performance of Messiah, a patron congratulated Handel on the excellent “entertainment.”

“My lord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them,” Handel humbly replied. “I wish to make them better.”7

The full article, Handel and the Gift of Messiah, by Elder Spencer J. Condie can be found here and is well worth a read.

Then today, I had a discussion with a friend about the Messiah, and he said that he didn’t know it.  I sang a few bars from the Hallelujah Chorus, which of course he had heard.  So, in honor of that friend, I will post a few of my favorite pieces from that Oratorio.

If you ever go to a Messiah sing-along, they are amazing!  The entire Messiah can be as long as three hours, (there are 52 movements, or sections, total) and it typically is performed by an Orchestra and Soloists, and the Audience sings with the soloists on the major ensemble pieces.  Here is a site that lists the movements and the text for each of the sections.

I’ll just share a few of the more familiar parts of the Oratorio –

For Unto Us a Child is Born the text comes from Isaiah 9:6 This is a performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The Hallelujah Chorus the text comes from Revelation 19:6, Revelation 11:15, Revelation 19:16.  This is a Flash Mob performance at the The Welland Seaway Mall, in Niagara Falls, Canada on November 13, 2010.  I chose this performance because I was truly touched by the emotion of  both the singers and the observers in the mall.

I Know that My Redeemer Liveth the text comes from Job 19:25-26.  I searched for a video that I thought did it justice, and though this is just a live recording, I love the ethereal sound of the soprano and the way that her voice sounds with the acoustics is just lovely.  It was sung by soprano Luísa Kurtz, accompanied by the UCS Orchestra on December 12, 2007, Catedral de Santa Teresa, Caxias do Sul, RS – Brazil.

(There is also an up-tempo, “pop” performance by Sister Gladys Knight.  I love it because she is singing her testimony.)

Some other lovely movements from this work are:

  • Comfort Ye My People
  • O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings to Zion
  • Glory to God in the Highest
  • Worthy is the Lamb and AMEN
Composers, Music, Uncategorized

Ombra Mai Fu and Water Music – AHH Handel

For Joyce –

I actually hadn’t heard of Ombra Mai Fu, and had to do some research (so thank you, because I found a new favorite).  It is is the opening aria from the 1738 opera Serse by George Frideric Handel and is quite lovely.  I don’t think they sound too similar, but then again, some of his work seems, at times, repetitive (forgive me, Handel).

I just wanted to post three more selections from Handel, in honor of  Joyce.

Ombra Mai Fu – This is Dmitri Hvorostovsky in Cardiff 1989, bad video quality and it cuts off abruptly, but it’s a little taste and WHAT a voice!

Water Music – Performed by The King’s Consort and Conducted by Robert King

Finally, if you don’t have time for anything else – THIS is worth a listen and a watch.

Music for the Royal Fireworks – From the Queen’s Jubilee Concerts, Buckingham Palace(2002) conducted by Andrew Davis.


George Frideric Handel

Handel in a 1733 portrait by Balthasar Denner

In honor of the Christmas season, my third composer is George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), born in Germany (Halle, Brandenburg-Prussia) and settled in London, becoming a naturalized British subject. He was trained in Italy and influenced by Italian Baroque and German Choral traditions.

A few interesting tidbits from his life are as follows:

  • According to John Mainwaring, his first biographer, “Handel had discovered such a strong propensity to Music, that his father who always intended him for the study of the Civil Law, had reason to be alarmed. He strictly forbade him to meddle with any musical instrument but Handel found means to get a little clavichord privately convey’d to a room at the top of the house. To this room he constantly stole when the family was asleep” (taken from a Wikipedia article on Handel).
  • He was a very good businessman, investing in the South Sea Stock, and starting three Opera Companies.  Even though, as business does, there were financial ups and downs  for Handel, he died a wealthy man.
  • He was a philanthropist, setting up a yearly benefit concert of the Messiah to benefit the Founding Hospital and giving to a charity for impoverished musicians and their families.
  • He wrote 42 Operas, 29 Oratorios, 120 other Choral works (cantatas, trios, duets, etc) and 16 Organ Concerti.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) stated  –  “Raphael paints wisdom, Handel sings it, Phidias carves it, Shakespeare writes it, Wren builds it, Columbus sails it, Luther preaches it, Washington arms it, Watt mechanizes it.”
  • Handel committed a lot of plagiarism, and when asked why, he said, “It’s much too good for him; he did not know what to do with it.” Another composer, William Boyce (1711-1779) said of it, “He takes other men’s pebbles and polishes them into diamonds.”
  • ” The figure of Handel was large, and he was somewhat corpulent, and unwieldy in his motion; but his countenance, which I remember as perfectly as that of any man I saw but yesterday, was full of ire and dignity; and such as impressed ideas of superiority and genius. He was impetuous, rough, and peremptory in his manners and conversations, but totally devoid of ill-nature or malevolence.” (Charles Burney, An Account of the Musical Performances…in Commemoration of Handel (1785))

Here is a sample of his work, Zadock the Priest, Coronation Anthem No. 1 (the most famous of these Anthems) and one that has always touched me.  This one was performed at the Queen’s Concerts, Buckingham Palace for her Majesty the Queen during her Golden Jubilee in 2002 – BBC Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Chorus conducted by Sir Andrew Davis.  I loved the video in the background of Queen Elizabeth’s actual coronation.

I have a list of some more of his works on the music page.

Research from this post came from the following sites – (for an in-depth look, and the source of many of the quotes)

Wikipedia (for a quick overview)

I will write more about his work, The Messiah, in the next post.


Top Ten Opera Favorites

I think that Opera gets such a bad wrap!  It can be so beautiful and powerful when sung correctly.  It takes so much talent and vocal power to sing like that.

As I was finding the music for this post, my two year old was on my lap and she wanted to hear the Hansel and Gretel over and over again.  So we’ll begin with that one.

1. Abendsegen or Evening Prayer from Engelbert Humperdinck’s  (I know, I love the name too!) Opera Hansel and Gretel, first performed in December 1893.  The Opera is in German, but the one here is in English.  I chose this version, because it was my little daughter’s favorite.

2. Der Hölle Rache or the Queen of the Night Aria from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute.  Another favorite song from this Opera is the Papageno-Papagena duet (my daughters really love it).  This version is Erika Miklosa’s performance, and while  she looks a bit creepy singing into the camera, the character is crazy and creepy.  More importantly, her voice is SO beautiful.

3. O Soave Fanciulla or Oh Gentle Maiden from Giacomo Puccini’s beautiful La Bohème, probably one of the most well known Operas worldwide.  The entire opera is worth a listen. The last few notes of this piece almost always make me cry, no matter the rendition.  This performance was Live from Berlin 7 July 2006, and the entire concert (The Berlin Concert: Live from the Waldbuhne) can be purchased on Amazon –  here.

Anna Netrebko is fast becoming my favorite and I really enjoyed Rolando Villazon.

4. The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves by Guiseppe Verdi found in his Opera Nabucco. I thought that this performance was particularly touching.  The tempo and power with which it is sung, and the photographs from the opera are fantastic.

5. Flower Duet from Leo Delibe’s  Opera Lakme. All I know about the concert is that it is from Baden Baden in 2007, sung by Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca.  This duet is heavenly.

6. In the early 90’s as an impressionable teenager, I saw the movie A Room with a View (1985) and there was a scene when Lucy Honeychurch is walking through a tall wheat field, and this man, George Emerson, that she has just met grabs her and kisses her.  It was a moment that has stayed with me for years.  The scene was set to Giacomo Puccini’s  Chi il bel sogno di Doretta from his Opera  La Rondine. Though this performance is dated (1982) it is sung so superbly by Leontyne Price.

7. Another song, used in that movie was O Mio Babinno Caro or Oh my Dear Papa, from Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. This performance is  Norwegian soprano, Sissel Kyrkjebø singing the aria  from her 2002 DVD concert All Good Things.

8. Sempre Libera from Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata. This is again Anna Netrebko & Rolando Villazónin concert at the 2005 Saltzberg Festival.  The performance has a very interesting modern set and costume design, which you may or may not like.  I have always loved the Tenor part singing from offstage.

9. Au Fond Du Temple Saint a duet from George Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers. This is one of the reasons that I love to hear men sing.  Listen to the beauty and power of this duet.  Eric Cutler and Nathan Gunn are the performers in this 2008 production in Chicago.


Here is a more complete performance (see comments on this post) –  Jonas Kaufmann and Dmitri Hvorostovsky sing in a 12/16/08 concert in Moscow.


10. The Master of Opera, Luciano Pavarotti and the song of all songs – Nessun Dorma, from Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot. There is nothing like it, this is the reason that I fell in love with opera.  Just listen to the final notes – phenomenal!

A final shout out goes to Britain’s Got Talent’s 2007 winner Paul Potts.  This video is truly brilliant.  They all think that he is going to tank as he begins to perform Nessun Dorma. The look on the faces of the judges and audience members is priceless.

Composers, Music

Johann Sebastian Bach

Bach in a 1748 portrait by Haussmann

My next composer is Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) a German composer who wrote during the Baroque period.  Bach was a proficient musician, playing the organ, harpsichord, violin, and viola and wrote and improvised copious amounts of music.

J.S. Bach came from a long line of musicians and four of his children became famous composers as well.  In three decades, over 50 Bachs were known musicians, several of them notable composers.

He was famous in his day as an Organist and Organ tester and constructor.  As a musician, a composer, and in his ability to take a musical theme and improvise on it.

Constantin Bellermann described his playing as follows; His feet seemed to fly across the pedals as if they were winged, and mighty sounds filled the church.

Another Musician of the time stated; His fingers were all of equal strength, all equally able to play with the finest precision. He had invented so comfortable a fingering that he could master the most difficult parts with perfect ease [using 5 fingers instead of the then normal 3]. He was able to accomplish passages on the pedals with his feet which would have given trouble to the fingers of many a clever player on the keyboard.

JS Bach had 20 children, though only ten lived to adulthood.  The first seven were with his first wife, Maria Barbara who suddenly died at age 35.  His second wife Anna Magdalena, was a gifted Soprano and 17 years his junior.  They had 13 children and a very loving relationship.

One thing that I found particularly interesting was that they would often have giant family musical parties and Anna Magdalena organized regular musical evenings featuring the whole family playing and singing together with visiting friends.

Another thing that I loved in researching his life was the fact that he would create notebooks of music for his wife (Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach) and children (many keyboard works for their instruction).  What a wonderful idea, to create something for the benefit and instruction of your own family.

I also found some quotes attributed to Bach that left an impression on me;

  • There’s nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself. 🙂
  • I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed . . . equally well.
  • The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.
  • Where there is devotional music, God is always at hand with His gracious presence.

Here is a youtube video of  Julian Lloyd Webber plays Bach’s Air on the G string with pianist Rebecca Woolcock.

My research for this came from the following places – (for a very in-depth look)

Wikipedia (for a quick over-view)

Mr. Bach Comes to Call, The Children’s Group, 1988 CD


Teaching Music Appreciation to Children

Here are some ideas of items that I have used to help introduce classical music to my girls.  Sure they hear plenty of “modern” music from their Dad, 🙂 and will eventually only listen to their ear-buds blasting the latest find from iTunes.  Hopefully though, I will have instilled in them a love for music that they can always come back to when they need to find some tranquility in this boisterous world.

Baby Einstein CDs

When my oldest daughter was an infant she used to SCREAM on long car rides.  That’s when I discovered the Baby Einstein CD’s. They are classical pieces that have been shortened and are played on a xylophone and other instruments.  Here is a place to preview their songs – it’s Amazon’s MP3 section for Baby Einstein.

I was never a real fan of the videos because a lot of them seemed like glorified toy commercials.  But the CD’s worked to settle her down in the car, which was what we desperately needed.  Thinking back now, I guess the music helped to settle us down too!

Disney’s Little Einsteins (TV/Movies)

As she grew a little bit older, we began to watch Disney’s Little Einsteins.  My friend Cydnee introduced them to me.  I loved the way that they taught simple elements of music – rhythm,  volume, and sound/pattern recognition, as well as teaching about art, music and composers.  My two year old has followed in her sister’s footsteps and asks for Little Einsteins every chance she can get.

Beethoven’s Wig (CDs)

As she grew older, I went to the library to see what I could find that would help to introduce Classical music in other ways.  One thing that we’ve loved has been the Beethoven’s Wig CD series.  Richard Perlmutter and his choir have made up silly lyrics to Classical pieces on the first half of the CD, and on the second, you can hear the music without the lyrics.

My girls LOVE it. They laugh and laugh and ask me to replay the songs repeatedly.  The link above will take you to the page on their site where you can listen to the full tracks of the first CD.

Here’s a youtube video from their concert (Sung to Beethoven’s 5th)-

Classical Kids (CDs)

There are some other CDs that we’ve enjoyed that I found, again at the library (I’m a fan! :)).  These were stories that introduced the music.  One was a CD about Mozart’s Opera, the Magic Flute, and another about Bach.  We enjoyed both of them immensely and then I found out that they were from the same producer.  Classical Kids is a group by Susan Hammond and she has a whole series of CDs to help introduce children to classical music.

From her website she states that the CD’s are – “A dramatic story, a little bit of history and the world’s best-loved classical music set the scene for fun-filled musical adventures the whole family will enjoy. It’s a symphony of stories for all ages, presenting the great composers – Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi and Handel — as heroes for today’s children.”

Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf  (Children’s Symphony)

Finally, I need to finish with Peter and the Wolf. It is a story written by Sergei Prokofiev during 1936.  He was commissioned to find a way to teach classical music to youth by writing a new musical symphony.  It has been recored a number of times and was made into a cartoon by Disney (which has a happier ending).  It wonderfully introduces instruments and musical themes to the listener.

I’m posting a youtube link to the David Bowie Narration of Peter and the Wolf from the May 1978 version released by RCA.  It is just the beginning of the story, but can be purchased on itunes or Amazon MP3 downloads.

I’m sure that there are many others ways to help teach music appreciation.  What have you done?


Franz Joseph Haydn

As I’ve been trying to update my Music section, I chose an artist that I had little knowledge of and decided to find out more about him while selecting the music that I loved that he created.  I’m going to do a section on composers that I can use to educate my children.  I hope that it will be helpful to you as well.

Haydn portrait by Thomas Hardy, 1792

I started with Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), an Austrian composer who is considered the “Father of the Symphony” and the “Father of the String Quartet” because of his important contributions, and the sheer volume of music that he composed.

Haydn was famous in his day and died a rich man.  He was friends with Mozart and a teacher of Beethoven.

Three ideas that struck me about his life were the following –

1.  He stated that he was “forced to become original” because he was isolated from other composers and trends in music.

I love this because it is difficult not to compare yourself and your creations to “the latest” but if you allow yourself to create what you like, you will not only be original, but you will develop your own perfected style and ability.

2.  As a young man, Haydn was poor and had been a servant, and later a busy entrepreneur, Haydn wrote his works quickly and in profusion, with frequent deadlines. As a rich man, Haydn now felt he had the privilege of taking his time and writing for posterity. Two of his symphonies – the Creation and the Seasons took over a year to compose.

It is fascinating to think about creating because you want to and creating because you must (to pay the bills, etc.)  My father’s family is always creating – art, literature, family treasures, etc.  They do it for the sheer love of making something, and because they’ve been working and practicing, they are able to sell their work.  What a contrast between that and being afraid to create because you don’t want to “get it wrong”.

3. In his older years, he was affected by illness to a point that he was unable to compose any more.  This was extremely difficult for him because “the flow of fresh musical ideas waiting to be worked out as compositions did not cease.”

This is a concept that I am all too familiar with.  So often I have 15 book ideas running around in my head and no time to write.  Aargh!

Another thing that it made me think about was how creative work breeds more creative ideas.  The human brain is amazing – you start small and more and more ideas come until you have a storage of ideas – so many that it’s hard to know what to work on first.  Becoming a being of creation rather than one of  destruction is exponential.  I wonder what other works Haydn has been writing in heaven. 🙂

Here is one my absolute all time favorite pieces of music that Haydn wrote – The Trumpet Concerto, enjoy!