Want to incorporate classical music appreciation as a weekly component in your homeschool schedule? Come check out my kid-friendly, easy-on-the-parents Music Curriculum. You can try a free sample lesson HERE.
Here are our May Lessons so far:
- The Lark Ascending // Vaughan Williams
- Symphony #5 // Beethoven
- Songs My Mother Taught Me // Dvořák
- The Cuckoo and Aviary // Saint-Saëns
One Big Excuse
Happy Birthday, Mr. Fauré!
Yes, May is Gabriel Fauré’s birthday month, but let’s be real, it was just an excuse to get this gorgeous piece of music on a monthly playlist.
I am nothing if not high-minded and pure in my playlist creation.
Lots of classical music is recognizable from commercials, movies, pop culture, etc. This piece may or may not fall in that category for you, and that’s fun too. I love introducing people to new composers and pieces they may have never heard of. It’s part of the human experience to learn, grow, and expand, and I happen to use music as my vehicle to encourage that – for kids and adults.
Gabriel Fauré is one of the most underrated composers of his day, according to the smart music people anyway, so let’s get to know him and his Pavane.
Turn this on in the background while you keep reading…
Just Dance, Dance, Dance, Dance
Let’s talk about the word Pavane. It’s a thing, not just a title. A dance, in fact. Let’s call it the Virginia Reel of the 16th and 17th century European courts.
What? You don’t know the Virginia Reel either??? Did you not have square dancing as a P.E. rotation in elementary school??
A Pavane was a lovely little dance the fancy people did in palaces across Europe. Pavanes originated in Italy, and lots of composers wrote music for them. Fauré’s contemporary, Maurice Ravel, wrote a famous one called Pavane for a Dead Princess. Which is not as depressing as it sounds, believe it or not.
Want to see what a pavane looks like? You might have a Renaissance Festival moment:
One of the big myths about classical music is that it is all really serious. Not so, and this is exhibit A.
SO MUCH CLASSICAL music was written for dancing. Party music. Entertainment music. Nothing more. We act like it’s fancy now, but a lot of it wasn’t that fancy then.
Since composers often were keen on where their bread was buttered, they wrote dancing music to keep the fancy people entertained. Polkas (we’ve talked about two here and here), waltzes (here), and pavanes were all pieces expressly written for dancing.
There are lots more dances including, and I kid you not, the fandango. The fancy people were nothing if not committed to variety.
What The Patron Wants…
Fauré took his inspiration from the Spanish courts for this particular pavane. He originally wrote the piece only for piano but eventually added a full orchestra. He also added lyrics and a chorus, upon the request of his patron, Countess Greffulhe. She was his bread-butterer, so to speak, so if the Countess wanted a chorus, Fauré was keen to produce a chorus.
(The Countess was a pretty fascinating lady, in fact. Tomorrow’s newsletter will include more about her! Hop on my mailing list if you haven’t already.)
I always love good mash-up, so how about we finish today with a little Fauré meets Sia? It’s like those Grammy Awards collaborations, if only Gabriel could time travel: