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This is a continuing series I hope will be helpful in getting great classical music in your kids’ ears. Each month I am posting a playlist that will either reflect the mood of the season, highlight music-related historical events, or perhaps just introduce you to some great pieces of music I think you should know about.
Mostly I just want to help you create an ever-changing classical music soundtrack that will permeate your home with beauty. Training the affections happens early, and we want to teach our kids to love that which is good, true, and beautiful from the very youngest of ages.
I will also be creating companion lessons as the month goes on to highlight some of the pieces on the list – so check back!
You can find the October list on Spotify HERE.
(Spotify note: You do not have to be a paid member to access the list – you can set up a free Spotify account that allows you to listen with ads. FYI -with the free version, only shuffle play is allowed on mobile devices. If you use an actual computer, you can choose individual songs. My Spotify user name is kristihillmusic – just sign up and search my username to access the playlists.)
Ok, let’s get to our October Playlist!
I had (probably a little too much) fun this month tapping into the spooky side of classical music. It’s fun for kids to know that so many pieces of music they hear in association with Halloween are actually from the classical music world! I also have a few historical references and one or two that made the list simply because I am running out of time, and I really want you to know about these pieces 🙂 #trueconfessions
In the Hall of the Mountain King // Grieg
From Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite, the music paints the picture of the protagonist tip-toeing through a castle, desperate to hide from angry trolls. It is easy to hear the moment in the music when Peer Gynt is discovered!
Toccata and Fugue // Bach
This is the quintessential Halloween music associated with haunted houses and gravestones that open when you pass by. (Oh. That’s just my neighbor??). My students always get a kick out of finding out it was written by a guy who wore a wig. The fact doesn’t compute, and it makes me laugh every time.
Zadok the Priest // Handel
Zadok the Priest was originally composed for England’s coronation of King George II, which took place on October 11, 1727. The piece has been used at every British coronation since.
Nimrod from Enigma Variations // Elgar
A tortured and insecure soul, Elgar often considered abandoning his music. The support of family and friends sustained him throughout his career, and he wrote the Enigma Variations as secret messages of appreciation. Nimrod was composed for Augustus Jaeger, Elgar’s close friend and faithful supporter.
Danse Macabre // Saint-Saens
Perhaps the most innately Halloween-y tune on the list, Danse Macbre is based on an old French superstition that “Death” shows up at midnight on Halloween to call the dead from their graves. The dead proceed to dance to his fiddle (you can hear it early in the piece) until the rooster crows, at which point they return to their graves until next year. Saint-Saens uses the xylophone to represent rattling bones. Clever and creepy, Monsieur!
Moonlight Sonata // Beethoven
Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata was known to Ludwig himself as simply Piano Concerto No. 14. It wasn’t until many years after his death that a music critic ascribed the moonlight moniker, when Beethoven’s moody tune brought to mind the beauty of the moon shining down on Lake Lucerne.
Largo from Xerxes // Handel
Handel makes the list twice this month. Number 1: I love him. Number 2: Your ears need a break from all this Halloween-y music. Number 3: I haven’t gotten to this gorgeous piece yet, and I love it. It is also known as Ombra Mai Fu, but don’t worry about that. Just enjoy how gorgeous it is. I included the instrumental version, for the sake of maximum calming peace. If you want to hear the lyrics, try THIS.
Ride of the Valkyries // Wagner
Rooted in Norse mythology, a Valkyrie is a female war figure. This famous piece opens Act 3 of one of Wagner’s famous Ring operas. Who cares about that! It’s so fun!
Night on Bald Mountain // Mussorgsky
This is some of the creepiest classical music around. Based on Russian legend, Modest Mussorgky’s menacing tune depicts a group of witches that escape to the top of a barren mountain to plot their next dastardly deeds.
Also Sprach Zarathustra // Strauss
Sci-fi music? Or classical? Both! Strauss’ piece was effectively used in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey and has been famous ever since.
Enjoy this month’s list – it’s a fun one! I’ll be back next Wednesday with our first lesson.