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When I started crafting the November Playlist, things got a little random. For every previous month I infused a ton of intentionality as to which pieces went on which list. Whether it was a seasonal connection or something to do with music history…or the composer’s birthday…or the date the piece premiered…there were reasons for everything.
December has been planned for a while, loaded with all the best seasonal classical music. I had one more month and a long list of great pieces that had yet to make it on a playlist. So, I threw planning to the wind and made November simply about great music. On this list are some of my favorite pieces to teach, and they don’t have much (or any) connection to the month of November.
Ok, now that I’ve come clean, let me introduce you to a really fun piece. I couldn’t exit this year without helping you teach your kids Joseph Haydn’s fantastic Surprise Symphony. It is so much fun.
As we talked with Mr. Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, symphonies almost always have four distinct parts…known as movements. Usually the 2nd movement in a given symphony is not the most famous. It’s not usually the star.
But not in this case!
Here’s the story:
Haydn was no slouch on symphony writing. In fact, he is known as the Father of the Symphony – he pretty much pioneered the whole format. And wrote 104 of them. That’s a lot of symphonies.
The Surprise Symphony is technically known as Symphony No. 94, and it is part of a collection of symphonies Haydn wrote while spending time in London. They are called — shockingly — the London Symphonies.
Now no one knows this to be fully true, but legend says Haydn had a little bit of an agenda with #94. He was concerned audiences were becomingly overly familiar with his work, and his wanted to put a little “insurance” into this one, to make sure everyone stayed on their toes and didn’t drift off once the symphony was underway. The 2nd movement was the perfect place to plant his little trick…
Giving your child only that piece of information, have them listen:
I love to have my children count the “surprises” and we laugh about Mr. Haydn making sure no one fell asleep during his symphony. Enjoy this fun piece!
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