MUSIC APPRECIATION THROUGH THE BACK DOOR
Welcome to a new series on the blog I am calling Music Appreciation Through the Back Door. There are lots of ways to integrate music appreciation lessons into your school day, and it’s fun to find ways to tap into other interests. I thought we’d start by taking advantage of the soon-igniting Winter Olympic fever and use some classic Olympic figure skating performances as a gateway to learning about classical music. Are you game? Let’s do it!
Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean // Bolero // Maurice Ravel
Originally composed as a ballet, Bolero is French composer Maurice Ravel’s most famous and enduring piece. The music is based on a Spanish dance, and children can easily observe the steady, building rhythm. Torvill and Dean made this music famous with their creative and memorable gold-medal winning performance at the 1984 Olympics.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir // Symphony No. 5 // Gustav Mahler
Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 is as lush and beautiful as this performance by Canadian ice dancers, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Mahler composed this work after suffering a hemorrhage that almost took his life. He retreated to a lakeside cabin to recover and ended up falling in love over the next year. This symphony was the result of a new appreciation for both life and love. Virtue and Moir won their gold medal on home ice in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Shizuka Arakawa // Nessun Dorma // Giacomo Puccini
I referenced this piece back when we talked about Puccini’s Nessun Dorma. The Olympics were taking place in Torino, Italy in 2006, and Japan’s Shizuka Arakawa wisely chose a beloved piece of Italian opera for her free skate. (Never a bad idea to get the locals on your side.)
Ekaterina Goordeeva and Sergei Grinkov // Moonlight Sonata // Ludwig van Beethoven
Married couple Goordeeva and Grinkov were gold medal winners in both the 1988 and the 1994 Olympics. Sergei died suddenly of a heart attack in 1995, making his loss one of the great tragedies of figure skating. They performed to Beethoven’s haunting Moonlight Sonata when they won their second gold medal.
Oksana Baiul // Swan Lake // Peter Tchaikovsky
In 1994, everyone’s eyes were on the off-ice drama taking place between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. Oksana Baiul took advantage of being out of the spotlight and fluttered her way to the top, helped in part by this short program set to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.
Enjoy this music while you wait for the 2018 Olympics to get underway!