It’s time for another installment of Classical Music Travels. This series is designed to help you mash up music appreciation with lots of other subjects. I say it all the time (because it is true!)…classical music studied in isolation is often way too abstract for young children. Attaching music appreciation studies to other subjects, however? Now we are talking.
Capriccio Espagnol // Rimsky-Korsakov
Interestingly, none of the composers were are featuring today are Spanish, and we are starting with a Russian, which is REALLY weird. Spain doesn’t have much of a history of classical music composers, strangely enough.
The inspiration for Capriccio Espagnol came from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s stint sailing a Navy ship as a young man. Ports in Spain allowed him exposure to local melodies that helped shape this piece. It kicks off with liberal use of the tambourine — a win in the eyes of any child 😉
Spanish Dance (Chocolate) from The Nutcracker // Tchaikovsky
The Spanish are pretty much the reason we have chocolate today (let’s all applaud that!). South American conquerors delivered chocolate beans back to Europe, so Tchaikovsky’s association between Spanish music and chocolate makes sense. This is one of the feature dances during Clara’s visit to the land of sweets in Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.
March of the Toreadors // Bizet
French composer George Bizet longed to create a great opera, which he did…sort of. Carmen premiered to horrendous reviews, and then Bizet died unexpectedly, believing his life’s work to be a complete failure. The genius of his creation was recognized later, however, and now Carmen is considered one of the greatest operas of all time. It takes place in sun-soaked Seville, Spain…land of bull-fighting and matadors.
Bolero // Ravel
Maurice Ravel, another French composer, composed the Spanish-flavored Bolero as a ballet for a famous Russian dancer. So many countries in one sentence! This tune has been described as relentless and insistent. Kind of like a toddler, except it’s classical music.
Spanish March // Strauss
Johann Strauss is the most famous of a trio of Strauss composers (the other two being his father and his less-famous brother). He is particularly known for his catchy waltzes and marches. His music was the hottest thing in Vienna, and crowds loved anything he produced. His Spanish March is not his most famous piece (this is)…but it is definitely the most Spanish…
Subject Integration Ideas
Here’s where it gets fun. Choose one of these activities (or let them spark your own ideas), and allow the activity and the music to work in tandem with one another.
- MUSIC: Today’s pieces fall in the camp of traditional classical music. For some true, deeply Spanish music, let’s dive into learning about flamenco. Head HERE for lots of good info and HERE to listen to an example.
- GEOGRAPHY: Head HERE for some fun facts and a map to help you identify some major cities…look for Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, and Granada.
- HISTORY: The marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella brought Spain together as a unified nation. Learn about these important rulers HERE.
- CULTURE: Spain is famous for afternoon siestas and tapas. Change up your school day with a special lunch and an afternoon rest. Fun tapas-for-kids recipe ideas HERE .
- ART: Spain is not known for famous composers but that’s not the case with artists. Learn about ten famous Spanish artists HERE.
Enjoy your (musical) travels!