Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Birthday from Leonard Bernstein & Igor Stravinsky

Free Clipart Picture of a Birthday Cake with Candles. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart Guide.comI have just listened to the finished version of the new Maestro Classics' CD/MP3 download: The Soldier's Tale ("L'Histoire du Soldat") by Stravinsky, so it seemed very fitting that I was sent this video as a birthday card. I also encourage you to listen to the Aaron Copland "Happy Birthday" link that you can find there. Two American composers, each applying their very different styles to a tune we all know and love.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Building Your Family's Classical Music Library - No.2


In writing about sports and music, I again listened to Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man. Copland is such an accessible composer that his music almost unfailingly appeals to young people as well as their parents. was an American composer who lived from 1900-1990. Many people think that he has captured the quintessential American sound.

The recording by the Atlanta Symphony has many of Copland's well-known works, so if you listen to the sample of Fanfare for the Common Man, Copland: Appalachian Spring; Rodeo; Fanfare for the Common Man you might also want to listen to the samples of the other short works on the program. As with many of my posts, you will find that you can either select the 99-cent version for your library, or purchase the entire album. The CD has exceptional sound quality; the MP3 is very good, and you can have instant gratification!

If you think your children will enjoy classical music with stories, visit Maestro Classics' website.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Building a Classical Music Library - Where to Begin

I am going to try to recommend one piece of music each week to help the many people who ask me, "What classical should I have my children listen to?" Sometimes it is music to put in the background while they are doing homework; sometimes it is to ensure that they will not the only people in the room not recognize Beethoven's Fifth Symphony; sometimes it is to share their own love of classical music. So here goes....

This week's recommendation is Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, often called "The Pastorale." I particularly like the recording with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (Wiener Philharmoniker, in German), conducted by Karl Böhm Beethoven: Symphony No. 6, Schubert: Symphony No. 5 / Böhm, Vienna Philharmonic Orch.

Listen to the samples. Perhaps you only want to buy the 3rd movement for 99-cents and then decide if you want to purchase the entire album. It also has Schubert's Symphony No. 5. If you have a little patience, the sound quality is always better on the CD, but if you are impatient, as I sometimes am, buy the download.

Happy Listening!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sports and Classical Music?

The TV is now tuned to baseball in our house. The maestro always says that if he had not become a conductor, he would have wanted to be a sports announcer. This often surprises people who think that people in the arts should not be interested in sports. So I thought that I would write something about music and sports.
Can sports and classical mix?

Even I am surprised occasionally when I hear that a major sports figure loves classical music. Somehow, our society seems to separate physical prowess from aesthetic interests, but often this is not the case. Your baseball player or soccer star can enjoy classical music… if you can find the right music to capture their imagination, you and your child may be surprised.

Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna,” the introduction to his great work for chorus and orchestra, Carmina Burana, has often been heard a sporting events and is perhaps the most popular of all works among teenagers. The Atlanta Symphony with Robert Shaw conducting has a lively recording and I recommend Track One for 99-cents. Chinese athletes say that the most common "music prescriptions" for relaxation before an event include Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 and Debussy's Nocturnes. Frankly, I would only recommend the excellent recording of the Beethoven conducted by Karl Bohm (see link above). But if you want to feel heroic, try Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.

People are beginning to notice that when classical music is played in venues other than the concert hall, it has widespread audience appeal. An NBA game began with this introduction. And, an interesting article by a Greek doctor notes the positive effects of classical music on athletes, saying the music might work better than steroids.

When Maestro Classics’ Casey at the Bat CD was released a friend sent it to George Steinbrenner, the legendary Yankee owner. George was a great opera fan and I was thrilled when he wrote me a letter saying that he loved our Casey at the Bat. For any boy (or girl) who loves baseball and needs to memorize a poem for school, there is nothing as good as “Casey at the Bat,” and when you hear it with music, it is unforgettable.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Interview with Jeff Giles at

Maestro Stephen Simon and I had a great hour on the telephone talking with Jeff Giles of His 5-year-old daughter loves classical music and he was delighted that she enjoyed "My Name is Handel" as much as he did. So was I! You can read here.