Spotlight on Beethoven’s 6th: Pastoral Symphony

Boys: you know that feeling when a video game you’ve been wanting for FOREVER is finally out at the store?

Or girls: that feeling when a (pick a hunky actor/Hemsworth brother) movie you’re dying to see is FINALLY coming out this weekend because it seems like you’ve been seeing trailers for it for YEARS?

Well, that’s the feeling I get when I have an opportunity to attend a live performance of Beethoven’s 6th Symphony – the Pastoral. Yes – I am a music nerd!!

The Maestro!

The Maestro!

Last year, this opportunity presented itself when the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performed Beethoven’s Pastoral as one of their season concerts. I was so excited I could barely contain myself. I dragged my entire family to go listen with me. And it was magnificent (at least, for me it was!). Beethoven loved being in the countryside, and we are so fortunate that he chose to dedicate an entire musical work to describing some of what he loved most about that landscape.

I love that this is one of Beethoven’s only symphonies that he wrote with a specific story line in mind. I love that there are so many beautiful, very visual themes in this work. And I love the feelings of joy and serenity that the music makes me feel when I listen to it. If you get a chance to attend a live performance of this work, I highly recommend it.

The link below to Wikipedia contains a description of each of the five movements in Beethoven’s Pastoral, as well as some general history. Read through these descriptions before you listen to the Symphony so you have a better understanding of the musical scenes that Beethoven is describing in each movement. Then listen to the Pastoral and see if you can follow along with the Wiki descriptions.

Wikipedia article about 6th Symphony, with movement descriptions

YouTube video performance of 6th Symphony, conducted by one of my favorite conductors, Paavo Järvi (this is one of the selections in my Classical Era playlist for March)

Recording information

If you’re interested in purchasing a recording of this performance…

Were you able to hear the story that Beethoven is telling about country life? Isn’t it happy and beautiful? 🙂 Let me know what you think!

March: Classical Era of Music

So what did everyone think of the Baroque Era music we listened to in February? Did you like it, or it wasn’t really your favorite? I think the counterpoint is quite interesting to listen to.

We now move to the Classical Era (1770 – 1820). This Era produced something that is very important to us as students of the piano. The piano was invented during this time! 🙂

This Era also produced some of my most favorite works of music. It was so hard to choose which pieces to share with you on my YouTube playlist – there are just so many good ones! Click here to visit my Classical Era Playlist on YouTube. As you listen to these selections, think about how they are the same or different from the Baroque Era selections. Also think about what you might like or dislike about the Classical style.

Classical Era YouTube Playlist - so many great selections!!

Classical Era YouTube Playlist – so many great selections!!

The March Classical Era Overview document gives you an idea of the topics that we will cover this month during our Classical Era studies. This document also details a suggested weekly progression for completing this month’s lap books.

There are so many great composers from this period of music – too many to study in one month! We will focus on two of the better-known composers: Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Most people are familiar with at least one or two melodies from these composers.

And don’t forget to add your Classical Era pocket into your Eras of Music folder (yellow folder). The Classical Era pocket should be glued in below the Baroque Era pocket (see my post on “Eras of Music Lap Book” to review what that should look like).



Twinkle, Twinkle, Little… Mozart??

Did you know that Mozart composed a song based on the theme for Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, and wrote 12 variations on that theme? The theme is actually an old French song (long before the lyrics for Twinkle, Twinkle were written) called “Ah! Vous Dirai-je Maman?” (“Shall I tell you, Mother?”). Mozart’s variations on this theme are delightful and fun, like much of the music he composed.

Our second composer study in March will be Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart produced a lot of music during his relatively short lifetime, including some of the most beloved operas of all time. He composed his first piece at 5 years of age, impressing his father (who had not realized at that time the full extent of his musical genius).

Our Mozart lap book is pictured below. My favorite part of this lap book is the fold-out with Mozart’s full name. Not a lot of people know all of his names, but you will! I also like the pictures of the members of his family.

Cover of Mozart Lap Book

Cover of Mozart Lap Book

Inside Mozart Lap Book

Inside of Mozart Lap Book

Leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite part of the Mozart lap book is!