ANTONIO VIVALDI (1678-1742) wrote "The 4 Seasons." He had red hair and was called "the red priest". He taught at a girl's school for many years.
Listen to a 'midi file' of "Summer". It tells about a summer storm."Fall (l'autumno)" from "The 4 Seasons." tells about a fox hunt. (It's Vivaldi who wrote all about the 4 seasons).
George Frederick Handel (1685-1759) was born in Germany. After studying opera in Italy we was hired by a prince. When went to England to write opera that prince became the King of England, George I. Handel wrote the "Water Music" for a party George I had on an open boat on the river Thames. Handel and the orchestra played on a barge nearby. Here is a minuet from the Water Music. Listen for the French Horn. Imagine how it sounded out on the river! Here is a fun worksheet from Classics for Kids.
Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) was born in Russia. He was a fine pianist, but he joined the army and became a military officer before studying composition. He worte Pictures at an Exhibition to honor his friend, Victor Hartman, an artist friend who died at age 39. The music describes his friend's paintings at an exhibition mounted after Hatman died. Here is a fun worksheet from Classics for Kids.
Benjamin Brittenwas born on Nov. 22, St. Cecelia's Day in Britain. St. Cecelia is the patron saint of music. He wrote the Ceremony of Carols on his return to England, after a long stay in the U.S. Here is a video of "Deo Gracias," the Britten listening selection we will hear from the Ceremony of Carols, from You Tube.
Johann Sebastian Bach was one of the greatest composers of all time. He spent most of his life in relative obscurity, as the musicdirector of St. Thomas' Church in Leipzig, Germany. He was most noted as an organist. Here is his G minor "Little" Fugue. He loved to write fugues, and was the best at that musical form.
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington/ Billy Strayhorn was born in Washington DC. He is perhaps best known American composer, having toured the world with his Orchestra, and he wrote hundreds of familiar songs and arrangements. He often collaborated with his arranger, Billy Strayhorn. We will listen to Elliungton and Strayhorn's arrangement of the Dance of the Toy Flutes by Tchaikovsky that they call "Toot Toot Tootie Toot."
John Adams is perhaps the best known American composer today. He lives here in the Bat Area - in Berkeley. He has a page on MySpace where you can listen to "A Short Ride on a Fast Machine" the work we will listen to. He also has his own website with lots of great information.
Antonin Dvorak is perhaps the best known Czech composer. He also visited America and was the head of what later became the New York Conservatory of Music. He visited america at a crucial time, encouraging American composers, until then virtually unknown in Europe, to listen to native American and African-American music as a source of inspiration. Both pieces we will listen to were written in the U.S., the famous "New World" Symphony (you will need the SCORCH plug-in to hearit)and the "American" String Quartet, in which a was inspired by an American bird that Dvorak heard on his summer vacation in Iowa, the scarlet tanager. Here is an NPR radio program telling all about it.