In 1994, President Bill Clinton issued a proclamation urging all Americans to observe September as Classical Music Month. And to that we say: Easier said than done Mr. Clinton.
We know what you’re thinking. Most people have an inexplicable aversion to classical music. While they can’t actually tell you what classical music is, they know for a fact they don’t like it. The truth is, most people don’t understand what classical music is, because the pedagogical elite have woven a definition too convoluted and complex to follow. We know. We tried.
But like Mr. Clinton said:
“In the symphony halls of our great cities across America, in the community centers of our small towns, on radio and in recordings, a note is played that began centuries ago and resounds to this day. At the heart of classical music is continuity and tradition.”
In other words, most of this stuff has been around for a really, really long time, and a lot of it is still really, really good. It’s a lot like picking out a flavor of ice cream. It just depends on what you’re in the mood for. Something light and lilting; rousing and bombastic; or whimsical and ethereal. You get the idea.
Now granted, we have taken the liberty of plowing through the aforementioned pedagogical muck, and simplified our terms regarding classical music. So for our purposes here, we limited our selections to the “Classic” Classical Style Period of 1750-1820. The instrumental musical forms we’re introducing to young listeners (of all ages) include concerto, symphony and sonata. We’re betting that once you read through our handful of Classical Music Terms, and follow through with the audio selections we’ve made for you, you’re bound to find something familiar and entertaining. So go forth, like Bill Clinton said, and celebrate this month “with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
You never know. You might like it.
Concerto is an instrumental work for orchestra that highlights a soloist or group of soloists.
Movements are self-contained sections that make up a larger work. They usually vary in tempo and character.
Symphony is a major work for an orchestra, including wind, string, and percussion instruments, usually composed in four movements, at least one of which is in sonata form.
Sonata is a piece of classical music for a solo instrument or a small ensemble that follows a specific compositional form.
Orchestra refers to a large group of musicians consisting of sections of string, woodwind, brass, and percussion players, and is directed by a conductor.
P.S. Teachers looking to implement a Classical Music Month Lesson Plan, should check out ours. We include a customizable lesson, printable assessments; and links to required audio resources. (Oh yeah, did I mention that it’s FREE?!)
And as always, we encourage you to experience music live whenever possible. So if you’re planning to attend a live performance of these or any other classical works, be sure and check out our post on When to Applaud During a Classical Concert.