Intro to the Classics

We had a lovely time last weekend with our son and his family. We were busy with cooking and eating and visiting and all the things you do when there is a three year old in the house. Grandson loves to dance and has a pretty good sense of melody and pitch, so I thought it would be fun to introduce him to some classical music.

We have a CD of Peter and the Wolf and The Carnival of the Animals performed by the Vienna Philharmonic and duo pianists Alfons and Aloys Kontarsky, with Karl Bohm conducting. Both are narrated by Hermione Gingold. I love her voice and expressiveness. She sounds so plummy, except when she drops into Cockney when she gets to the part where the wolf eats the duck “And he swallowed her rye tup!” The Carnival text was some cheesy poems by Oden Nash, but even that was ok with her narrating.

Grandson loved the stories. We acted out the motions of the animals with the music. He thought being the wolf was the best, even better than being Peter. It is so much fun to howl and roar, you see, even when you are being taken to the zoo. He especially liked marching to the lion’s music and roaring, jumping like the kangaroos, and waltzing like the elephants. I told him to imagine that the finale of Carnival was music for the monkeys in the zoo.

As we were saying our goodbyes on Monday, Grandson rather spontaneously called out from his car seat “Thank you for the lions and the wolfs, and the elephants, Oma”. I was pretty touched, and thought we had a pretty good intro to some good music.

What was your first introduction to classical music? What are your favorite classical compositions? How would you introduce them to a three year old?

30 thoughts on “Intro to the Classics”

  1. Bugs Bunny / Warner Brothers cartoons was my introduction to classical music. There was a few classical records in mom and dads LP’s but I don’t recall them ever being played.
    Scheherazade is still a favorite…

    You made good choices! Well done!

    Liked by 4 people

      1. How doooo!

        Welcome to my shop
        Let me cut your mop
        Let me shave your crop!
        Daintily! Daint-til-ly!

        Hey yoooou!
        Don’t look so perplexed
        Why must you be next
        Can’t you see you’re next?
        Yes, you’re next!
        Yoou’re so next!

        How about a nice close shave
        Teach your whiskers to behave
        Lots of lather lots of soap
        Please hold still don’t be a dope
        Now we’re ready for the scrapin’
        There’s no use to try escapin’
        Yell and scream and rant and rave
        There’s no use you need a shaave!

        Ooh ouch ouch ooh ouch ooh ooh ouch!

        There, you’re nice and clean!
        Aldough your face looks like it might have gone through a ma-chine!

        … Classic! How can you not love that!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. It is interesting how that came about. Then I hear Mel Blanc singing opera in all his various voices. Some people are just so gifted and funny.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Rise and Sing Along, Baboons,

    My early music exposure is similar to what was already mentioned. Our family also had a Peter and the Wolf album with interesting animal sounds. Since our parents were not prone to spend money on such fripperies, I wonder if those Peter and the Wolf records were some kind of give-away premium. It was so much fun to howl and trumpet with that music.

    The other source of classical music was our local “college church” and college that had an active music department replete with some very particular town characters. The church would feature Bach and other classical oratorios from the choir, accompanied by a beautiful pipe organ that I loved. I would listen to the organist practice at times. Her practice time was the best because that was when she played her classical favorites rather than hymns. We children loved to imitate Alice Kruse’s watery soprano voice which we found hysterically funny. Our neighbor was the Chair of the Vocal Music department. He had a high tenor voice we could hear all the way down the street when he practiced.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. She was also our neighbor and she had a small organ in the living room, but she would practice at the church. It was the EUB (Evangelical United Brethren church and college in town. They became part of the Methodist Church) where our family belonged and attended. I found out when she practiced and just hung out there.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. As soon as I can remember, Mom had a classical radio station on in the morning, at the very least. So I had it all around me, but didn’t know pieces by name until I had piano lessons, or saw the ones she was working on from a book called 59 Piano Solos You Like to Play. I do remember that she played Chopin’s Prelude #20 (slow and kind of sad-sounding) at bedtime some nights.

    We eventually had albums, and Peter and the Wolf was one of them, with Leonard Bernstein narrating. Well done, Renee!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Be peter and the wolf with Leonard Bernstein was among the first
    We had a rusty in orchestraville album that was a favorite but I was a musicals guy. I remember hours as bd hours of bouncing in the basrr Ed kent couch and playing my fair lady and South Pacific and flower drum song, west side story the king and i and 15 or 20 others. The classics didn’t have the punchline I needed, bach cello concertos, pictures at an exhibition, ravel, Vivaldi, and my true favorite is the guy who wrote the slow simple relaxation mode stuff eric satie.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The WB cartoons and the movie Fantasia, of course. And like many of you, we had the Peter and the Wolf album with Leonard Bernstein. My dad subscribed the Reader’s Digest and we had a 12 album set of music through that. Each album concentrated on a different genre of music – American folk songs, children’s songs, opera, piano classics, etc. My favorite album had “Victory at Sea” on one side, can’t remember the flip side. I played that over and over as loud as possible. Another favorite from that collection was “Grand Canyon Suite”. I don’t remember if “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” was part of that collection or if it was a separate album but I do remember listening to it quite a bit.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I was not exposed to classical music at home. My parents listened to easy listening and pop music on the radio, and whatever records we had were mainly Irish folk.

      My first exposure to “classical” music was during my piano lessons. Perhaps because I played most of it so poorly, I never thought of it as “classical,” in fact, you could just barely call it music. I did learn to play the Blue Danube Waltz and Radetzky March well enough to perform them at our annual student recitals. It wasn’t until I started babysitting, and had access to the record collections of other families, that I began to appreciate music that wasn’t played at my home. One family had an extensive collection of opera recordings, and that’s when I discovered Jussi Björling and Maria Callas. One thing leads to another, by the time I left home at eighteen, I was ready to explore all kinds of music.

      Like most everything else in my life, my exposure to classical music has been haphazard, sporadic, and pretty informal. I don’t have a favorite piece of music or composer, and what I choose to listen to depends on the mood I’m in.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. My father sang Brahm’s Lullaby to me, from one of the symphonies, with made up words about how everyone from my 3rd cousins to the milkman loved me.

    Liked by 3 people

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