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School Days

The energy behind the start of a new school year inspires a week dedicated to children's songs and young composers and performers.

Program 1

"The rhythm of going to school in the fall is built into all of us."  In between songs, Bill reads delightful little recollections of school days.  At the tender age of eight, Mozart wrote 43 pieces in six weeks, of which we hear three country dances.  Halfway to nine, he wrote his first symphony, also heard here. 

Composers Bernstein and Ravel were so fond of children that they composed musical devotions for them.  Bernstein shares pieces written for his floppy-eared dog, Mippy, and Ravel's "Mother Goose" was to accompany the fairy tales he told his friends' daughters. 

School Days (excerpt)
Pete Fountain & The Kings of Dixieland
Crownstar Records

Mozart: 3 Kontretänze: KV 33b, KV 15h & KV 15x
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ens.
Phil 586502
2:55, 2:12

Mozart: Symphony No. 1 in E-flat Major, KV 16
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Marriner
Phil 568602

Bernstein: Elegy for Mippy II
Alessi, trb.
Cala 508

Bernstein: “Who am I?” fr. Peter Pan
Alexander, s.; Crone, p.
Etcetera 1037

Bernstein: Waltz for Mippy III
Deck, tba.; Lamb, p.
Cala 508

Ravel: Mother Goose
Pittsburg Symphony Orch/Previn
Phil 400016

Program 2

"Sublime beauty is revealed truth."  Words of George Jellinek are in response to Schumann's set of piano pieces titled "Scenes of Childhood," which he wrote for his children.  Ives' sonata, "Children's Day at the Camp Meeting" tries to potray the brevity of a child's interest.  A break from European air, one can sense traces of Americana within the piece. 

Elgar, also a young composer, composed a piece accompanying a play written by his teenage siblings.  The play featured an untained world where adults lest they repented their stringent ways.  Young musicians end with an adorable critique of Beethoven's last movement of his third symphony. 

Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op. 15
Firkusny, p.
EMI 66068

Ives: Violin Sonata No. 4, Children’s Day at the Camp Meeting
Meyers, v.; Schub, p.
RCA 68114

Elgar: The Wand of Youth Suite No. 1, Op. 1a
Ulster Orch/Thomson
Chan 8318

Program 3

The program starts with a whimsically flowing "dream" as Elgar digs into layers of the unconscious, but shifts gears with 16-year-old Mendelssohn's octet, in which the vigor of his youth shines through the rapid bow strokes. 

We move onto two pieces by modern-day prodigy Jay Greenberg, born 1991, including a symphony written at age 14.  The Chicago Symphony Orchestra finishes off with the teenage Mendelssohn's interpretation of a Shakespeare classic.


Elgar: Dream Children, Op. 43
Halle Orchestra/Elder
Halle 7509

Mendelssohn: Octet, Op. 20, II & IV
Guarneri & Orion Quartets
Arab 6714
4:31, 6:06

Greenberg: Quintet for Strings, II
Julliard SQ; Adkins, vla.
Sony 681804

Greenburg: Symphony No. 5, II & IV
Sony 681804

Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Overture & Scherzo (excerpt)
Universal 344202
11:44, 3:12

Program 4

This section focuses on young performers, beginning with a teenage Yehudi Menuhin, a prodigy violinist.  Einstein once exclaimed upon meeting him, "Now, I know there's a God in heaven."  We also hear a 1932 recording of a collaboration with his Romani teacher, Enesco.  A few more early 20th century recordings of pre-teen musicians ensue.

Bill introduces "beginner" songs young musicians undertake in order to grasp musical styles and overcome technical difficulties, most famously Clementi on the piano and Paganini on the violin.  In the last piece, Chicago Children's Choir joins Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Mahler's Symphony No. 3.




de Falla, arr. Kreisler: Danse Espagnole fr. La Vida Breve
Menuhin, v.; Balsam, p.
Biddulph 46

Bach: Concerto for Two Violins in d minor, BWV 1043
Paris Symphony Orchestra/Monteux; Enesco & Menuhin, v.
EMI 67101

Chopin: Waltz in a minor, Op 32, No. 2
de Laroccha, p.
Vai 1001

Berman: Mazurka
Berman, p.
Columbia/Mel 37

Clementi: Sonatina No. 1 in C Major, Op. 36
Chun, p.
Centaur 2439

Paganini: Theme from “Witches Dance”
Nadien, v.
Suzuki Instructional CD
:36, :39

Paganini: Caprice in g minor, Op. 1 No. 6
Rabin, v.
Sony 60894

Paganini: Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, III
Midori Goto, v.
Phil 420943

Mahler: Symphony No. 3, V
CSO/Haitink; DeYoung, ms.
CSO 901701

Program 5

It was important for composers to pass on their knowledge to a fresh generation of students through simpler yet challenging pieces.  In this case, Clementi wrote sonatinas and Chopin wrote etudes.  Bartok played the teacher role very seriously, and composed in a way that taught harmonic and technical language.  He used the violin to pass down Hungarian folk music, encouraging students to compose their own. 

Fellow Hungarian Dohnanyi spins intricate variations on a simple nursery song, and Grofe's "Huckleberry Finn" is dedicated to the rebellious students who played hooky in school.

Clementi: Sonatina No. 4 in F Major, Op. 36
Chun, p.
Centaur 2439

Chopin: Etudes: Op. 10 No. 3, Op. 25 No. 5, Op. 10 No. 12 & Op. 25 No. 1
Pollini, p.
DG 413794

Bartók: Transylvanian Dance for Two Violins
Muzsikás and Márta Sebestyén, vlns.
Fono 571439

Bartók: Mikrokosmos, Bk. I (excerpts)
Jandó, p.
Naxos 8557821

Dohnányi: Variations on a Nursery Song, Op. 25
Royal Phil/Boult; Dohnányi, p.
Decca 458361

Grofé: Huckleberry Finn fr. Mississippi Suite
Eastman-Rochester Orch/Hanson
Mercury 434355


The Exploring Music streaming website is supported by Mr. & Mrs. William Gardner Brown and the Richard P. and Susan Kiphart Family.  
You have opened up the world of Classical Music to me, where previously, it seemed too complicated.
Steffen Demeter
This is simply one of the very best radio programmes in the medium!...The study of the people, the times, and the events that inform the music we otherwise enjoy and even, heaven forbid, take for granted, brings the entire world of the music and the composer to life.
Walther Davies
There isn't a program you broadcast on Exploring Music" that isn't of interest. I find them all engaging. It is a combination of variety of subject, intellectual curiosity and your obvious enthusiasm which characterize your satisfying programs.
Michael Sanders
It’s a great way to re-engage myself with consciousness before heading off to work.
I Love this program! I am in 7th grade and I am the complete opposite of the other kids. I am 4th chair in the orchestra and I love to read. But most of all, I LOVE classical music!
Claudia Wertz
Your show has helped open my mind and heart to this world of music, and every show I hear confirms my place in music and gives me new ideas for where I'd like to go with it in the future….I grew up with classical music as a child and always held it in my heart, but I didn't have the confidence to be a good student (or a good violinist.)
Christine Anderson
Listening to you is almost interactive.You invite us in with so many well modulated dramatic and informative comments, enticing, enthusiastic interpretations, and coherent, beautiful presentations. It's a privilege to follow you into the musical space you create.
Sally Rosenbaum
I just love this program. It is soothing and comfortable at the end of the day. I find his comments interesting, but they aren't so dragged out that there is very little music. The balance of both is just right.
Jean Quay
Newsletters Thank You!