December - Student Page

Included below: Composers, The Symphony, Christmas Music, Angela Hewitt

November Issue
- student page

December Teachers Guide

Kids' Corner - with honorable mention pieces from contest
Past Issues

Composers of the Month

Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler:
Both composers were known for their symphonies and
lived at the end of the Romantic Period.

Anton Bruckner
Symphony No. 4:


Symphony No. 5:


Symphony No. 8:


What do you notice about these symphonies as you listen to them? Bruckner is known for writing massive chords with lots of instruments and great brass parts.


Gustav Mahler

Symphony No. 1


Symphony No. 5 - this has a great trumpet solo at the beginning.



Mahler was also known for his vocal music. Das Lied Von Der Erde (Song of the Earth) is a work for 2 singers and an orchestra.



The Symphony

Mahler and Bruckner wrote very different types of symphonies from earlier composers. Listen to some different symphonies to hear how the music form changed over time. Notice how many instruments are used in different symphonies and which kinds. Later symphonies usually included many more instruments - especially more brass.

Haydn: Symphony No. 94 (Surprise Symphony) - This was written in 1791 and has some loud chords, supposedly to surprise and wake up sleepy listeners.



Mozart: Symphony No. 40 - this is one of Mozart's best known symphonies. It was written in 1788. Very close in time to when Haydn wrote the Surprise Symphony.



Mozart: Symphony No. 41 "The Jupiter" - also written in 1788. This was his last symphony.



Beethoven Symphony No. 5 - even non-musicians have heard this famous symphony with its familiar rhythm. It was written between 1804 and 1808. Does it sound fuller and more dramatic than the earlier symphonies of Haydn and Mozart?



Beethoven Symphony No. 9 - This is Beethoven's last symphony and includes the famous Ode to Joy chorus. It was one of the first major symphonies to use singers as well as an orchestra. It was finished in 1824.


Here is another version of it with a really big chorus!


Schubert - Unfinished Symphony No. 8 - this was started in 1822 but he only wrote 2 movements.


Schubert and Beethoven were transitional composers between the Classical and Romantic periods. Their early works sound closer to the music of Mozart and Haydn, but their later music went in different directions that led the way into the Romantic period.


Berlioz - Symphonie fantastique - This was written in the early part of the Romantic Period (1830) It sounds very different from earlier symphonies. The music tells a story and is very dramatic in places. Listen to a famous section around minute 38 of the recording.


Brahms: Symphony No. 4 - finished in 1885, this was his last symphony. It uses strings, flutes, clarinets, oboes, bassoons, contrabassoon, horns, trumpets, trombones, and timpani. It has some beautiful string melodies.



Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6: Pathetique - written in 1893. Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer. Does this symphony sound a little like other works by Tchaikovsky in places? (He also wrote The Nutcracker and other ballets)



Dvorak: Symphony No. 9, From the New World- Do you recognize the famous melody from the Largo movement? This work was written in 1893 while the composer was living in New York.

2nd Movement (Largo)


4th Movement (Allegro con fuoco) - very exciting music with lots of brass and strings!



Christmas Music Trivia

Fantasia on Christmas Carols


Hodie, A Christmas Cantata




Angela Hewitt:

Playing the Two-Part Invention in C major, No. 1 and talking about Bach:

Playing Clair de Lune


We'd love to hear from you!
Do you have any ideas or thoughts about any other practice tip we have published this year? Let us know how they worked for you. Were you able to solve a problem spot or learn a tricky passage?

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