I’m now in the third part of my series about a playlist which I created for one of my violin students who came to me never having listened to classical music. Part one is available here, and part two is here.
7. Franz Schubert’s Der Erlkönig Op. 1, D 328
I wanted to introduce my student to the operatic style of singing. But opera can be an acquired taste. I didn’t learn to like it until I got to college and became friends with several sopranos. I decided that Der Erlkönig would be an ideal gateway for my student to learn about operatic singing. It’s only about four minutes long, so it’s easily digestible. Plus, it has a compelling story about a father, his son, and the evil elf king who kills the boy right in his father’s arms.
8. John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine
At this point in the playlist, my student had listened to music mostly from the romantic, classical, and Baroque periods of music. I wanted to move her towards various styles of contemporary classical music. John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine is probably one the most easily approachable works from contemporary style known as minimalism.This piece is loud, boisterous, and includes an intriguing array of percussion instruments. I love this particular video because it shows many of the different instruments in the orchestra up close, and I wanted my student to become familiar with instruments outside of the string family.
9. Igor Stravinsky’s “Infernal Dance” from The Firebird Suite
As with the John Adams piece, I wanted to continue familiarizing my student with contemporary classical music. But this time, I wanted to drive her towards the Russian composers of the early 20th century. The Firebird Suite was the first music by Stravinsky that I had played or even heard, back when I was in youth orchestra. I was about the same age as my student when I fell in love with this work, so I hope it would appeal to her as well. I was fiendishly delighted when my student told me that the explosive first chord of this piece startled her. I remember having the same experience. That chord really is scary the first time you hear it.
Image of Der Erlkönig manuscript via Wikimedia Commons