My job as a piano teacher has given me many opportunities to work with children. For the most part, I always have a wonderful time with them. Children are born without knowing any rules and boundaries, and their imagination can be limitless. Sometimes when I feel tired of being a responsible adult, I wish I could be a child again. While in reality, I cannot go back in time, listening to some children-inspired music can help to recall my childhood adventures and friends. I hope the following five compositions with children-related themes can also take you back to your childhood wonderland.
Children’s Carnival, Op.25 (1894) by Amy March Beach (1867-1944)
Written by the American female composer Amy Beach, Children’s Carnival is a suite of six short pieces named after characters of early European music comedy pantomime. It begins with a fanfare-like promenade, followed by a lighthearted Columbine. The third piece is called Pantalon. In the comedy, Pantalon is Columbine’s father, characterized as an older man who always wears tight trousers and is always made fun of by other characters. Pierrot and Pierrette is the title of the fourth piece. These two characters, with whitened faces, usually wore white pantaloons and jackets with large buttons. Amy Beach had written a piece of delightful dance-like music for these two characters. The following piece is called Secret, which perhaps entails the secrets between Pierrot and Pierrette. Harlequin is the title of the last piece where the music displays his mischievous characteristic.
The Fantasy of Little C (2017) by Julie Kuok
The Fantasy of Little C is a set of ten piano pieces which form the story of a little boy named Little C. Julie Kuok, a well-known pianist and a famous piano instructor based in Hong Kong, wrote this suite for piano students at intermediate and advanced levels. Hong Kong is a melting pot between the east and the west, and the music of The Fantasy of Little C combines Western and Chinese compositional styles. Each piece has a descriptive title in both Chinese and English. The Chinese title of each work uses Chinese idioms starting with numbers 1 to 10 that connect all the pieces.
Adventures in a Perambulator (1914, rev. 1941) by John Alden Carpenter (1876-1951)
This is an orchestral suite written by American composer John Carpenter and was inspired by his daughter, Ginny. The program note reflects a baby’s perspective of the new world. It has six movements. The first movement, “En Voiture!” announces the adventures of a baby traveling in a carrier with her nurse after her second breakfast. She and her nurse meet “The Policeman,” listen to the music by “the Hurdy-Gurdy,” and pass by “The Lake.” She is excited by “The Dog.” In the nighttime, when she sleeps, she “Dreams” about the adventures she has every day.
Szesc Piosenek dziecinnych (Six Children’s Songs) by Witold Lutosławski (1913-1994)
Witold Lutosławski: 6 Piosenek Dziecinnych (6 Children’s Songs) (version for choir and chamber orchestra) (Antoni Szuszkiewicz, boy soprano; Polish National Forum of Music Boys’ Choir; Lutosławski Quartet; LutosAir Quintet; Wrocław Philharmonic Orchestra; Andrzej Kosendiak, cond.)
Polish composer and conductor Lutosławski was one of the most significant composers in Polish music history. His music is known for combining Polish folklore with contemporary writing styles. In addition to the Four Symphonies and Cello Concerto, (the best-known among his entire collection) this set of Six Children’s Songs is charming and worth listening to. Written in 1947 for voice and piano, it was later arranged for children’s choir and orchestra, as well as for mezzo-soprano and orchestra. Each piece has a descriptive title, and the music is fun and joyful, such as the third piece, Kitten, and the last piece, Bird Gossips.
Children’s Songs by Chick Corea (1941-2021)
If you are a jazz fan, you probably have heard of Chick Corea. Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea was a significant pioneer of jazz and jazz fusion who wrote and played jazz music throughout his career. However, his repertoire was not limited to jazz. The Children’s Songs is a set of twenty pieces written for the piano, (except the last one for violin, cello, and piano). Corea stated that he wanted “to convey simplicity as beauty, as represented in the Spirit of a child.” All Children’s Songs are short pieces with simple themes. Corea began writing these pieces in 1971 and completed them in 1980.
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