Composer Study: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
We recently spent two months focusing on the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The core of our composer study this first “introductory” year has been the Classical Kids CDs, and since there were two on Mozart I just decided to spend a little extra time on him. (Or at least that made a nice excuse for enjoying my favorite composer for a little longer.) I also wanted the boys to become familiar with the music from The Magic Flute in preparation for a children’s theater presentation by the LA Opera called The Magic Dream (which featured much of the opera’s music). Although we also listened to plenty of Mozart’s other creations, most of our time was spent with The Magic Flute.
It would be easy to listen to Mozart for at least a week without repeating any music, but I kept our selection limited. Here’s what was on our composer playlist:
- Mozart’s Magic Fantasy from Classical Kids
- Mozart’s Magnificent Voyage from Classical Kids
- “La De Da Sonata” (Sonata in C) from Beethoven’s Wig: Sing-Along Piano Classics
- “Mozart Makes Kids Smart” (Rondo Alla Turca) from Beethoven’s Wig: Sing-Along Piano Classics
- “Please Don’t Play Your Violin at Night” (Eine Kleine Nachtmusik) from Beethoven’s Wig: Sing Along Symphonies
- Classics for Kids episodes on Mozart (Unfortunately, the episode on The Magic Flute is only available to listen to online right now and cannot be downloaded as a podcast.)
- The Story of Mozart in Words and Music
- “Mozart: The Story of a Little Boy and his Sister who Gave Concerts” from Stories of Great Composers for Children by Thomas Tapper (free audiobook)
Because my children are still so young, one of their favorite ways of learning about classical music is watching Little Einsteins. There are several episodes that feature music by Mozart:
- “Whale Tale” and “Duck, Duck, June“(both featuring the Rondo from Horn Concert No. 2 in in E-flat Major, K. 417; “Whale Tale” also plays the Rondo from Horn Concerto No. 4 in F)
- “Birthday Balloons” and “The Mouse and the Moon” (both featuring Eine Kleine Nachtmusik)
- “Annie’s Love Song” and “Music Monsters” (both featuring Piano Concerto No. 21)
- “Annie and the Little Toy Plane” and “The Wild Goose Chase” (both featuring Symphony No. 40)
The Magic Flute is really a wonderful way to introduce children to opera. The characters and other elements of the story capture their imaginations, and the productions are often colorful and visually intriguing. I was amazed at how fascinated Ian was by YouTube videos of various performances of The Magic Flute. He especially enjoyed one by the Opéra National de Paris that showed the complete opera. (He sat watching for an hour!) We also checked out a DVD from the library and watched the whole opera in segments as we folded laundry together.
Books and Other Reading
For some biographical information we read Mozart by Ann Rachlin from the Famous Children series. Both boys really enjoyed The Magic Flute: An Opera by Mozart adapted by Kyra Teis, which tells the story just like a fairy tale book. The author also has some interesting information on her website.
If you and your children enjoy The Magic Flute check out the HUGE study guide from Boston Lyric Opera. Most of it was way over my preschoolers’ heads (though they did enjoy the maze on page 65), but I’m sure we’ll come back to it in the future when Mozart pops up again in the Ambleside Online composer study schedule. I also found many wonderful ideas for composer study on Mozart that we’ll use when the kids get a bit older here.