Grade 5 – Discovering Beethoven and His Works (Part 1)

I wish I could hear Beethoven for the very first time again.


This week I’m breaking off a little from routine to teach my students about a classical composer that they should know. I started off showing them a video that explains briefly about the life of Beethoven. As we go along watching the video, I prompt the students about what the narrator said in the video. They were really attentive as they could answer my questions. I also had a short discussion about Beethoven as a person. I told them that knowing these information will be useful perform the activities that I have prepared for them.

After showing the video, I taught them to sing Ode to Joy with very interesting lyrics in it.

I liked the lyrics that was created with this famous Symphony No.9. Usually people only can sing the song by humming or using nonsense syllables (like ‘la’) to present the song but this lyric arrangement really…

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Guess Who’s Now Really Famous

Concerto Infinito

George Szell is rarely seen on video. Only a few of his concerts are preserved on camera, and he was generally less prolific in his recording output than others. Nevertheless, he did allow himself to be featured in a television special while at the helm of The Cleveland Orchestra. In this clip, he coaches three apprentice conductors.

One of them is a star. Can you guess who?

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Modulation: One-Two-Five-One

A Theory of Music

In the hierarchy of harmonic function, everything begins and ends with the tonic. It takes a certain amount of deliberate intention to set things in motion, namely in deciding how far away that first leap from the tonic will be, but there are decidedly fewer decisions to be made after that. In the previous post and in the introduction to secondary dominants, I mentioned how everything moves toward and away from the tonic at all times. That’s a pretty foggy assessment, and there are always exceptions, but I think it’s a statement worthy of further discussion. The image below illustrates a I-ii-V7-I progression as it appears in the context of the circle of fifths.

I ii V7 I circle

Looking at the circle of fifths should make it fairly obvious that pitches are not really as close to one another as we’re led to believe, like when we look at the notes on a piano…

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My Bach Pilgrimage – What A Difference …


Nach Dir, Herr, Verlanget Mich (BWV 150)
Christ lag in Todesbanden (BWV 4)
Gott ist mein König (BWV 71)
Lobe Den Herrn, Meine Seele (BWV 143)

A year or so makes. After the emotional intensity of the cantatas written in Mulhausen we have a cantatas written in 1708 that seem to take a huge leap forward.

I have to admit that these cantatas as a whole didn’t grab me as much as those from 1707. Personally they didn’t have the emotional impact or scale – despite larger forces – of the cantatas of the previous year but there is a sense of experimentation.

It’s worth noting that these were the first orchestral works Bach wrote. The concerti that we all love came later and that there remains some debate as to the actual date of some of these early cantatas. Both Nach Dir, Herr, Verlanget Mich (BWV 150) and

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