Yesterday, the BBC announced its Ten Pieces initiative, a list of ten works chosen to introduce children to the joys of classical music. The list itself should do the trick nicely, but that shouldn’t stop us from saying what we’d like to add to it. So here, the BBC Music Magazine team presents eight more pieces that have the power to inspire a generation.
Oliver Condy, editor
Mendelssohn: Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave)
Anyone who’s been to Fingal’s Cave in the Hebrides will appreciate the drama of Mendelssohn’s orchestral masterpiece. From its brooding opening to the sweeping, memorable main melody and triumphant climax – all thrillingly orchestrated – it contains much to excite young minds. And it’s only 10 minutes long…
Helen Wallace, consultant editor
Bach: Double Violin Concerto (Largo)
Bach gives us a musical conversation between two great friends. Together they are better than they could be alone, singing and sharing, exploring and exchanging these melodies and proving that slow, intimate music can be just as exciting as fast pieces for big forces.
Jeremy Pound, deputy editor
Tchaikovsky: Sixth Symphony
A controversial choice, maybe, but I’d like to add Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, the ‘Pathétique’. Few works can match it for showing the sheer range of emotions that can be displayed – and so powerfully – by an orchestra. It was one of the first works I got to know as a child and, for all the misery of its finale, it didn’t leave me scarred for life. Honest.
Rebecca Franks, reviews editor
Ravel: Mother Goose Suite
When I was learning the piano as a kid, one of my favourite things to do was play piano duets with my mum – I particularly remember Walter Carroll’s Scenes at a Farm. Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite would have been way beyond my ability, but it was written for two young children and shows just what the piano can do. Based on fairy tales, the five pieces are full of magical atmosphere and colourful effects.
Neil McKim, production editor
Britten: The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
I’d like to add Britten’s classic work for kids from 1946. It was played to us at junior school and it gave the class a great introduction to the break-down of a symphony orchestra, as the piece moved from complete orchestra to the variations played by the different sections of woodwind, strings, brass and percussion. I think everyone benefitted.
Rosie Pentreath, digital editor & staff writer
I would have to go for Allegri’s sublime Miserere. Twelve minutes of immersive sound emanating from refined choral voices is something every child should be exposed to and given the opportunity to quietly and personally ponder. And, however many times I listen to it, that high C from the solo soprano never fails to send shivers right through me.
Polly Bartlett, office assistant
Vivaldi: Four Seasons
I remember hearing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons as a child and it was one of the first times I realised more than just ‘notes’ can be portrayed by music. These are landscapes and all the emotions they evoke – in this case during Spring, Summer Autumn and Winter. I always found it interesting that Vivaldi decided to portray Summer with a storm – a complete contrast to the joy of ‘Spring’!
Jamie Maule, work experience
Chopin: Revolutionary Étude
I heard a recording of Chopin’s Revolutionary Étude at about 14 and was stunned by the power and the virtuosity – I had no idea a pianist could play such a piece! I’d never thought of classical music as being particularly impressive before then, but this piece blew me away and afterwards I trawled through my dad’s collection of classical CDs looking for more recordings of Chopin.
What would you include?