For a long time Philo was obsessed with Yiddish folk and theater music. I could not convince him to listen to anything else. (My own fault, I admit.)
Today it was Ravel’s Bolero. Yup, my almost-three-year-old sat through it twice in one sitting. Don’t get me wrong; I adore the piece, but I believe there are many adults who would rather drink their own bath water than sit through it once. (Their problem.)
But twice! Twice, and he was riveted, although disappointed with the sparing use of the bass drum.
I sure do like bass drum, dad!
(Did I mention he’s not three yet?)
Philo’s interest in orchestral music has skyrocketed since we took him to see a puppet theater version of The Nutcracker back in D.C. Thanksgiving weekend. True, he needed to be removed from the theater in tears, along with several other two-year-olds (you know… Mouse King), but the experience made a deep impression on him. He frequently dances around to no music, and insists that he’s a scary puppet, and that one of us has to be the Nutcracker.
I don’t own a recording of The Nutcracker, but a few weeks ago I had an idea. “Hey Philo”, I announced, “Wanna hear some puppet music?” His eyes lit up. I put on Petrouchka , and he danced around, and acted out every character change in the music (and of course there are dozens). On this particular recording, The Rite of Spring follows, and he enjoyed that with a mixture of fear and fascination. (He did finally start freaking out a little near the very end, and I had to turn it off.)
I’ve since discovered that just about anything lively and orchestral works for Philo as puppet music, even if there’s no bass drum. (I was asked to turn off the Ravel Piano Trio — sigh.) Holst’s The Planets was a big hit, and if you have any doubt that I’m a sick, sick individual, I’ll mention that we also listened to Var�se’s Arcana, which follows on that particular recording. He actually didn’t mind it, which I think is great.
Here’s a partial Philo’s Thumbs-up list, based on lots of random trial-and-error:
- Bernard Herrmann, North By Northwest Overture
- Prokofiev, Classical Symphony
- John Adams, “Wild Nights!” section of Harmonium (and the preceding wind-up)
- Stravinsky, Dumbarton Oaks Concerto (despite the lack of bass drum)