Classical Kids: A Playlist

By Casey Margerum

To the young ear, classical music can be tricky to figure out. A wordless concerto or a foreign language aria can feel impossible to understand, and lengthy runtimes can cause kids to squirm in their seats.

Our new Classical Kids playlist is the perfect place to start introducing children to the genre! It contains a little bit of everything—symphonic pieces, solo instrumental works, opera, art song, and choral pieces. It’s upbeat, fun, and bubbly, and all of the pieces convey a strong emotion or tell an easy-to-understand story.

Schubert tells of ill-fated trouts, Rimsky-Korsakov illustrates the frantic buzzing of bumblebees, Bernstein protests music outright, and Whitacre shares some extremely dramatic thoughts on cows.

As your children listen to this music, make it as interactive as possible. Encourage them to dance and sing along to the pieces – ask kids to make words up if it’s instrumental or in a foreign language.

They can draw a picture of what they think is happening in the music, or even write or tell you a story based on it. After they share their ideas, tell them the “real” story. Even if some details need to be left out, you can still describe the strong sisters gathering on Wagner’s mountaintop, Belcore’s hilarious boasting, and Juliette’s outburst of joy as she attends her first grand party.

Ask your kids what they like and don’t like, and find more music that suits their tastes. Sit down together and learn about the composers of their favorite pieces, about why they wrote them, about what instruments they used to illustrate their ideas. Encourage your kids’ curiosity, and allow yourself to be curious, too!

Listen on Spotify

Music for the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

When it comes to heavenly bodies, none has provided more musical inspiration than the moon. The most frequently celebrated element of the earth’s satellite is its light, an aspect captured by composers as diverse as Beethoven and Debussy.

Numerous selections evoke the calm of night, while others imagine fanciful travel to the moon, and the wonders that await there. The phases of the moon stir the musical imagination in some of these works, as do the places from where we see it.

Most striking about this list is the number of romantic songs, from opera arias and choruses, to lieder and vintage Americana. We’re pleased to offer this contemplative sampling to observe the anniversary of the adventurous lunar landing fifty years ago.

  1. Beethoven – “Moonlight” Sonata
  2. Daniel Elder – “Ballade to the Moon”
  3. Elgar – In Moonlight
  4. R. Strauss – Moonlight Music from “Capriccio”
  5. Otto Nicolai – Moon Chorus from “The Merry Wives of Windsor”
  6. Debussy – Claire de lune
  7. Stella Sung – Dance of the White Lotus under the Silver Moon
  8. Lu Wencheng – Autumn Moon on a Calm Lake
  9. Dvorak – “Song to the Moon,” from “Rusalka”
  10. Frank Bridge – “Moonlight,” from “The Sea”
  11. Offenbach – Overture from “Voyage to the Moon”
  12. Haydn – “What a Delightful World,” from “The World on the Moon”
  13. John Williams – “Over the Moon,” from “E.T.”
  14. Schubert – “An den Mond” (“To the Moon”)
  15. Joe Burke/Benny Davis – “Carolina Moon”
  16. Mili Balakirev – “The Crescent Moon”
  17. Richard Rodgers (arr. André Previn) – “Blue Moon”
  18. Eric Whitacre – “Goodnight Moon”
  19. J. Strauss, Jr. – “From Earth to Moon: Blue Danube Waltz,” from “2001: A Space Odyssey”
  20. Brahms – “The Moon Veils Its Face”
  21. William Walton – “Moonlight,” from “As You Like It”
  22. Nico Muhly – “Moondrunk,” from “Three Moon Songs”
  23. Alexandre Desplat – “New Moon,” from “The Twilight Trilogy”