Director’s News

“Doc Talk”/Class Lesson 4/23/2020

“DOC TALK”/CLASS LESSON – Thursday, April 23, 2020





Please send me your “musical hours” tomorrow (Friday, April 24th).  I am so grateful that MOST of you were able to connect with me during this difficult time!

You can email me or text me (see addresses in header).



Monday:  Musical Humor—Richard Strauss’ “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks”

Tuesday:  Active Listening vs. Passive Listening—Chopin’s Ballade #1 in g minor, op. 23”

Wednesday:  Finding your “break-through” moment; Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony No. 3


TODAY’S LESSON: “My Favorite Things”

I want you to be thinking about something…

IF we are not able to go back to school this spring, I am going to ask you to do a small project for your “final exam.”  The project is going to be to choose a “classical music” composer and at least 5 of his/her works to study.  Then write me a brief document (2-3 pages max.) summarizing what you learned and WHY you selected the composer and the works.

Don’t freak out!

I want this to be enjoyable for you… think of it as a treasure hunt!

Yes, if you would rather write about a famous “jazz” artist, I’m fine with that…

If you have an alternative idea, just let me know…

To get you thinking about this, I have decided to compile a list of some of my “favorite” works from the following “major-league” composers.  Please know that I did not spend a great deal of time compiling this list and am quite certain that there are many works that I left off that should have been included.  However, I wanted to give you a healthy start…to get the ball rolling…

Note:  The following list of composers are primarily “orchestral” composers…  I realize that there are some major composers who wrote mainly for opera/voices and wind-band that I haven’t included.  I am purposely submerging you in orchestral music for the following reasons:

-band instruments such as woodwinds, brass, and percussion are included.

-compared to the orchestral repertoire, the wind-band’s repertoire is very small.  If the orchestral repertoire is the world’s “oceans;” the wind-band’s repertoire would be the world’s “lakes.”

-to write for a few voices/instruments is a wonderful skill…to write for a many voices/instruments adds a whole new dimension!


BAROQUE PERIOD (1600-1750)

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)

The Four Seasons – Spring


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

The Well-Tempered Clavier

Brandenburg Concertos

The Art of the Fugue


George F. Handel (1685-1759)

The Messiah (oratorio)

The Royal Fireworks Music

The Water Music



Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

Symphony No. 94 (“The Surprise Symphony”)


Wolfgang Mozart (1756-91)

Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Movt. 1

Overture to the “Marriage of Figaro”

Symphony No. 40 in g minor, movt. 1

Symphony No. 41 in C major, movt. 4

Ave Verum Corpus

Clarinet Concerto



Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Symphony No. 3 in Eb major (“Eroica”)

Symphony No. 5 in c minor

Symphony No. 6 in F major

Symphony No. 7, movt. 2


Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1968)

William Tell Overture

The Barber of Seville Overture

La Gazza Ladra Overture


Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Symphony No. 5, movt. 1

The “Unfinished Symphony,” movt. 1

The “Erlkonig”


Hector Berlioz (1803-69)

Symphony Fantastique

The Roman Carnival Overture

Beatrice and Benedict Overture

Harold in Italy (his second symphony featuring a solo viola)


Felix Mendelssohn (1809-47)

Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Symphony No. 3 (“The Scottish”)

Symphony No. 4 (“The Italian”)

“Fingal’s Cave” Overture

Violin Concerto in e minor


Fryderyk Chopin (1810-49)

Ballade in g minor, op. 23

Piano Concerto No. 1, movt. 1


Robert Schumann (1810-56)


Symphony No. 3 “The Rhenish”



Franz Liszt (1811-86)

Les Preludes

The Hungarian Rhapsodies


Richard Wagner (1813-83)

Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral

Overture to “Tristan and Isolde”

Overture to “Die Meistersinger”


Bedrich Smetana (1824-84)

“The Moldau” from “My Fatherland”

Overture to “The Bartered Bride”


Anton Bruckner (1824-96)

Symphony No.4, movt. 1

Symphony No. 8


Johannes Brahms (1833-97)

Academic Festival Overture

Symphony No 1, movt. 4


Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)

Symphony No. 3 (“Organ”), finale

Carnival of the Animals

Danse Macabre


Georges Bizet (1838-75)



Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881)

Pictures at an Exhibition

Night on Bald Mountain


Peter I. Tchaikovsky (1840-93)

Overture to “Romeo & Juliet”

Overture 1812

March Slav

Capricco Italien

Symphony No. 4, movt. 4

Symphony No. 6, movt. 3

The Nutcracker

Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bb, movt. 1

Violin Concerto


Anton Dvorak (1841-1904)

Carnival Overture

Symphony No. 8 in G Major

Symphony No. 9 in e minor (“New World”)

Slavonic Dances

Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

Piano Concerto in a minor, movt. 1

Peer Gynt Suite


Nicholai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)


Capriccio Espagnole

Procession of the Nobles

Polonaise (“from a Christmas Night”)

Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

Enigma Variations


Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)

Symphony No. 2, finale

Symphony No. 4, movt. 1

Symphony No. 6, movt. 1

Symphony No. 7, movt. 1



Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

The Sunken Cathedral


Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

Also Sprach Zarathustra, beginning “sunrise”

Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks

Ein Heldenleben


Paul Dukas (1865-1935)

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice


Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)



Erik Satie (1866-1925)



Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

English Folk Song Suite

Tuba ConcertoJ

Fantasia on “Greensleeves”


Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

The Planets

Military Suite No. 1 in Eb

Military Suite No. 2 in F



Charles Ives (1874-1954)

Variations on “America”

Country Band March

Symphony No. 2, finale


Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)


Pavane for a Dead Infanta


Bela Bartok (1881-1945)

Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste


Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)

The Firebird Suite


The Rite of Spring


Sergey Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Lieutenant Kije Suite


Darius Milhaud (1892-1974)

Suite Francaise (for wind band)


Carl Orff (1895-1982)

Carmina Burana


Paul Hindemith (1895-1963)

Symphonic Metamorphosis on a Themes by Weber


George Gershwin (1898-1937)

Rhapsody in Blue

An American in Paris

Second Prelude


Aaron Copland (1900-90)

Appalachian Spring

El Salon Mexico

Outdoor Overture

Lincoln Portrait

Fanfare for the Common Man


Dmitri Shostakovitch (1906-75)

Symphony No. 5, movt. 4

Symphony No. 10

Festive Overture


Samuel Barber (1910-81)

Adagio for Strings


Leonard Bernstein (1918-90)

Overture to Candide

West Side Story



Start “browsing” some of these works and see what you like.  “Browse” the web for other works…  do some reading…  ACTIVELY listen to the works that you enjoy—and be sure to see if you can read a score as well!



Enjoy this!  I’ll give you the answers on Monday


  1. This romantic-era composer suffered from mental illness late in his life and was committed to a mental hospital after jumping into the Rhine River.  He also permanently injured his hand by practicing piano with a device to try to make his little finger (pinky) stronger and more independent.


  1. This Czech composer was fascinated by trains and visited different Prague railway stations almost every day in his later years.  He lived in the United States for one year—a few months in the state of Iowa where he wrote part of the “New World Symphony.”


  1. This German composer appeared on the cover of TIME magazine in 1927 and 1938.  He was one of the few composers who actually stayed in Germany during WWII.  He wrote the famous music that is sounded at the beginning of the movie “2001:  A Space Odyssey.”


  1. This early-romantic composer was an art enthusiast and would frequently paint watercolor pictures.  He had an exceptional memory:  A friend of the composer lost the only manuscript/copy of the “Overture to a Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  Instead of panicking, the composer simply rewrote the entire piece by memory.


  1. This French composer was a member of the astronomical society of France and even had his own personalized telescope.  In the finale of his third symphony, he includes the organ—hence the work is known as the “Organ Symphony.”


  1. This German composer bridged the classical and romantic music eras.  He was so meticulous that he would count out 60 coffee beans each time he had a cup.  He suffered from stomach ailments throughout his life, in addition to deafness.


  1. This romantic-era composer was buried with a small urn of polish soil.  He would frequently appear in public only if he was wearing gloves to protect his hands.


  1. This German composer was given the nickname “little mushroom” by his friends due to his height.  He wrote over 600 lieder (German song).


  1. This classical-era composer once cut off the pigtails of a fellow choir member as a practical joke.  He also wrote a symphony in which the players left the stage one-by-one so that by the end of the piece, only one musician was playing.  About a week after his death, his body was dug up and his head was kidnapped!  This was because the kidnappers were interested in studying the brain of geniuses.  After people complained, the kidnappers returned a fake skull in its place.  The real skull was not united with the body until 1954, and now his tomb has 2 skulls.


  1. This baroque-era composer fathered over 20 children and eventually went blind near the end of his life.  He was fond of drinking beer while playing the organ and was once reprimanded by the pastor of a church to “remove his glass before church services because it disturbed the ladies.”  He was also fond of coffee, drinking 3-4 cups a day.  He even wrote a piece entitled “Coffee Cantata” about a woman trying to kick her coffee habit.


  1. This classical-era composer wrote the overture to “Don Giovanni” on the morning of the opera’s premiere while suffering from a massive hangover (after staying up all night drinking!).  He was also fond of making cat sounds when he was bored!


  1. This baroque-era composer suffered from acute bronchial asthma throughout his life.  He wrote over 600 concertos and was nicknamed the “Red Priest” because he took holy orders when he was 25 years old.


  1. This baroque-era composer was known to order enough dinner for three people if he was dining out.  He wrote the “Messiah” in 3 weeks!  He wrote a work for the king of England to be played on a boat on the Thames river (to serenade the king and his party on another boat) that has come to be known as the “The Water Music.”


  1. This romantic-era composer visited his favorite pub, the “Red Hedgehog Tavern” in Vienna, almost every day.  In later life, he resembled Santa Claus.  He was also in love with Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann’s wife.


  1. This Austrian composer wrote symphonies that included the ringing of cowbells.  For 9 months out of the year, he served as conductor of the Vienna opera.  Some of his 9 completed symphonies are 1.5 hours in length!


  1. This prolific composer of Italian operas once boasted that he could set a laundry list to music!  However, after writing “William Tell” in the middle of his life, he ceased writing music did not write a single work for the remainder of his life!


  1. This American 20th-century composer earned his living as a successful insurance salesman.  He wrote an orchestral work that was later transcribed for wind-band entitled “Variations on America (“My country tis of thee…”).


  1. This Russian romantic-era composer had the habit of holding is chin with his left hand while conducting.  This was because he apparently believed that his head would fall off!  He died after drinking a glass of un-boiled water during a cholera epidemic.  No one really knows whether this was an accident or whether the composer did this on purpose to commit suicide.


  1. This German romantic-era composer enjoyed crossdressing—he particularly liked to wear women’s underwear!  He also had a dog who would sit near the piano while he was composing.  When the composer would play something that didn’t quite work, the dog would growl.


  1. This Russian 20th century composer was a heavy chain-smoker, probably because he lived in fear most of his life worried that the “authorities” would ban his music and throw him and his family in jail.  He redeemed his name with the success of his “Fifth Symphony” and actually lived a fairly comfortable life, despite his worries.




Dr. Jerry Markoch, Director of Bands

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