Music children should listen to: Classic FM presenters have their say

4 June 2014, 14:47 | Updated: 6 January 2017, 14:45

Classic FM presenters have joined the debate, started by Nicola Benedetti, over what classical music children should be encouraged to listen to

The violinist Nicola Benedetti has sparked a fascinating debate on this website by proposing a list of music every child should hear.

Our listeners took to the comments section of that page to suggest their own pieces, from Für Elise to Finlandia. Others have questioned the purpose of such lists.

Inevitably, the debate has spilled over from the website into the studio, where Classic FM presenters have been suggesting pieces they think children ought to be encouraged to listen to. What do you think of their choices? Let us know in the comments section below...

Alex James
Gioachino Rossini: Overture, William Tell
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake
"The boys go nuts to Rossini's William Tell Overture - air trumpets, the works. My girls like Tchaikovsky - they love it when I sing the theme from Swan Lake and twirl them around. Kids love anything with a good tune, basically. Grieg, Saint Saens, Prokofiev all get a big thumbs up from the jam eaters."

Margherita Taylor
The music in Walt Disney's Fantasia
OK I know it’s not one piece of music but, as a child, you’re learning about Bach, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Beethoven, Schubert, Mussorgsky, classical and jazz before you even realize it’s a lesson. As an end of term film or even for a pre-school child watching with a parent/ grandparent or as a youngster catching it on the big screen during a re-release what a joy. As a tool to open a child’s eyes and ears to the joy, power and wonder of music I think Fantasia is a great one.'  

Bill Overton
Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 5 
“Why? Because you hear it referenced on at least three (to my knowledge) pop hits – at the end of Beach Baby by First Class, at the start of Since Yesterday by Strawberry Switchblade and on Gorillaz’ On Melancholy Hill , reinforcing the fact that classical is as ‘pop’ now as it was 100 years ago.”

Jane Jones

Edvard Grieg: Peer Gynt Suites 
“It's got the lot: thrills and spills, shortish pieces from either of the Suites, moments of quiet reflective music – and a moral to the tale.’”

Catherine Bott
J.S. Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D minor 
"What a glorious explosion of sound and counterpoint on the organ!" 

John Suchet
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5

“Wow, that’s a tough one… not. When one of my boys heard it in a friend’s car, when he was 8 or 9, he said: ‘Blimey, daddy, he was the headbanger of his day.’”

John Brunning
Sergei Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf
“Start accessible and gradually see where it goes.”

Lucy Coward

Gustav Holst: The Planets 

“Because each piece tells a complete story - as a child I loved imagining the images behind the music; the War, the Peace, the look and character of the Magician and the Mystic. The suite taught me that music can help you to paint your own pictures.”

Nicholas Owen

Sousa: The Liberty Bell
 (Monty Python theme)
“Any of the Sousa marches are fantastic and really get you going.”

Charlotte Green

Benjamin Britten: The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
“The first classical music that I heard and I was completely hooked because of the sound.”

Anne-Marie Minhall
Joaquin Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez
“I remember hearing this on the radio when I was a child and I’d never heard anything quite like it. I just loved where the music took me.”