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It’s Classic FM’s Arts and Kids Week, in association with the Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts. Tonight, Jane Jones celebrates with a concert inspired by the theme of music and young people.
Tonight's concert of music inspired by the theme of young people, begins with a brilliant new recording of Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture. It was composed during the summer of 1880 as a musical "thank you" to the University of Breslau, which had awarded Brahms with an honorary doctorate the previous year.
Benjamin Britten's The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra was written in 1946 for an educational documentary film about the instruments of the orchestra. For his musical inspiration, Britten went all the way back to the 17th century and music of Henry Purcell. The tune - upon which Britten's numerous orchestral explorations are based - is a simple hornpipe from Abdelazer, a play for which Purcell composed incidental music in 1695. Tonight, the work is narrated by none other than Sean Connery.
Debussy dedicated his Children's Corner to his daughter, Claude-Emma - known as "Chou-Chou" - who was three years old at the time. The pieces are not intended to be played by children; rather they are meant to be evocative of childhood and some of the toys in Claude-Emma's toy collection. Born in 1905, the girl was adored by her father. She died aged 13 scarcely a year after Debussy's own death.
George Dyson’s charming Children’s Suite after Walter de la Mare also evokes a nursery atmosphere. Dating from 1920, the suite was first played complete in 1925 as Won’t You Look Out of Your Window? the title taken from lines in de la Mare’s poem ‘The Mocking Fairy’ from Peacock Pie. One critic wrote, "Dr Dyson’s music does suggest something of the fireside and candlelight atmosphere, the spirit of nursery rhymes, fairy tales, drollery and fantasy…"
Elgar's love of children and their intimate world was something he never lost. His music contains a variety of works which are happily associated with childhood. The Nursery Suite was written to mark the birth of our present Queen and her sister Margaret to the Duchess of York in 1926 and 1930 respectively. Eager to hear the suite, the Duke and Duchess attended the premiere at Kingsway Hall in 1931. They particularly liked one movement called 'The Wagon (passes)' and immediately requested an encore before hearing the rest of the work. The score is dedicated 'by permission to their Royal Highnesses, the Duchess of York and the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose."
Tonight's concert ends with more royal children - Engelbert Humperdinck's overture to Konigskinder - The King's Children. The opera tells the story of princess who is forced to act as a goose-girl in a forest by an old witch who has cast a spell upon her. There's a prince, of course, who falls in love with her, and a broom-maker and wood-chopper guided by a wandering minstrel, who are seeking a sovereign and determine to break the spell.
Johannes Brahms: Academic Festival Overture
Riccardo Chailly conducts the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Benjamin Britten: The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
Narrator: Sean Connery
Antal Dorati conducts the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Claude Debussy: Children’s Corner
Piano: Claude Debussy
George Dyson: Children’s Suite After Walter de la Mare
Richard Hickox conducts the City of London Sinfonia
Edward Elgar: Nursery Suite
Paul Goodwin conducts the English Chamber Orchestra
Engelbert Humperdinck: The Royal Children
Karl Anton Rickenbacher conducts the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra