Mendelssohn, John Dryden, Henry Purcell discussed on Classics for Kids


Right? Incidental music illustrates the action or creates a mood for what's going on in a movie or play. For thousands of years all the way back to the earliest theater in ancient Greece, people have been using music to spice up what's happening on stage. The first time someone composed incidental music for a particular play may have been in 1664 for the first performance of John dryden's play the Indian Queen. But that music is lost now. A bit later, Henry Purcell wrote that music for another production of the Indian Queen. I have a composer friend who writes incidental music for plays and jokingly refers to it as accidental music, but since he and other composers spend hours getting the music just right, it's anything but an accident how music is used in the theater. That's some of the incidental music Felix mendelssohn wrote to set the mood for the fairies and magic in William Shakespeare's comedy amid summer night's dream. One of the human characters in a midsummer night's dream, bottom the weaver spends a good part of the play wearing a donkey's head instead of his own. In another piece of mendelssohn's incidental music for the play, you can hear the donkey going, he ha. He ha. The braying donkey is just one way that mendelssohn lets you know that amid summer night's dream is funny. Good composers use their music to show whether a play is a comedy or a tragedy. Definitely not funny, right? Ludwig van Beethoven wrote very noble music for the play egmont about a noble man who stands up to the Spanish inquisition. It's hard to stand up to the Spanish inquisition without losing your head, or getting hanged, which is what happens to egmont. The tragedy egmont is by the German poet Goethe, who really knew how to put words together. Unfortunately, Goethe had nothing to do with the German play rosamunde, which was so terrible that both the author and the play have pretty much been forgotten, but not the wonderful incidental music that Franz schubert wrote for rosamunde. If people like Beethoven and mendelssohn were composing today, they'd probably be writing music for the movies. Lots of classical composers have written film music like Erin Copeland, who sets just the right tone for the movie version of Thornton wilder's play our town. Of course, movie music has only been around since the mid 20th century, so all the composers who lived before then, like edvard grieg wrote their incidental music for plays. You can tell just by the sound of it that something very creepy is going on in the hall of the mountain king. In the hall of the mountain king is just one part of the incidental music that edvard grieg composed for the play peer gynt. Next week I'll let grieg's incidental music tell you the story of the play. I'm Naomi Lewin. I write classics for kids and produce it with Tim lantern at wgc, Cincinnati. I hope you can join me again for more classics for kids..

Coming up next