What is Piece of the Week?
The new Piece of the Week blog series highlights noteworthy pieces from SmartMusic’s enormous repertoire library. Posts include composition notes as well as composer information, and serve as another opportunity to explore music history and music listening with your students. Most of this information can also be found within the SmartMusic app by clicking the Information button before opening a piece.
Ideas for your classroom:
Start a fun music listening contest. Students try to identify the piece, composer, and date by listening to the Piece of the Week’s recording in SmartMusic. Add each new Piece of the Week to the contest, and end the school year with a class championship using pieces from the entire year. You could also offer a Piece of the Week to your students for extra credit or a make up assignment if they earn above a specified score.
Let me know if you have any other ways to implement the Piece of the Week series in your curriculum, and I will try to add any additional information you may need.
Do you have a piece that every SmartMusic student should know? I will take Piece of the Week requests, just leave a comment below.
Largo from New World Symphony
Symphony No. 9 (composed in 1893) is nicknamed New World Symphony because Dvorak wrote it during the time he spent in the U.S. in the 1890s. His experiences in America and his longing for home color his music with mixed emotions. There’s both a yearning that simmers and an air of innocence. Because the overall style is smooth, the arrangement should be quite useful for teaching legato style. This arrangement is scored to facilitate good balance as much as possible; be sure that the melody is never covered by the accompaniment.
Here’s the famous symphonic theme artfully arranged for young bands in a version that is very faithful to the original. With the memorable English horn solo transcribed for alto saxophone, this provides a great vehicle for your up-and-coming young soloist. Colorful percussion writing and melodic opportunities for the low brass make this arrangement a first-class choice for expanding your students’ knowledge of the classical repertoire.
Composer – Dvorák, Antonín
Antonin Leopold Dvorak was born September 8, 1841 in Muhlausen , Bohemia and died on May 1, 1904 in Prague, Bohemia. An internationally known composer of the Late Romantic era (1875-1900) he was also highly honored in his native Czechoslovakia as a national treasure. Antonin’s father wanted him to become a butcher and found him work as an apprentice, but Antonin managed to study music at the same time.
His first professional employment was as an orchestral violist. It was during this time that he began to compose. His compositions were not widely known until they came to the attention of Johannes Brahms who caused them to be widely published. As a composer he had a keen admiration for the music of the Classical era composers, especially Mozart, but was also interested in the latest musical developments. Like his countryman Smetana, he absorbed the stylistic and melodic elements of Czech folksong into many of his works. His harmonies were less adventurous than those of Wagner, whom he greatly admired, but he did exploit the expressive power of dissonance within a stable tonal framework. He composed works in all the major 19th century forms including the symphony, string quartet, concerto, opera, and various vocal forms including the mass and oratorio.
His most well-known work is perhaps the “Symphony From the New World,” composed while director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York. Dvorak was passionately interested in the national music of all countries and as a teacher sought to encourage his students toward their own native national music.
Arranger – Williams, Mark
Mark Williams was one of the premier composers for school bands and orchestras. Co-author of theAccent on Achievement Band Method, Mr. Williams had over 200 published works to his credit. As clinician and guest conductor, he traveled to 34 states, 5 Canadian provinces, and Australia. Mr. Williams was born in Chicago and grew up in Spokane, Washington. He taught music in the state of Washington for many years, specializing in elementary band.
Mr. Williams held the Bachelor of Arts in Education and Master of Education degrees from Eastern Washington University and served as woodwind performer and arranger for the 560th Air Force Band. Renowned for his compositions for band, orchestra, and choir, Mr. Williams earned numerous awards including the Western International Band Clinic’s Gralia Competition and several ASCAP Special Awards. In addition to his writing and travel schedule, Mark performed regularly on bassoon and served as Conductor and Artistic Director for the Spokane British Brass Band.