Poster A child plays piano.
A child plays piano.
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What's the ideal work to introduce classical music to kids? Here are your picks

Classical Kids: First Classical Work

We asked listeners to suggest the ideal work to introduce classical music to kids, and you responded in droves. The clear winner? Let's just say that most people were crying wolf.

That's right: Sergei Prokofiev's iconic work for children, Peter and the Wolf, was suggested more than any other. In fact, about one-fourth of the entries were for the well-loved work, subtitled as a "Symphonic Fairy Tale for Children."

Andrea Johnson of Lake Elmo, Minn., summed up the work's appeal: "With narration, it is a timeless folk story that engages children while simultaneously teaching them to identify musical motifs and appreciate the tone colors of a variety of instruments and orchestral combinations. It is beautiful and it is hummable."

"I especially like the clarinet imitating the cat," said Lazlo, the 4-year-old grandson of John Pastor in Falcon Heights, Minn.

Two more popular works for children came in as a distant second and third — Camille Saint-Seans' Carnival of the Animals and Benjamin Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. Right in that mix was Gioachino Rossini's high-trotting William Tell Overture.

Other works receiving several mentions each included Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee, Ferde Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite, Edvard Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King and the entire Peer Gynt Suite, Modeste Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, and Peter Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite.

Some of the more adventurous choices included John Adams' Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Leroy Anderson's The Waltzing Cat, and George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.

Join host Julie Amacher for a two-hour special surveying your suggestions for the ideal work to introduce kids to classical music by clicking the player above.


Musical Jewelry Box
Stephen Hough
Jenny Lin, piano
Steinway & Sons 30043

Peter and the Wolf
Sergei Prokofiev
Patrick Stewart, narrator
Lyon Opera Orchestra
Erato 97418

"Twinkle, Twinkle" Variations (Ah, vous dirai-je, maman)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Walter Gieseking, piano
EMI 63688

Starlight Express: Waltz
Edward Elgar
Bournemouth Sinfonietta
Chandos 8432

African Suite
Andrew York & Bill Kanengiser
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet
Sony 60274

Dance of the Hours
Amilcare Ponchielli
Academy of St Martin in the Fields
EMI 64107

Goin' Home
Antonin Dvorak
Cantus 1210

Nocturne No. 2
Frederic Chopin
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
London/Decca 466357

Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra
Benjamin Britten
Kansas City Symphony
Reference 120

Flight of the Bumblebee
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Itzhak Perlman, violin
EMI 56602

Carnival of the Animals
Camille Saint-Saens
Martha Argerich, piano
Saint Cecilia Orchestra
Warner 75555

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