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Classical Kids Music Lessons: Beethoven Bonanza

Beethoven sculpturesValdas Miskinis/Pixabay

May 28, 2020

LISTEN — Audio Instructions

Need ideas for easy and fun at-home music learning? Here's our daily Classical Kids Music Lesson.

Ever heard of a composer named Beethoven? Today we will learn a few basics about the composer, his life, and music. Plus, we'll listen to a few greatest hits.

Target age range: all ages

1. First, some music. Have you heard this one? It's called Für Elise, for solo piano.

LISTEN — Für Elise
Ludwig van Beethoven
Louis Lortie, piano

2. Five fast facts:

• His full name was Ludwig van Beethoven.
• He was born in 1770 in Bonn, Germany.
• He died in 1827 at the age of 57. He is buried at the central cemetery in Vienna, Austria.
• He began to lose his hearing in his early thirties and was completely deaf by age 40. He could still compose music by hearing it in his head.
• He liked to go hiking in the Vienna Woods.
Match each picture below with one of the five facts.

Five Facts
Five Beethoven Facts
Images from Pixabay

3. Time for more music! Here is the very famous first movement from Beethoven's Symphony No. 5.

LISTEN — Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 I. Allegro con brio
Ludwig van Beethoven
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig; Herbert Blomstedt, conductor

4. Reflection questions for journaling or discussion.

• Have you heard some of this music before? Do you remember when or where?
• Why do you think Beethoven's music is still played 250 years after he was born? What makes it stand the test of time?
• Do you think Beethoven has influenced other composers and musicians? In what ways?
• How do you think music and music-making have changed in the 250 years since Beethoven was born? Name some major changes.
• How would you describe this music to someone who had never heard it before?
• What do you think it was like for Beethoven to lose his hearing? How would you cope with a setback like that?

5. Beethoven was famous for writing symphonies and piano music, but he also wrote a lot of beautiful chamber music, or music for small groups of musicians. A very common type of chamber group is the string quartet, which includes two violins, a viola, and a cello. Here is the typical seating arrangement for a string quartet.

String quartet layout
Typical string quartet layout
Wikimedia Commons

Listen to a little bit of a string quartet by Beethoven.

LISTEN — String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major, Op. 130 IV. Alla danza tedesca
Ludwig van Beethoven
Yale Quartet

6. Finally, here is the second movement from Beethoven's Symphony #7. Notice a simple melody repeats over and over and is passed around to different instrument families.

LISTEN — Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 II. Allegretto
Ludwig van Beethoven
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig; Herbert Blomstedt, conductor

7. Want to see some musicians performing Beethoven? Here are Class Notes Concert artists Artu Duo performing at Classical MPR studios.

8. Can't get enough Beethoven? Find some at Classical MPR's Daily Download.

Have a question or suggestion? Contact Katie Condon, music education specialist.

More: View all of our daily Classical Kids Music Lessons