About the Book:
The works of Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Verdi and others, are introduced to children through the magical beings from legends and classic tales—including gnomes, fairies, witches, goblins, elves and wizards—that inspired the composers. An original and interesting way for younger listeners to discover classical music, this book pairs three centuries of music history with stunning and evocative illustrations. A glossary of musical terms, a short biography of each composer, and a brief presentation of each extraordinary character are included.
About the Music CD:
The accompanying CD features 20 excerpts from various recordings performed by world-class luminaries, including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, La Scala Chorus and Orchestra, and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
Ages: 7 to 9 / Canadian and U.S. Pub Date: June 17, 2014
My Thoughts:Back when I was in high school, my 9-11th grade science teacher introduced me and many of my friends to classical music. As away to relax us and help us become better test takers, she would play an assortment of classical music CDs while we were taking our tests, or studying for mid-terms and final exams. At first, we thought she was crazy playing music in class, as we hadn't seen this done in other classes. But, when it came time for test taking, the classical music played really helped us to relax. And, we all performed better on our tests, which was another plus! :-)
As a result of being exposed to classical music, I soon found myself seeking out some of the composers I would hear during our science classes, to bring along with me when I headed off to college. During my sophomore year, I was excited to find a music appreciation class being offered, that took a look at the great composers and what was the true meaning behind their popular pieces. I found this fascinating, as it made me appreciate great composers on a whole new level. To this day, whenever I need to regroup or unwind after a hectic day, I find myself reaching for a classical music CD. During my two pregnancies, I would play the works of Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Bach to my girls in the womb, whenever they would start to kick around like crazy. Classical music seemed to sooth them then, and continues to sooth them, especially when they are not feeling well and need to relax.
So, when I was recently sent "Simply Fantastic: An Introduction to Classical Music," a storybook and music CD set to share with the girls, I was excited, not just because the CD featured some of my favorite classical composers, but that I would be able to share musical history that spans three centuries with the girls, and let them see through vibrant and eye catching illustrations, the meaning of the classical pieces I have shared with them. From gnomes and fairies to wizards and elves, children will be introduced to popular classical composers through short biographies of each, taught a glossary of musical terms before sharing an explanation of the songs including the characters that inspired the composers.
The following works are included on the CD, included with this storybook:
01. The Fairy-Queen Henry Purcell
02. A Midsummer Night’s Dream Felix Mendelssohn
03. Puck’s Dance (Preludes) Claude Debussy
04. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (The Nutcracker) Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky
05. The Witch Baba Yaga (Album for the Young) Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky
06. The Hut on Fowl’s Legs (Pictures at an Exhibition, IX) Modest Mussorgsky
07. The Gnome (Pictures at an Exhibition) Modest Mussorgsky
08. In the Hall of the Mountain King (Peer Gynt) Edvard Grieg
09. Der Erlkönig (The Elf King) Franz Schubert
10. Danse Macabre Camille Saint-Saëns
11. Dance of Terror (Love, the Magician) Manuel de Falla
12. Dance of the Blessed Spirits (Orpheus and Eurydice) Christoph Willibald Gluck
13. Ride of the Valkyries Richard Wagner
14. The Queen of the Night Aria (The Magic Flute) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
15. Witches’ Chorus (Macbeth) Giuseppe Verdi
16. Witches’ Dance Niccolo Paganini
17. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Paul Dukas
18. Devil’s Trill Sonata Giuseppe Tartini
19. The Devil’s Staircase György Ligeti
20. Infernal Dance of All Kashchei’s Subjects (The Firebird) Igor Stravinsky
While my girls are still too young to really get excited about music history, I know that as they get older and they become more curious about things, that this storybook and CD set will be enjoyed in a whole new way. Right now, however, the girls are enjoying reading about fairies, witches, goblins and other mystical creatures, while also enjoying a sampling of stellar classical music from amazing composers. I can see this storybook and CD set also coming in handy for homeschooling parents, looking to share an introduction to classical music with their children, in a fun and easy to understand way.
You can learn more about this and other great storybook and CD sets about a variety of subject matters by visiting The Secret Mountain today -- http://www.thesecretmountain.com/.
Mexico-based author Ana Gerhard studied as a concert pianist at the Mexican National Conservatory. She has taught piano for several years and has hosted numerous radio programs dedicated to the promotion of classical music. Ms. Gerhard is also the author of classical music guide, Listen to the Birds – An Introduction to Music.
Award-winning illustrator Claudia Legnazzi studied painting formally at the National School of Fine Arts in Prilidiano Avellaneda, Buenos Aires. For the past quarter century, she has focused on illustrating children's books where she took First Prize from the Argentina Book Chamber. She has also won the Grand Prize Contest NOMA book illustrations by Asia / Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO, and received a Special Jury Mention at the First Ever Children's Picture City of Alicante, Spain, for the book Cat Cat. Additional awards include the Argentina Book Chamber’s Album of the Year and Mexico’s International Prize for Illustrated Books. The Chihiro Art Museum of Japan has also included some of her work in their permanent collection. Ms. Legnazzi now resides in Mexico.
Disclosure: I was sent a review copy from the vendor in order to write up an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.