A magical musical experience for every occasion!

For bookings/ information contact Gerry Kelly
087 2462636 | corkpops@gmail.com

Primary Notes March ’16

Primary Teacher’s Notes

The music curriculum for our primary schools ‘recognises the joy of shared experiences which demand collaborationconcentration, and discipline.’ You will know all about this from preparing for school concerts, communions, confirmations, competitions, etc. There really is great joy to be had from performing music together – (even if there is hard work involved) – and also in listening to music together. The hard work involved is – Concentration (listening carefully; allowing your brain and your imagination time to process the music); Silence (while the music is playing, so that you do not interfere with other people’s listening enjoyment. This requires discipline! It is SO tempting to talk.) You are Collaborating with the other audience members, and with the musicians, when you help each other to focus on the music.

Think about the music and discuss it later– Is it exciting, happy sad? How does it make you feel? What does it remind you of? What do you imagine when you hear it? Was it fast or slow? Loud or soft? High or low?

Listening is a skill that is worth developing. There is so much wonderful music to hear, appreciate, and enjoy. It will stay with you for a lifetime.

Composers Factfile


George Gershwin   

Born – Brooklyn, New York – 1898

Died – Hollywood – 1937

One of America’s most famous song-writers; used jazz style in classical compositions. Made his fortune as a composer of popular songs, but would like to have been more appreciated as a composer of ‘serious’ music. Influenced by the French composer, Maurice Ravel. His opera, Porgy and Bess, (1935) was the first to feature classically-trained African-American singers.

Recommended listening : Rhapsody In Blue (1924) – piano & orchestra

Porgy & Bess (1935)– folk opera – includes ‘Summertime’

On the concert              :   I’ve Got Rhythm

On the internet              :  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bKstQNsQKc

George Gershwin plays I’ve Got Rhythm on the piano–recorded in New York in 1931


George Gershwin explains how he wrote The Variations on I’ve Got Rhythm – and performs with the orchestra – recorded in 1934


For further information see www.gershwin.com

Pyotr Iliyich Tchaikovsky

Born – Viatka, Russia – 1840

Died – St. Petersburg – 1893

One of the most popular Russian composers of the Romantic era of classical music.

Famous especially for his ballet music. Wrote 6 symphonies and several operas.

Recommended listening : 1812 Overture; Nutcracker Ballet; Piano Concerto

On the concert             :   Danse Russe – Trepak from the Nutcracker Ballet

On the internet             : Bolshoi Ballet perform the Trepak


Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London – Trepak


Beautiful full-length film of Swan Lake from the Kirov Ballet


Jacques Offenbach

Born –   Frankfurt-on-Main 1819

Died –   Paris – 1880

Famous composer of French operetta – a light-hearted form of opera. Began career as a cellist. The ‘Can-Can’ is taken from Orpheus in the Underworld, which is a comic story about mythological gods and goddesses. The Baroque composer, Christoph Gluck, had written a serious opera on the same subject, Orfeo e Euridice, in 1762.

Recommended listening : Offenbach Overtures – including Orpheus in the Underworld; Tales of Hoffman;

On the concert             :   The Can-Can (from Orpheus in the Underworld)

On the internet             : Zubin Mehta conducting

the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in the complete

Orpheus in the Underworld Overture


Antonin Dvorak

 Born – Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) – 1841

Died – Prague             – 1904

Born in a village on the Vlata River. (Another important Bohemian composer, Smetana, wrote a great orchestral piece describing this river.) A nationalist composer, Dvorak was very influenced by the folk music of his country. Lived in New York between 1892 – 1895, where he became interested in the music of the African-Americans (Spirituals) and native American Indians. The cor-anglais tune he wrote for the slow movement of his New World Symphony (No. 9) was adapted, in 1922, as the hymn tune “Goin’ Home” by one of his students, William Arms Fisher.

Recommended listening :

On the concert             :           Slavonic Dance No. 8 op. 46

On the internet             :           Dvorak Slavonic Dances op.46


Brahms 16 Hungarian Dances


Johann Strauss Sr. ( the 1st or The Father)

Born    – Vienna – 1804

Died    – Vienna – 1849

Very important in the development of light music in the nineteenth century. Played with another composer of waltzes, Joseph Lanner, before setting up his own orchestra. His family continued his work, with his son Johann achieving great fame.

Recommended listening :

On the concert             :           Radetsky March

On the internet             :           New Year’s Day Concert in Vienna (2014)

The conductor greets each member of the orchestra


Johann Strauss Jr. (the 2nd     or The Son) 

Born – Vienna – 1825

Died – Vienna – 1899

Was already named ‘The Waltz King’ before his father died. Toured Europe and America playing the ‘pop’ music of his time. The work of Jacques Offenbach inspired him to compose operettas. The Blue Danube is his most famous waltz.

Recommended listening :

On the concert             :           Pizzicato Polka (written in collaboraton with his brother, Josef)

On the internet             :           New Year’s Concert, Vienna (2012)


Blue Danube with Viennese Ballet & Orchestra


Georges Bizet

 Born – Paris, France – 1838

Died – Bougival, France – 1875

One of Bizet’s teachers at the Paris Conservatoire was Charles Gounod, whose ballet music from Faust will be heard at the concert. Bizet wrote his first sympony at the age of 17. His opera Carmen is his most famous work. Set in Spain, one of the characters is a bull-fighter (a toreador). A film was later made of the opera, but the toreador became a boxer! The Toreador’s Song became Stand Up and Fight – and this version became the ‘anthem’ for Munster Rugby.

Recommended listening : Toreador’s Song; Habanera; anything from Carmen

On the concert             :           Farandole from L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2

On the internet             :           Farandole ‘Flashmob’


Le Bal (Galop) from Jeux D’Enfants (Children’s Games) –piano duet


Russian Bass, Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings The Toreador’s Song at

The Last Night of the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall.


George Frederick Handel

 Born – Halle, Germany – 1685

Died – London, England – 1759; buried in Westminster Abbey.

He worked as director of music for the Elector of Hanover, who later became King George the First, of England. Among the music he wrote for royalty are his Water Music Suites and Music for the Royal Fireworks. His operas were influenced by his travels to Italy. He developed Oratorio while in England – a bit like opera, but less staging, featuring more choral pieces, and mostly using biblical texts. His most famous Oratorio, The Messiah, was premiered in Dublin in 1742.

Recommended listening :       Water Music; Royal Fireworks;

Messiah arias and choruses– Hallelujah Chorus

On the concert             :           Zadok, The Priest

On the internet             :           Handel – Zadok – The Coronation Anthem.


Handel’s Messiah – Dublin


Location of the Music Hall, Fishamble St. Dublin –   venue for the premiere of the Messiah – currently the offices of the Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland.


Ballet – The Dance and The Music

The term comes from the Italian verb ‘ballare’ – to dance. It began during the Renaissance, about 500 years ago, as entertainment in the courts of Italy. It was introduced to the French court by Catherine De Medici, when she married King Henry, the Second. The King’s resident composer, Jean-Baptiste Lully, included extensive ballet scenes in his operas, and thus began a tradition of combining ballet in French operas. This tradition continued into the 19th and early 20th century. When composers like Ponchielli, Verdi, or Wagner had their operas performed in Paris, it was customary for them to include a ballet sequence.

It was in France and Russia, during the 19th century, that ballet really developed as an art-form. Some extraordinarily beautiful music was written, especially for the ballet. Tchaikovsky (1840 -1893) represents to high-point of musical composition for ballet in Russia in the 19th century; in the 20th century, the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky (1884 – 1971) was particularly influential, especially through his association with the choreographer Diaghilev, the director of the Paris-based dance company, ‘Ballet Russe’. The orchestral music for their ballets is often performed without the dancing.

Tchaikovsky – Swan Lake Ballet http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ea90L91eZk

Stravinsky – The Firebird Ballet (excerpt)


Leo Delibes (1836 -1891) composed the music for some of the most popular ballets ever performed. Born in France, his big first success came in 1870, with Coppélia, the story of a doll that comes to life. This was followed by Sylvia, in 1876, set in pagan Greece. He also had great success writing opera, and the Flower Duet from his opera Lakmé is especially popular.

Anna Netrebko and Elena Garance sing the Flower Duet


Waltz from Coppelia


Amilcare Ponchielli (1834 – 1886) was a very successful 19th Italian composer of operas – nearly as famous, in his day, as Giuseppe Verdi.   Nowadays, he is best known for the opera La Gioconda, which features a very popular ballet scene – The Dance of the Hours, representing the different times of the day, from dawn, through daytime, and into the early evening, and then the night.

Ballet – The Dance of the Hours from La Gioconda


The Dance of the Hours ‘Hippos’ segment in Disney’s Fantastia


Dance Forms in Classical Music

 Renaissance Dance music was written to be played on the lute, viols, recorders, and sackbuts.


Baroque Period – (Mid- 17th – early 18th Centuries) – Courtly Dances

Instrumental music from this period often features ‘Suites’ of music – which include the popular dance forms of the time :

Allemande       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZWDrjLO7r4

Gigue              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_lthPnJ59E

Bourrée           https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3SMNkpnL-E

Minuet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j6ok5vWYSA

Gavotte            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZGcW2JX7rk

 Classical Period – (18th Century –incl. Haydn, Mozart and early Beethoven)

 The ‘minuet’ – a 3-beat-in-a-bar courtly dance – was incorporated into symphonies, – usually as the 3rd movement. The ‘dance’ section was followed by a contrasting ‘trio’ section, and then the minuet was repeated. The minuet and trio movement was later replaced by the lively ‘Scherzo’ third movement.

Haydn ‘Surprise Symphony’ – Minuet and Trio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8yp-DBGNV0

Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik – Minuet and Trio


Beethoven Minuet for Piano


From the Romantic Period of the 19th Century

The Waltz became hugely popular – both in the ballrooms and as compositions for concert audiences. The Strauss family wrote many famous waltzes. Folk dances, such as polkas and mazurkas were also popular in the ballrooms.

Frederick Chopin (1810 – 1849), Poland’s most famous composer used this popular dance form in his compositions for piano.

Chopin Waltzes – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qs9lRO9WT8g

The Nationalist movement during this century resulted in many ‘classical music’ composers writing music based on the folk traditions of their homelands.

Since the 20th Century, ‘Contemporary Dance’ has evolved as an art-form.

There was, also, the development of public dance halls, ballroom dancing, jazz music, and, of course, the recording industry. Latin-American rhythms; African-American influences; Japanese culture; new technology and more – all found its way into ‘classical’ music – also known as ‘serious’ music or ‘art music’ – and influenced the music written for or used in contemporary dance.

I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free

This is a gospel/jazz song written by Billy Taylor and “Dick Dallas”, best known for the recording by Nina Simone in 1967 on her Silk & Soul album.

I wish I knew how it would feel to be free.

I wish I could break all the chains holding me.

I wish I could say all the things that I should say.

Say ‘em loud say ‘em clear

For the whole world to hear.


I wish I could give all I’m longing to give,

I wish I could live like I’m longing to live,

I wish I could do all the things that I can do,

Though I’m way overdue,

I’d be starting anew.


Well, I wish I could be like a bird in the sky,

How sweet it would be if I found I could fly.

Oh, I’d soar to the sun and look down on the sea.

And I’d see cos I’d know x 3

How it feels to be free.

Down to the River to Pray

The exact origins of this song are unknown, although it is generally thought to have been written by an African-American slave. It is a traditional American song, variously described as a Christian folk hymn, an African-American spiritual, an Appalachian song, and a gospel song. It gained popularity in 2000 after Alison Krauss performed it for the soundtrack of the Coen Brothers film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?.[1]

1                                                                      2

As I went down to the river to pray,                 As I went down to the river to pray,

Studying about the good old way                    Studying about the good old way,

And who shall wear the starry crown.  And who shall wear the robe and crown.

God Lord, show me the way.                           God Lord, show me the way.

O sisters, let’s go down,                                  O brothers, let’s go down,

let’s go down,                                                  let’s go down,

won’t you come on down.                               won’t you come on down.

O sisters, let’s go down,                                  O brothers, let’s go down,

Down to the river to pray.                                Down to the river to pray.

This Little Light of Mine

Dating from around 1920, this children’s gospel song made its way into the Civil Rights movement repertoire in the 1950s and 60s, alongside We Shall Overcome. It is now considered to be part of the American folk music tradition.


This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine

Let it shine, shine, shine – Let it shine.


Hide it under a bushel? – NO! I’m gonna let it shine 

     Hide it under a bushel? – NO! I’m gonna let it shine 

     Hide it under a bushel? – NO! I’m gonna let it shine 

Everyday? Everyday!

Everyday? Everyday!

Everyday? Everyday!

Everyday? Everyday!

Everyday? Everyday!

Everyday? Everyday!

I’m gonna let my little light shine.


Shine my light both bright and clear, I’m gonna let it shine

Shine my light both bright and clear, I’m gonna let it shine

Shine my light both bright and clear, I’m gonna let it shine

Let it shine, shine, shine – Let it shine.


Light that shines is the light of love; I’m gonna let it shine

Light that shines is the light of love; I’m gonna let it shine

Light that shines is the light of love; I’m gonna let it shine

Everyday? Everyday!

Everyday? Everyday!

Everyday? Everyday!

Everyday? Everyday!

Everyday? Everyday!

Everyday? Everyday!

Let it shine, shine, shine – Let it shine.


See www.corkpops.ie for direct links to these website addresses


 Watch ‘I wish I knew’ as played by the composer Billy Taylor on 


 Watch (a very young) Nina Simone singing ‘I wish I knew’ on


Same song with in a different rhythmic style – a different jazz ‘feel’. –Nina Simone plays piano and sings



John Legend talks to Jools Holland


John Legend sings I wish I how it feels to be free



Alison Krauss from the sountrack to O Brother, where art thou


Medley from O Brother, where art thou – performed on the Grammy Awards in 2002


Alison Krauss live in Nashwille with Ricky Skaggs



Soweto Gospel Choir


Bruce Springsteen in Dublin the Seeger Sessions Tour (2006)


Pete Seeger from the Smithsonian Collection