Collective Listening Project

Tunes for the Family! Bruce Adolphe Selects

Playlist No. 70

About the Playlist

October 19, 2022
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A note from our “Meet the Music” family concert host Bruce Adolphe:

“As Inspector Pulse’s inner human, I am delighted to share some music with you! Some of these pieces tell stories, others have just the feeling of a story, and all of them can set your imagination spinning (or whatever your imagination likes to do.)

  • Bruce Adolphe: Tyrannosaurus Sue—A Cretaceous Concerto

Do you think dinosaurs played or listened to music? If they wanted to, no one could stop them! I composed this piece to tell the story of a Tyrannosaurus rex named Sue.  Sue is musically portrayed by a trombone, and the other dinosaurs in the story are: a Parasaurolophus, played by a bassoon; a Troodon, portrayed by a clarinet; and a Triceratops, represented by the French horn. In the final movement — Dawning of a New World — human beings enter the story, and I chose the violin to represent Humanity.  I wrote this piece for the exhibition of the actual bones of a T. rex named Sue at the Chicago Field Museum! The Cretaceous period was between 145 and 66 million years ago.

You might enjoy watching a video of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performing it in Alice Tully Hall.

(I am the narrator on both of these recordings.)

  • Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons/Winter 

If you were composing a piece about winter, how would you do it? Winter (L’Inverno in Italian) is one of the concertos in Vivaldi’s set of violin concertos called The Four Seasons.  As you listen to Winter  (L’Inverno), notice how Vivaldi depicts cold, shivering, icy winter with music — no words needed! There are three movements, all freezing cold. Listen closely and wear some gloves!

  • Felix Mendelssohn: Octet for Strings/first movement

Did you ever have a difficult time trying to figure out the perfect birthday present for someone? Felix Mendelssohn wrote an amazing Octet for strings (4 violins 2 violas, and 2 cellos) as a birthday present for his violin teacher! Felix was 16 years old when he composed this piece, which is loved by musicians throughout the world. All the movements are amazing. I suggest listening to the first movement to start.

  • Haydn: The Joke Quartet, last movement (Finale)

Can music tell a joke? Apparently, it can if the composer is Joseph Haydn. The fourth movement of this quartet is funny, but to really get the joke you have to listen all the way to the end. I recommend watching the progress bar so you can be sure it’s over. If you make a guess as to when it is over, you may be wrong…more than once! But you’ll be laughing!

  • Franz Schubert: Piano Trio in E-Flat Major, Op.100, D.929: Scherzando—Allegro moderato (3rd movement)

Did you ever imitate someone behind their back or try to repeat everything someone says while they are still talking? In music, imitation happens a lot and in Schubert’s E-Flat Major Piano Trio, there is a wonderful scherzo where this occurs right at the start. Scherzo means prank or joke, and so Scherzando, which is what the movement is called, means Playfully. The musicians must play playfully…or is it play play fully fully? Wait! That’s imitation! Enjoy the fun piece by Franz Schubert!

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Quartet in G Minor, K.478, Movement III (Rondo)

Do you know anyone who talks and talks and then keeps on talking? Or what about people who interrupt while you are talking? Mozart composed music that mirrors how conversation happens in real life!  In the Rondo (Movement III) of his Piano Quartet in G Minor, we can hear the instruments chattering away, interrupting, laughing, agreeing, arguing, and joking. Mozart gives us the rhythm, energy, shape, and feeling of how people talk, but it’s just music without any words!

  • William Grant Still: Gamin (third movement of Suite for Violin and Piano)

This piece gets you up on your feet and dancing around the room right away!

It’s got an irresistible energy! I think you’ll have to play it a few times in a row.

Maybe 100.

  • Bruce Adolphe: Tough Turkey in the Big City (A Feathered Tale)

Thanksgiving is coming very soon and so you might want to hear my piece about a turkey who becomes famous in the big city because of the Thanksgiving Day parade.

Tom Turkey is portrayed by a bass trombone; Midge Pigeon is a violin; Dudley Duck is a trumpet; Gilda Goose is a clarinet…and there are more characters in the story. But you can easily follow this wacky tale, which is told by a narrator (me) and a chamber ensemble of six musicians: clarinet, trumpet, violin, bass trombone, piano, and percussion! Recorded by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

  • Ruth Crawford Seeger: Music for Small Orchestra (Movement II): In roguish humor. Not fast.

Ruth Crawford Seeger packs a lot of music into a small space in this mischievous movement! To me, it sounds like some goblins are dancing around at night when suddenly a human turns on a light and the goblins disappear…and then they appear again when the lights go out. It’s great fun and the ending is playful and clever!

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