classical for kids

How do you get young children to enjoy and appreciate classical music?

There was a fascinating piece in yesterday’s The Guardian, which tackled this question – through the 5 year-old daughter of writer Alexis Petridis.

The piece is well worth reading, particularly in its exploration of how children are less prejudiced about what they are prepared to listen to.

‘Ligeti? That’s not scary, Dad’ – The Guardian

My own interest in classical music started slightly later, aged 11 or 12, with regular concert-going (‘First Concerts,’ 11th December 2011).

The ground had been prepared.

I remember being exposed to popular favourites like Holst’s ‘The Planets’ and Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture’  as we walked in to junior school assembly.

Melodic music played by a full orchestra in full cry – every morning.

Of course, modern classical music tends to jettison melody and familiar orchestral textures in favour of being ‘new’ and ‘different,’ which is fair enough.

Otherwise you end up being compared with other established and better-known composers, and run the risk of accusations of pastiche.

So it’s heartening to hear that Petridis’s 5 year-old liked the most out-there piece that she was exposed to – a work for organ called ‘Volumnia’ composed in the early 1960s by Gyorgy Ligeti (1923-2006).

Gyorgy Ligeti – Volumnia

How long did you manage?

Yes, it is a tough listen, but perhaps that’s just prejudice.

My prejudice may well be rooted in an experience I had at one of my Liverpool Philharmonic visits during my teens.

I clearly remember Ligeti’s fellow Hungarian Zsolt Durko (1934-1997) walking on stage to take the applause after a performance of one of his works.

A tall man wearing glasses dressed in a dark suit.

To my ears then, it was strange and inaccessible music. But I wonder ‘was it really that strange?’

A ll I know is that forever after, my school friends and I labelled anybody we didn’t rate as ‘a Durko.’


Seems like the perfect moment to check out some Durko.

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