Nineteenth Century History: 1820-1830 {Composers of the Romantic Period}

frenchmusicThe Romantic Period, a time in history where composers wished to reduce their listeners to tears and melt their hearts, ran from around 1825 to 1900.  To be honest, this was a tough week for me to plan.  I am so very unmusical, so my go-to option for planning a week based on composers is necessarily a non-musical one.  This of course makes no sense at all.  If we want to study the people who wrote the music we do actually need to listen and appreciate their music.  This is therefore what most of this week consisted of.  Oh, I made all the books we had on composers available for the children to read, and I read out the biographical information about eleven of the best known composers of the time using the following book:

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This book was a treasure, really, because it also enabled us to take a look at the musical years known as the Romantic Period, putting the eleven chosen composers right in the historical time place they lived.  The eleven composers were:

  • Beethoven
  • Rossini
  • Schubert
  • Mendelssohn
  • Schumann
  • Chopin
  • Verdi
  • Brahms
  • Dvorak
  • Musorgsky
  • Tchaikovsky

I included Beethoven as he was an essential link between the classical composers of the past and the Romantic composers of the 19th century.

I also had the children read this book over their quiet time, swapping round once they had finished the composers attached to that particular day:

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I gathered all the supplies we had around the house, including this excellent set of CDs:

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And we used the following website extensively, listening to each biography, the music of each composer as well as some of the fun and games (click on the picture to take you to the website)

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This website along with the game below, saved this week!  I was really struggling to plan this week and then I remembered I had bought this game from a charity shop years and years ago.  I was so excited to find we still had it!  There was just one problem – it was so old it contained a cassette tape instead of a CD!  Fortunately Gary came to the rescue with an old cassette player from work 🙂

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I tried to cover three composers each day.  For each composer we did the following:

  • I read aloud the biographical information from the book above and the children read about his/her spiritual life during their quiet time
  • We searched for the composer on the above website.  They seem to spend one month (or 4 weeks) on each composer and we were therefore able to listen to four recordings about the composer we were studying: a biographical one and four others each focusing on one well known piece of work.  Each recording had both narration and the composer’s music.
  • After listening to the four recordings we completed an activity sheet linked to the composer (downloadable from Classics for Kids)

On the Friday, when we tend to have fun school alongside the conferences, each child got to try their hand at composing some of their own music.  And Friday afternoon we spent a relaxing few hours attempting to play The Game of Great Composers.

I have to say Classics for Kids is an amazing website.  I honestly can’t say enough good things about it.  I wish I had found it earlier on in my home school journey, but I will certainly be using it for any future studies.

But, when all is said and done, I think this was our least favourite week of our entire homeschool journey.  Seriously, this week has shown me how important parent enthusiasm is in relation to child enthusiasm.  I just could not get excited about the whole composer theme, and this definitely reflected back at me with the children struggling to maintain their interest for the whole week.  Oh well.  It is done and finished.  Perhaps not well, but it is done.

Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

3 comments

  1. Hello, Claire! I agree with you about Classics for Kids. It is a fantastic jumping off point for studying composers. I really like The Spiritual Lives of Great Composers. We study one composer each month over a period of years, so studying so many in such a short space seems difficult. I would have gone craZy! We have used all of the Vox CD’s and have really enjoyed them. Also, Maestro Classics is fun, even if we are a little old for them.
    I’ve been trying to keep up with you, even though I haven’t been commenting. It seems our days are very busy as we are preparing to graduate our first child. Thirteen years into this journey and four to go after this one. Some days I wish I could start all over again.

    Take care. Hugs to you and your family.

    Donna

  2. I love music. I do not love to study music, that to me is not fun and takes the beauty out of it.

    Oddly enough studying sewing, and taking apart how it’s made does not take away the beauty of a project, but rather increases it for me. Go figure.

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