I’ve highlighted three favorite children’s pieces by Dimitri Kabalevsky and Robert Schumann that are very catchy, colorful and harmonically engaging.
They fall into the category of programmatic music because the character of the compositions match the titles.
Even though Schumann and Kabalevsky dedicated their compositions to a youthful generation, the music is quite sophisticated and can be studied by adults as well as children.
The selections chosen are Kabalevsky’s “Clowns” and “Gallop,” as well as Schumann’s “Wild Rider.”
Kabalevsky was a 20th Century Russian Composer who was Director of a music school in his native country where he composed pieces for his students and developed their technical/musical skills.
“Clowns is a bi-tonal composition, alternating “A” Major and “A” minor thirds in step-wise motion in the right hand treble, while the Left Hand has a redundant bass pattern known as an “ostinato,” in staccato (short and crisp)
The middle “B” section is in F Major with the melody inverted, but still in bi-tonality.
Kabalevsky indicated a much softer dynamic in this section.
A bridge of 16ths notes in “A” minor, brings the piece gracefully back to the opening theme as a CLIMAX in a FORTE dynamic, with a Coda providing a definitive conclusion.
“Gallop” is an energetic selection that sounds like horses in motion. The challenge is to master the Left and Right parts with attention to separate note groupings in each. The Left hand opens with split chords in slurs of TWO while the right hand has FIVE notes in one phrase mark above. (The A section)
The middle or “B” section is more rhythmically straightforward and is easier to coordinate between the hands because the Bass is punctuated in 8ths while the Right treble has quarters over these. (No mismatched slurs or articulations)
The “A” section then returns, and ends the piece.
The final piece showcased is Schumann’s “Wild Rider” from his “Album for the Young.”
The composer was associated with the Romantic era (expressive) of music composition (early to late 19th Century) and produced a vast array of solo pieces for many different instruments as well as orchestra.
The Album for the Young has many lyrical selections alongside lively works.
“Wild Rider” is a picturesque miniature evoking a horseman in motion and its harmonic scheme in the bass gives rise to the melody which is a series of crisp broken chord patterns outlining tonic, sub-dominant and dominant harmonies.
The staccato articulations enhance the mood throughout the piece which has an “A” minor opening “A” section followed by a “B” section in F Major (topsy turvy voices) Then it returns to the opening section in “A” minor.
Both Kabalevsky pieces, along with the Schumann selection offered, are treasured the world over by teachers and students, because of their beauty, and their technical challenges. They provide wonderfully enriching repertoire for late beginners and others who are advancing in their studies.