--English Language Arts
Students travel through musical history learning about classical composers from medieval through modern times.
Music, history, composers, classical, medieval, Renaissance, baroque, classical, romantic, modern
Before the Lesson
First, define classical music for students.
Composer and musician Lowell Hohstadt defines it as follows:
The word "classical" is used by popular culture to distinguish a particular kind of music from jazz, rock or other contemporary styles. The term "classical music" is used to describe a genre that spans the course of hundreds of years, including the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern periods, and encompassing all the music from Palestrina to Stravinsky to the current day. (Many people are unaware that classical music is still being composed today, although it is far different than what was created several hundred years ago.) Technically, however, the word "classical" represents a period of time in Western Art Music that describes the music of Haydn, Mozart and early Beethoven, as well as other composers who lived at that time.
Next (if desired), select composers in addition to the ones suggested below.
Then select and queue up one or more classical pieces to play during the research portion of the lesson.
Finally (if desired), assign students to groups.
Medieval Era (476–1400)
Country of Origin: Italy
Influences: Peers such as Lorenzo da Firenze and Andreas de Florentia
Major Works: Giovina Vaga, Sy Dolce Non Sono, and I' Priego Amor
Instrument of Choice: Organ
Bio: Seen as the most influential composer of the Trecento, Francesco Landini's work makes up about a quarter of Italian music that's survived since the 14th century. It is believed that Landini wrote his own musical and lyrical texts for the majority of his surviving work.
Most Interesting Fact: While blind from childhood, Landini was able to design new instruments as part of his work, including the 'syrena syrenarum', which combines parts of a psaltery and parts of a lute.
Country of Origin: Switzerland
Influences: Saint Tuotilo and teachers including Iso and Moengall at the monastic school Saint Gall's.
Major Works: Liber Hymnorum, a collection of sequences written from the years 881 to 887.
Instrument of Choice: Voice
Bio: Known as "Notker the Stammerer," this Benedictine monk and composer of hymns has been credited with writing many sequences that may or may not be his, including Media Vita In Morte Sumus, which was attributed to him far after his death.
Most Interesting Fact: A writer of poems, hymns and biographical work, Notker authored De Carolo Magno, which chronicles the life of Emperor Charlemagne. The work is often criticized by historians for its inaccuracy. He was a great singer, despite his stutter.
Renaissance Era (1400–1600)
Antonio de Cabezón
Baroque Era (1600–1760)
Classical Era (1730–1820)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Johann Christian Bach
Romantic Era (1815–1910)
Have students share and discuss the facts and images on their trading cards. Evaluate the students' findings based on their presentations, or by collecting and reviewing the cards afterward.
Lesson Plan Source
Jason Papallo, Education World Social Media Editor
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