Composers We Study

As part of our music program, each grade level is assigned a famous composer. Their homeroom teachers are provided with recordings to play in the classroom and also do a composer study on their assigned composer during the year. For first through second grade students who come to music class, we delve deeper into their composer and his work, learning more about his place in history.

Grade Composer
Kindergarten and Pre-First John Philip Sousa
First Grade Ludwig Van Beethoven
Second Grade Johann Sebastian Bach
Third Grade Antonio Vivaldi
Fourth Grade Wolfgang Mozart
Firfth Grade Johannes Brahms
Sixth Grade George Gershwin
Seventh Grade Aaron Copland
Eighth Grade Peter Tchaikovsky

Interesting Facts about Our Composers

Ludwin Van Beethoven (1770-1827)– Germany – Bridge from Classical into Romantic period
  • Had an unhappy childhood and mean father
  • Had a high regard for women, but never married
  • Loved nature
  • Became deaf around the age of 30
    • Was still able to compose after going deaf
  •  Ranked #3 among most prolific composers

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)– Germany – Baroque Period
  • Parents died when he was around 10 years old
  • Had 20 children (2 wives….first wife died)
  • A famous organist
  • Lived to be 65 and became blind shortly before his death
  • Dedicated all of his music to the glory of God
  • Ranked #1 among most prolific composers
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)– Italy – Baroque Period
  • He was an ordained priest, but spent most of his life composing and teaching at an orphanage for girls
  • His red hair earned him the nickname “The Red Priest”
  • His specialty was concertos, especially for violin
  • His most famous work is “The Four Seasons”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)– Austria – Classical Period
  • Child prodigy – played clavichord at age 3 and composed at an early age 
  • Ranked #2 among most prolific composers although he died at the young age of 35
  • Wrote the music for his own funeral. He was actually writing it for someone else
  •  He is buried somewhere in Vienna in a pauper’s grave
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)– Germany – Romantic Period
  • He was very close friends with Robert and Clara Schumann, noted composer and pianist, respectively, of the time
  • Ranked #4 among most prolific composers
  • He never married and died of cancer at the age of 63
George Gershwin (1898-1937) American – 20th Century
  • He was in New York, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants
  • Incorporated jazz music into classical compositions, such as “Rhapsody in Blue” and “An American in Paris”
  • He wrote many popular songs with his brother Ira
  • Died of a brain tumor at age 39
Aaron Copland (1900-1990) American – 20th Century
  • He gave his music a specifically American sound by incorporating elements of jazz and folk music
  • He was the most influential American composer of his time
  • His ballets, “Rodeo” and “Appalachian Spring” are very popular
  • He taught at Harvard and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize
Peter Tchaikovsky ((1840-1893) Russian – Romantic Period
  • He was a man of extreme temperaments which was reflected in his music
  • He completed studies to become a lawyer, but made music his profession instead
  • He was born to wealthy parents and attended boarding school, but never fully recovered from the death of his mother when he was 14
  • He is famous for his ballets, “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake”, the “1812 Overture” in which they shot cannons, and many other instrumental works