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Go Back To School with Classical California!

Photo by Kenny Eliason via Unsplash

Its that time of year again; a new term, back to school shopping, seeing old friends and making new ones!

A brand new school year needs a brand new playlist….but with a twist of nostalgia. Here’s a century-spanning collection of school-inspired music that will rival anything you’ll experience in your history class. From 1774, to classics your parents and grandparents will recall, to this year’s hottest game; it’s a well balanced curriculum from Classical California!

Franz Joseph Haydn’s publisher gave symphony #55 its scholastic nickname, “The Schoolmaster.” According to musicologists, Haydn did write a separate piece, a divertimento which he called “Der Schulmeister” and the publisher may have gotten the two works confused, which provides a good lesson as we return to the classroom: always check your work before you hand it in!

In this beloved school film from 1989, Professor John Keating’s (Robin Williams) classroom antics seem rather quaint in 2023, but the score by Maurice Jarre still sounds fresh 34 years later. Dead Poets Society won a British Academy Award (BAFTA) for Best Original Score.

Gustav Holst was the music teacher at St. Paul’s School for Girls in Hammersmith London from 1905 until his death in 1934. In 1913, St. Paul’s opened a newly constructed music wing with sound-proof spaces for performance and instruction, and Professor Holst composed this suite to commemorate the occasion and no doubt delighting the young musicians who performed the premiere.

Math and Music at The Movies!  “My boy’s wicked smart,” and the score by Danny Elfman is wicked good! Elfman’s collaboration with director Gus Van Sant for Good Will Hunting captured an Oscar nomination for Best Score and Best Original Song.

Phys Ed has been a part of US school curriculum since 1853, and dancing definitely qualifies! Morton Gould composed his Concerto for Tap Dancer and Orchestra in 1953. Gould wrote the tap part as if it were performed by a percussionist, leaving the actual steps up to the soloist. Choreographing your own routine to match the beats deserves Extra Credit!

Hey parents, here’s a fun game….ask your kids how they are enjoying their Phonics/Elocution class, and thoroughly enjoy the blank looks on their faces!
In the film classic Singin’ in the Rain (1952) character actor Bobby Watson attempts to school Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in elocution, and gets schooled right back!

Keyboard Skills have given way to thumbs-only texting dexterity, but there was a time in the Long, Long Ago when learning the QUERTY keyboard was a part of the school day. In 1950, Leroy Anderson wrote this piece for what can now be considered an “ancient instrument,” the typewriter.

Brush up your Shakespeare with the students from the Chineke! Junior Orchestra, a youth ensemble of Black and ethnically diverse players aged 11-22 based in the UK. Here they are performing Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Othello Suite.

Did you get your Hogwarts Letter!? Step into the enchanting world of Hogwarts Legacy, featuring the Original Game Soundtrack! Immerse yourself in the serene and cozy scenes of Hogwarts during the early hours of an autumn day, as the sun gently rises over the castle spires. From the soft rustling of leaves to the distant chatter of students preparing for their day, this ambience video offers the perfect background noise for relaxation and study. Grab a mug of butterbeer, crack open a tome, and enter this bastion of Magical Education.

What is your favorite part of heading back to school?
Share your thoughts in the comments below, especially if you have a favorite piece of Back To School music.


Written by:
Maggie Clennon Reberg
Maggie Clennon Reberg
Published on 08.15.2023