MUSIC - The Firebird Suite (1911) by Igor Stravinsky
Use the CBBC Ten Pieces link below to listen to the music, watch the video of Claudia Winkleman introducing the ballet and the history behind it.
Listen to this piece of music, which is actually the finale from the ballet. Stravinsky wrote this music for a large orchestra, with many instruments, and by the end of this piece you can hear them all playing. However, it begins quietly and, as each instrument enters, the dynamics get louder and louder. In music, this is called a crescendo.
Identify the trumpet that enters towards the end of the piece. The trumpet is often used in a fanfare, which is a short piece of music used to announce something – an event or a person. In this case, the trumpet is announcing that Prince Ivan and Tsarevna are getting married. Fanfares are very often celebratory pieces of music and are usually played by brass instruments.
Explain how Stravinsky uses a technique called repetition to help build up the happy atmosphere and to get everybody excited. You can hear the melody played on brass instruments, which is repeated again and again. In music, this is also called a ‘sequence’
Create a short piece of music based on a celebration. Which events in your own lives have you celebrated, or have helped to celebrate (birthdays, other people’s weddings, end of term, winning a race at sport’s day, etc)? Note in particular the triangle used at the end of ‘The Firebird’ – the constant ringing of this instrument is a very celebratory sound. Create a simple melody (either with instruments (online or anything you can use at home, a homemade shaker for example or use your voices) and repeat this, at different speeds and volumes, to help build up the piece of music.
Investigate - Take a look at music for other ballets, also written by Stravinsky. What other stories did he use? Did they all have happy endings? Other composers wrote music for ballets too – can you name any?
ART - create your own firebirds with any art materials you have at home.
Watch the video of illustrator and author James Mayhew (on the link below) and how he created his own art work after listening to The Firebird Suite and then have a go yourself! You can upload it to the BBC Ten Pieces website if you would like to and to Tapestry.