The Orchestra Rocks with Themes
Aim: How do composers use different rhythmic themes for expressive purposes?
Summary: Students listen to the major themes of the Finale from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and invent creative movements to express the music.
Standards: National 4, 7; NYC 2, 3, 4
Listening for Themes in Symphony No. 4
- Listen to Track 42 Finale from Symphony No. 4.
- What different moods do you hear in this music?
- Listen for the main theme that is introduced in the woodwinds about 15 seconds from the beginning.
- Listen to Track 16 “In the Field Stood a Birch Tree” (vocal).
- Using call and response, learn this melody on a neutral syllable (e.g., “la”), without lyrics. (Remember, the students learn the theme in a lower key than Tchaikovsky uses in Symphony No. 4.)
- Listen to Track 42 again and focus on how Tchaikovsky varies this theme throughout the movement.
- What is different about how we sang the melody and how the orchestra plays it?
- How does the main theme change throughout the movement?
- How does Tchaikovsky use different instruments, dynamics, and rhythms to change the mood of the theme?
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Famous Russian composer and conductor Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky visited the United States in 1891 to conduct Carnegie Hall’s very first opening night concert.