If you regularly read the Babyology music reviews, you more than likely think my music collection is pure pop. Not so. One of my most favourite things is opera (with a particular penchant for Puccini) and I haven’t missed an opera season for over twenty years. Until recently, I was not convinced that classical music had to be ‘broken down’ for kids – I figure just play some and see if they like it. However I changed my mind when I heard Beethoven’s Wig.
The title of the latest album from Beethoven’s Wig, Sing Along Piano Classics, may have classical music purists trembling but as Beethoven himself once said, “If my music had words, it’d be a lot more popular.” Lyricist Richard Perlmutter has put words to some of the world’s greatest music and the result is jolly good fun and a memorable introduction to classical music for children.
The album is essentially in two parts – the first part introduces thirteen well known classical piano pieces with funny and catchy lyrics added. The second part is those same pieces played as the composer originally intended (that is, minus Perlmutter’s ditties).
The album opens with Mozart’s Sonata in C Major which, given the Perlmutter treatment, becomes the La De Da Sonata. It’s catchy and you can’t help but sing along. Likewise the instantly recognisable Alla Turca becomes Mozart Makes Kids Smart and because the music is so well known (and you’re very smart), you pick up the words quickly.
Despite the original intention of Brahm’s Lullaby, Beethoven’s Wig has turned it into an ode to insomnia, I Can’t Sleep. The singer reveals that he can’t get to sleep because a fly is buzzing around the room but as the complaints continue, the music slows and lulls the singer to sleep.
I have fond memories of ‘playing’ Joplin’s ragtime classic, The Entertainer, on my parent’s pianola. It’s included on the album with a ‘barber-shop’ quartet singing about a piano stuck in a door – it’s good fun but the standout for me is Debussy’s Clair de Lune. I very much like this piece of music and admittedly listened to the Beethoven’s Wig version, Voyage to the Moon, with some trepidation. I needn’t have been concerned – realistic ‘astronaut sound effects’ are spliced with a majestic song, performed by soprano Elin Carlson and tenor Jonathan Mack. It’s beautiful and does the music justice in every way.
Beethoven’s Wig: Sing Along Piano Classics and other classical albums by Beethoven’s Wig are available on iTunes for $16.99 each.