20 Classical Music Pieces For Grandkids

Introduce your grandchildren to some of the most beautiful music

By Jay Akasie

Recently, classical music has become a marketing sensation, aimed at making babies smarter. But longtime fans of the music have always known that exposure to the great works was uplifting, educational, and fun. Whether or not listening to classical music will make your grandbaby smarter, it's never too early to introduce your little ones to classical music. By the time they're teenagers, they might invite you to a concert.

toddlers

1. "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" (1787)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
This piece, scored for a string quartet, is a good place to start with the vast and marvelous collection of works by Mozart. He was a child prodigy, and although he wrote "A Little Night Music" as an adult, it’s soothing and simple enough for tots.
2. "Colonel Bogey March" (1914)
Kenneth Alford
Composed during World War I, this march became popular after it served as the theme of the Academy Award-winning 1957 motion picture, The Bridge Over the River Kwai. The infectious melody encourages kids to whistle or hum along. And it gets them ready for playing marches, often their first effort in the school band.
3. "Lullaby" (1868)
Johannes Brahms
There are countless versions and recordings of this famous tune. You hummed it to your kids; they're humming it to theirs. Brahms wrote it for a friend who wanted a song to soothe her baby to sleep.

children

4. Overture to The Magic Flute (1791)
W.A. Mozart
This overture, from Mozart's last and most beguiling opera, introduces your grandchildren to a world of fantasy characters as enticing as those in the Harry Potter series. They’ll especially love Papageno, the hilarious bird-catcher who often steals the show.
5. "Minuet" from the Anna Magdalena Bach Book (1725)
Johann Sebastian Bach
Bach, one of the most renowned composers of all time, was a caring husband and an involved parent and grandparent. He wrote this fun book of tunes to help his wife, Anna Magdalena, master the harpsichord.
6. The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (1946)
Benjamin Britten
Britten uses variations on British composer Henry Purcell's 17th-century theme to demonstrate the elements of a modern symphony orchestra. Every instrument gets a chance to shine, and they all come together in a marvelous finale.
7. "Hallelujah Chorus" from Messiah (1741)
George Frideric Handel
The chorus is only one part of an oratorio that’s popularly performed at Christmastime. The audience stands during the singing of the "Hallelujah Chorus" because, as the story goes, England's King George II was so overcome with emotion with this rousing selection that he leaped out of his seat. And in those days, when the king stood up, so did all his subjects.
8. Overture to William Tell (1829)
Gioachino Rossini
The trumpet lick and the galloping tempo near the end of this piece will make children dream of being on horseback. In fact, this kid-perfect tune is the one you might remember as the introduction to the Lone Ranger show on radio and TV.
9. "Spring" and "Winter" from The Four Seasons (1725)
Antonio Vivaldi
It's fun for kids to listen to the way Vivaldi used elements of his concertos to mimic what he heard in nature. In "Winter," they'll hear icicles melting; in "Spring," they'll hear flowers blooming.

Next page: Our selections for Tweens and Teens »

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