The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music celebration: Here is commencement music to honor graduates — and their teachers — of all kinds. All the best from The Ear

May 15, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

This weekend is graduation/commencement at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I attended graduate school and where I now teach journalism. Other schools will hold their similar events over the next month.

I have terrific students, and some of them will be graduating at the ceremonies in Camp Randall stadium (below). So I want to use today’s post to honor them.

But I also want to honor  teachers of all kinds. I was lucky and had great teacher in elementary school, junior high school (now middle school), high school, college and graduate school.

And yes, I know that some teachers rest on their laurels or are burned out or are ineffective — though, I suspect, no more so than a lot of administrators who wanted out of the hard job of being in the classroom each and every day.

So I hope this music honors not only  students but also the teachers who taught them.

And I hope teachers are not  too discouraged or disheartened from the bashing they’ve received lately lately in the press and in political circles who wants reform and blame the failure of public schools more on them than on shrinking budgets, absent or indifferent parents and a society that clearly values and rewards many things much more than it does education.

So here are my top choices, thought hey are hardly original. But I hope you find them as moving as I still do.

First comes Sir Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” March No. 1, the long-time standard graduation march with a choral twist I find as moving as it is unexpected:

And second, the “Academic Festival Overture,” written by Brahms to celebrate his receiving a an honorary degree and performed by a famous conductor who owed his career to recognizing this music when he was auditioning for a post and was presented with its score by Fritz Reiner:

Are there other pieces of classical music that celebrate education and commencement or graduation that you can recommend?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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