This week on Lunch with the Composers we’ll be listening to music by an American composer and arranger Ferde Grofe (1892-1972). Grofe was born in New York City to Emil and Elsa Grofe. He came from a musical family. Both of his parents were professional musicians – his father was a baritone and his mother was a professional cellist. Elsa’s father was also a professional cellist and performed with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York. Ferde’s mother taught him to play the violin and piano, and he later studied viola, baritone horn, alto horn, and cornet. His ability to play such a variety of instruments made him well-prepared for his work as a composer and arranger.
Grofe’s arrangements of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for jazz orchestra and for full orchestra gained him great respect as a jazz musician. This week, we’ll be listening to his most well known original composition – The Grand Canyon Suite (1931). We’ll be listening to one of the five movements – “On the Trail.” You will probably recognize the main tune which occurs a couple minutes into the piece. The last movement, “Cloudburst,” is written to sound like a thunderstorm. You may want to look that one up if your kids enjoy “On the Trail”
This piece would be perfect background music while drawing or painting scenes from the Old West! I’m planning to have the boys draw while they listen this week.