We study many classical musicians who lived years before many of you can even imagine. Did you know that there are still musicians who write classical music today? Robert Xavier Rodriguez is one such musician.
Robert Xavier Rodríguez was born on June 28, 1946 in San Antonio, Texas, where he received his earliest training in piano and harmony. He began taking piano lessons at the age of 6. He could learn the piano music that his teacher gave him and then make up his own to go along with it. He says, “to me, that was the natural thing to do.” He had no idea that he was doing something very special when he was playing around with the keys on the piano.
Today’s listening example is a musical story about Orville and Wilbur Wright. Flight: The Story of Wilbur and Orville Wright was commissioned by the Dayton Philharmonic, in honor of the 2003 centennial of the Wright Brothers’ first flight. The text, by Sukey Smith, was inspired by the Wright Brothers’ letters and journals.
The narrator portrays the Wright Brothers’ younger sister, Katharine Wright. She recounts her brothers’ childhood dreams of flight, their early experiments, her fears for their safety and their eventual triumph. In Today’s listening example, you’ll hear a letter written to her by her brothers about their first successful flight.
Robert Xavier Rodriguez is a 20th century American composer. That means, he is composing right now and is still living today! He, currently, lives in Texas and is the head of the music department at the University of Texas in Dallas.
In an interview, Rodriguez stated that his first piece ever performed by an orchestra was when he was in college. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra was “auditioning” pieces by new composers. The conductor had already stopped the orchestra, in the middle of a piece, and thrown the music down yelling, “ENOUGH!” His piece was next. The conductor misread the music and started the piece wrong. Robert just couldn’t stand it! He stopped the conductor, and the whole orchestra, and made them restart it the right way!
A pinata is a traditional Mexican game played at celebrations of all kinds. Usually, a pinata is in the shape of an animal and is filled with candy and treats for kids to enjoy once the pinata is broken open. Watch the video to see a child breaking open a pinata.
Today’s listening example is the song “Pinata” by Robert Xavier Rodriguez. This song gives you the image of a pinata at a party. At first, the song is exciting and fast paced to represent the child hitting the pinata. Then, the music softens and slows to represent the swaying of the pinata after it has been hit.