Kids' Commute: The Carnival of the Animals

Jun 3, 2015

Hear "The Carnival of the Animals" this week on Kids' Commute!

It’s the final week of the school year! It’s become a tradition here on the Kids’ Commute to celebrate the last week of school with The Carnival of the Animals, by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. We’ll hear Leonard Bernstein conduct, and also describe every movement of the musical suite for us. Let’s jump right in!

The Carnival of the Animals was written in 1886. The piece is a sort of zoo, where Camille Saint-Saëns describes all sorts of different animals musically! Saint-Saëns wrote the music for his friends to enjoy, but also to give young musicians something fun to play. 


So, throughout the zoological romp this week, we’ll hear 7 young people performing alongside the string section of the New York Philharmonic.

Today, Leonard Bernstein introduces us to the next three movements in this wonderful piece of music. First we visit the aquarium where the trickling water is described by long piano runs. The gliding of the fish inside the aquarium is portrayed for us by a smooth melody featuring the strings and flute. Also, a few more drops of water sprinkle off the Glockenspiel which sounds like little bells.

Next, Saint-Saëns brings us to a cage marked, “Persons with Long Ears,” which is how he describes donkeys. Finally, we are brought to the Cuckoo bird, who sings a rather monotonous tune. 

What’s your favorite animal group today? 

Here's a nice video of the aquarium portion of the musical suite:

Music piece for today:
Various animals from The Carnival of the Animals performed by the New York Philharmonic and conducted by Leonard Bernstein

Listen to the Kids’ Commute live on Classical IPR every weekday morning at 7:40am or listen to the archived episode at the top of the post.