Kids' Commute: Mother Goose Suite - Conversations of Beauty and the Beast

May 21, 2015

Learn about the Maurice Ravel's "Mother Goose Suite," this week on the Kids' Commute!

This week on the Kids’ Commute, we’re exploring the Mother Goose Suite, by Maurice Ravel. We’ll hear David Ogden Stiers narrate some of the text from the stories of Mother Goose, and get to listen to the music associated with each story...Sleeping Beauty, Tom Thumb, Beauty and the Beast, and more! 

So, are you ready for some stories? 

French composer Maurice Ravel wrote the Mother Goose Suite in 1910. 

He took several fairy tales, and then wrote the related music not for children to just listen to, but to perform. The suite of music was originally written as a piano duet for two children named Mimi and Jean, ages 6 and 7.


Yesterday, we talked about Laideronnette, Empress of the Pagodas. It’s about a woman and a serpent who are very ugly on the outside, but very beautiful on the inside. And remember, it was their love for each other that broke the spell of ugliness that had been cast over them.

Well as it turns out, that theme is pretty common in fairy tales. Take for example Beauty and the Beast. Beauty was sent to live with a terrifying Beast, who was also secretly a wonderful person. It’s Beauty’s love for the Beast that breaks the spell of the Beast and his ugliness and returns him to his princely form.

Now, composer Maurice Ravel has built in musical themes for all these characters and the events that take place. So, first listen for music that describes Beauty, which is understandably beautiful. Next, listen for music that describes the Beast, which is very low and somewhat foreboding. After a brief pause, listen for a long section of music that describes Beauty declaring her love for the Beast. When that happens, their two different themes of music combine into one!

Let’s listen to listen to David Ogden Stiers narrate a section of Beauty and the Beast. Then we’ll hear the music to go along with the story!

Music piece for today:
Conversations of Beauty and the Beast by Maurice Ravel, performed by Nina Flyer, and Chie Nagatani

Check out this fun video of Conversations of Beauty and the Beast…

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.