Whether it’s about a fugitive turkey, a mysterious message from the moon, a Sarcastic Fringehead Fish, or a teenage T. rex, Bruce Adolphe’s music written especially for families and schools captures the hearts and minds of audiences of all ages. As the New York Times put it: “Mr. Adolphe’s music, as agile and colorful as the creatures it describes, is highly sophisticated.”
Music for Family Concerts and Schools
This is fun, inspiring music written with the point of view that kids are great listeners, and that music for smart young people should connect to the world around them. That’s why Bruce Adolphe’s pieces are about everything from dinosaurs, ocean creatures, city life and democracy to the diaries of Paul Gauguin and Shakespeare’s magical characters.
For information on obtaining the following performance materials, please contact The Learning Maestros via Keiser Classical:
You may also want to visit the website of The Learning Maestros, an education company founded and directed by Bruce Adolphe and Julian Fifer. The works below are published by The Learning Maestros (TLM) and distributed by Lauren Keiser Music (LKM) unless otherwise noted.
For videos and more information about Bruce Adolphe’s family series Meet the Music! at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, visit the Society’s Meet the Music page.
Red Dogs and Pink Skies: A Musical Celebration
of Paul Gauguin (26 minutes)
A lush, colorful journey through French painter Paul Gauguin’s life and times in music, image and text. Performance materials include music, script and A dazzling, full-color workbook leads children and their parents through the painter’s life and work. Bruce Adolphe’s ravishing musical recording provides the counterpart for learning about art through music, and vice versa. See Media Page and click on playlist.
Tyrannosaurus Sue: A Cretaceous Concerto (25 minutes)
ob, clar, bsn, hn, tpt, tbn, strings, perc., with narration — may be performed with single strings or with orchestra.
Commissioned by the Chicago Chamber Musicians in 2000 for the unveiling of the amazing Tyrannosaurus Sue skeleton at the Field Museum in Chicago. A cretaceous coming of age story! Follow Sue, the world-famous T-rex, on her journey from birth to old age. Searching for food, chasing a parasaurolophus, battling a Triceratops! – it’s an action-packed musical adventure set 70 million years ago! This is one of the most popular works for children’s concerts around the globe — it has been performed by ensembles and orchestras from Utah to Lisbon. See Books and Recordings page.
Tough Turkey in the Big City: A Feathered Tale (30 minutes)
Commissioned by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Chamber Music Northwest
An upbeat, brassy, Thanksgiving odyssey! Tom, a turkey from the sticks, tours New York, stumbles onto the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and falls for a Park Avenue Pigeon. Ideal for Thanksgiving, this feathered tale entertains year-round. The bass trombone is the turkey! See Books and Recordings page.
The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses
Story by Paul Goble
For flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion, children’s voices (unison), narrator
Commissioned by Boston Musica Viva, Richard Pittman director and conductor
The beautiful Native American story, retold in the award-winning children’s book with illustrations by Paul Goble set to music with story-teller. Premiered by Boston Musica Viva, toured by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, presented by Off the Hook! and other organizations around the U.S. To hear two brief excerpts, visit the Media Page. One excerpt is an audio track; the other may be found in the Playlist in the video player.
Emma and the Blue Baku (one-act opera) 2017 Libretto by James M. Bradburne Premiered in December, 2017, at the Biblioteca Nazionale di Brera, Milan, Italy, by Ensemble della Civica Scuola di musica Claudio Abbado, conducted by Marcello Parolini, directed by Kuniaki Ida. Visit the Media Page to view the video of the premiere.
Bruce Adolphe’s Piano Puzzlers
as heard on Performance Today
On public radio stations throughout the country, Bruce Adolphe plays popular melodies disguised as pieces by great Classical composers – and contestants call in to guess the tune and the composer whose style Bruce is imitating. There are two books of 30 puzzlers each available as sheet music. If you play the piano, teach music, or are a classical music lover, this book of tunes is for you. Now you can play them at parties, in the classroom, as encores, or just to drive your neighbors crazy! See Books and Recordings page.
Witches, Wizards, Spells, and Elves: The Magic of Shakespeare (40 minutes)
fl, ob, clar, bsn, hn, tpt, tbn, strings, perc. plus actors. —may be performed with single strings or with orchestra.
Commissioned by and premiered by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the Chicago Chamber Musicians
For stories of witches, wizards, spells and elves, magic, mayhem, charms, and fairies, no writer can compare with William Shakespeare! Highlights from magical moments in Shakespeare’s plays are followed by short concertos inspired by those texts. The actors and the musicians get to shine in this magical work that introduces young audiences to the bard while it introduces musical instruments and ideas.
Carnival of the Creatures (2010)
For orchestra: 2 fl (2nd, picc.) 2 ob, 2 cl, 2 bsn, 4 hn, 2 tpt, 2 tbn, 1 bs tbn, timp, 3 perc, hp, strings; narrator
Poems by Bruce Adolphe
Premiered by the New Jersey Symphony
Features creatures: pterosaur; iguana; owl; shrimp; spider; shark; mudskipper; moratorium; virus; conductor; teddy bear; audience; unicorn. A comic, entertaining, and virtuosic carnival of musical creatures. While the structure is similar to the warhorse by Saint-Saëns, the creatures, poems, and music are a whole new world. Lots of fun and the entire orchestra gets to shine! Also performed at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival (2013).
The Purple Palace 2000 (25 minutes)|
Commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
The Purple Palace tells the story of the land of Chromatica, where everything is light and color. Queen Red and King Blue have a child, Princess Purple. When she becomes Queen of Chromatica, she banishes all colors but purple. This leads to nothing but trouble for her, and, after a series of calamities, she comes to understand her mistake. With the help of a bee from another kingdom, Purple invites all the banished colors to return, and Chromatica is once again vibrant with color. Beyond its’s affirmative social message for children about diversity and democracy, the story is rich in visual images that are clearly portrayed in the music. Each color has a theme, and as the plot unfolds, orchestral colors are varied and mixed just as an artist would use colors to illustrate the story in a book. Text by Louise Gikow.
Urban Scenes for String Quartet and Kids!
(time varies because of audience participation; approx. 20 minutes)
Commissioned by the Turtle Bay Music School
When is it appropriate to snore in a concert hall? During Urban Scenes, when the great snoring solo is performed by a kid from the audience. Kids also come up on stage and play car horns, sirens, birdcalls, and slide whistles — and they even speak lines as actors. All this is coordinated with the string quartet.
Farmony for String Quartet and Kids (plus a carrot)
(time varies because of audience participation; approx. 10 minutes)
The audience (of kids) learn their parts as chickens, ducks, cows, lambs, and more (including a carrot munching solo) and it all fits together with the string quartet music. It’s not just a farm and harmony…it’s farmony!
Little Red Riding Hood (16 minutes)
A fun and surprising version of the story for narrator, violin, viola, oboe, and piano. Even wolf fans like this one! Commissioned by An die Musik for Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who recorded the narration. available from CD Universe!
Goldilocks and the Three Bears (15 minutes)
Papa Bear is the cello, Mama Bear is the viola, and Baby Bear is the violin. Goldilocks is the oboe, and the piano ties it all together in this jazzy, funny version. With narrator. Commissioned by An die Musik for Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who recorded the narration. available from CD Universe! (on same CD with Little Red Riding Hood, above.)
Three Pieces for Kids and Orchestra
(15 minutes; time varies because of audience participation)
Commissioned by The 92nd Street Y School Music Program
Kids perform along with the orchestra in this highly interactive exploration of orchestral music-making.
The Amazing Adventure of Alvin Allegretto (50 minutes)
A one-act comic opera about a kid who won’t sing, no matter what! Commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, 1994. Premiered by the Metropolitan Opera Guild and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, 1994. TLM
Drumming a Dream (2009)
A 45-minute dance-theater-chamber music piece based on an Indian folktale.
Four dancers; clarinet, violin, cello, percussion.
Choreography by Preeti Vasudevan. Premiered at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in 2009, repeated by CMS in 2011. Also presented by the Asia Society, New York.
Oceanophony (30 minutes)
fl, clar, bsn, vln, vc, bs, perc., piano
Plunge into an ocean of music to meet a Puffer fish, Stoplight Parrotfish, a love-struck seahorse, an octopus, and more! Discover the mysterious world of coral music! Great ocean images are available from TLM.
Emma and the Blue Baku (30 minutes) One-act Opera; two sopranos, baritone, girls’ chorus (SSAA); piano, harpsichord, harp, marimba, vibraphone. Libretto by James Bradburne. World premiere: December 17, 2017, at the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense, Milan. Performed by Civica Scuola di Musica Claudio Abbado, conducted by Marcello Parolini, directed by Kuniaki Ida, designs by Angelo Lodi. Video coming soon.
Time Flies (20 minutes)
For chamber orchestra; based on the wordless picture book by Eric Rohmann. Commissioned by The Chicago Humanities Festival, 2004. Premiered by Fulcrum Point new music ensemble at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, 2004. Performance scheduled for April, 2006, at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.