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Benjamin Britten:
Pizzicato and Other Musical Terms

Pizzicato is the Italian word for “plucked” -- it tells string players how to play their instruments at a given spot in the music. A lot of musical "traffic signals" are in Italian. This show has explanations and examples of some more of them.

For a fun description of some musical terms and expressions, check out this artwork by comic book illustrator Justin Green.

Music heard in this episode:
Britten: Simple Symphony: Playful Pizzicato
Rossini: Barber of Seville: Piano, Pianissimo
Tchaikovsky: Symphony #5
Rossini: Barber of Seville: Overture
Rossini: Barber of Seville: Thunderstorm
Handel: Largo
Barber: Adagio
Weber: Andante e Rondo
Fiocco: Allegro
Poulenc: Presto
Hummel: Trumpet Concerto

Other shows about Benjamin Britten:
About Benjamin Britten
The Simple Symphony
The Instruments of the Orchestra - Part 1
The Instruments of the Orchestra - Part 2

Download this month's activity sheet

About Benjamin Britten
11/22/1913 - 12/4/1976
Born in Great Britain

Benjamin Britten was an expert in three different musical fields -- conducting, composing and playing the piano. Britten was born in Lowestoft, a town on the English seacoast. (His birthday, November 22nd, happens to be the saint day of the patron saint of music, St. Cecilia.) Benjamin's father was a dentist; his mother loved to sing, and regularly held concerts in their home.

From the moment he started playing the piano, Britten knew he wanted to earn his living as a composer. His first paying job was writing music for films.

Britten was a pacifist -- he didn't believe in fighting wars. So when it became obvious that England would go to war with Germany in 1939, Britten left for America. But it was impossible to take the "Brit" out of Britten. In the middle of World War II, he sailed back to his native country.

When the war was over, the biggest opera company in England held a gala reopening, and commissioned Britten to write a new opera for the occasion. Britten was also asked to compose an opera when Elizabeth II was crowned Queen of England.

See other composers born in Great Britain


This Week's Quiz:

1. What is the Italian word for soft?






2.What does crescendo mean?

Slowing down

Getting louder




3. What word tells you to play short, sharp notes?







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