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Young People's Concert

Quiz Concert: How Musical Are You?

Written by Leonard Bernstein
Original CBS Television Network Broadcast Date: 26 May 1968


My dear young friends: This is a very special occasion, a most unusual one. Because this is the first time in all our eleven years of Young People's programs that we are running a music quiz of any kind - and, I believe, it's the first time anybody has in the history of television. Now quizzes are funny things: there are people who love them and people who loathe them; to one person you only have to mention the word "quiz" and he runs to the nearest exit: and another person will respond with "Yippee! A game! Can't wait!" I suppose the difference is between those people who are madly eager to show off what they know and those others who are scared at the thought of being exposed as ignorant.

Well, this quiz is intended for neither type, because it will have very little to do with knowledge - that is, with straight information on composers, titles, themes, dates, that sort of thing. What it will have mostly to do with is musicality - that is how sensitive you are to music, how much you really like it, how deeply it gets to you, how alert your ears are, and how much they retain of what they hear. Of course there'll have to be some questions involving knowledge: no quiz could exist without them; but the emphasis will be on the enjoyment of music, and for that reason I hope this quiz will turn out to be enjoyable even if it is a sort of test. But it won't be like a school test. Now all you need for this quiz is a sheet of paper and a pencil; those of you here in the hall have already been furnished with same, and those of you viewing on television have exactly 60 seconds to equip yourselves with same, while we mark time musically with the following:

Now that you've got your paper and pencil, may I say you don't have to write down a thing about that music we just played. I will just tell you straight out that it was the end of Brahms First Symphony, the last 60 seconds of it. I don't expect all of you to have known that - or even most of you; but I do hope you got this much out of it:

ONE : That it's the end of something: that's fairly obvious, right?
TWO : That it's probably the end of a symphony or some very large, grand piece.
THREE : That it's probably a German symphony, because of its very German seriousness.
FOUR : That it's not what's known as early music, it couldn't be because of the size and richness of that orchestra. Nor can it be late Romantic music, like Richard Strauss or Mahler, because the orchestra isn't that enormous, or fancy. And it certainly can't be modern music. So you'd probably place it somewhere between classical and romantic - let's say, Beethoven or Brahms. And if you guessed Brahms, without knowing the piece, you were simply brilliant. And if you didn't, no hard feelings. You were probably too busy looking for a pencil. Anyway, that's the sort of detective work I hope you'll be doing during this quiz.

Now we're ready to begin. We're going to start by playing you an entire piece, only 4 minutes long. It's a very famous piece, so those of you who know it will recognize it immediately, and bully for you. But if you do recognize it, please don't yell out the answer - because it will spoil everyone else's fun. And those of you who don't know it - which I guess is most of you - will have a chance, during the course of the music, to guess at five answers regarding it: -- now write these down -- the composer's name, the composers nationality, his approximate dates. Am I going too fast for you? Name, nationality, dates. The style of the music, and, if possible, the form of the music. Repeat: composer, nationality, period, style, and form. Of course, if you also guess the name of the piece, that's gravy. By style what I mean is the most general interpretation of that word, like baroque, classical, romantic, dixieland, impressionistic, twelve-tone, rhythm and blues, whatever. By form I am referring to any musical form you can think of - sonata form, three-part song form, variations, a chain of waltzes, even a free fantasy, which is no particular form at all. You see, what really interests me is the response of those of you who don't recognize the piece - who don't know it, and who will arrive at your answers by instinct, or by that process of elimination that I showed you just now in that bit by Brahms.

But above all I'm relying on your general musicality, your natural musical-ness. So roll up your sleeves and tune up your ears.

All right. Now I'm going to tell you the answers, and you can keep your score by simply awarding yourselves one point for each correct answer you made. The composer's name is Mozart. Good, good, good. Nationality - Austrian. I can see a lot of you said German, but that's understandable. Approximate date - late 18th century. A very happy audience, I'm pleased. You're very bright. Now the music, which, by the way, was the overture to Mozart's opera "The Marriage of Figaro", is in a style known as classical, and the form of the overture is strict classical sonata form - which means that it has an exposition and a recapitulation where the themes of the exposition are restated. You remember all that from our program on Sonata Form? Now between the exposition and the recapitulation should have come a development section. Remember about the development section? But there wasn't any, and that's the only thing in this sonata-form piece that is not strict.

All right. That's enough of the information department; now I want to test your powers of observation to see how closely you were listening to that music. Here come five more questions about the music just heard. And just jot down the questions, not the answers: and remember, if you know the answers, keep them to yourselves.
ONE: How many trombones were used in this piece? Just jot down "how many trombones" or "trombones" - short hand.
TWO: Did the piano have a solo to play during the recapitulation? Just jot down "piano solo".
THREE: Was that percussion instrument a tambourine or a snare drum? Just write "tambourine, snare drum, percussion". Whatever you want, just to remind yourself.
FOUR: Mozart's opera THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO is supposed to be famous for tunes everyone can whistle. Can you whistle the opening tune from the overture? Just write down "whistle."
FIVE: Where in this overture did Mozart use slow music for contrast? Just write "slow music."

Now I'm going to leave you for a minute or so to give you time to mull these questions and jot down your answers. Think hard; I'll be right back.

Hello again: if you're ready with your answers, so am I. All of those five questions were trick questions as some of you may have found out, but I wonder how many of you saw the tricks.

The first answer about the trombones is this: There are, of course, no trombones at all in Mozart's overture. If your ears didn't tell you that, your eyes should have. You saw them sitting doing nothing.
Second: About that piano solo. Not only didn't the piano have a solo part, but there was no piano part at all.
Third: The only percussion instrument used by Mozart is the timpani, or kettledrums - nothing resembling a tambourine or snare drum, or a washboard or anything.
Fourth: If you can whistle the opening theme, you're either some sort of genius or a great vaudeville act, because it's next to impossible.

Absolutely out of the question. And fifth: Mozart used slow music by not writing any at all; the overture is a whirlwind from beginning to end. There you are. Now those were five very sneaky questions. Sorry about that. But okay, score yourself one point for each correct answer. Which means that the best score anyone could have so far is ten: and thus ends Part I of our quiz.

Now for Part Two, which is called "What's Wrong With This Picture?" You know those puzzles they used to run in the Sunday newspapers, "What's wrong with this picture?" Well, this part of the quiz is like that. It will test your eyes as well as your ears, so heads up! We're going to play you five bits of that same Mozart overture, and in each bit there will be something very obviously wrong, which you will usually be able to detect by sight. Here we go - and I want you to be all eyes and all ears.

I'm going to give you five seconds to write your answer. Time's up. Now, obviously, what was wrong was the conductor. Because I was very clearly beating in 3 music which very clearly goes in 2.

One, two, one, two. And I was beating:

It was like, it was patting your stomach or whatever it is. You see--very wrong indeed. All right. Let's go on to the next one.

One, two, three, four, five. Time's up. What was wrong that time? Well, what was wrong was, again, the conductor, me. Because I was happily making gestures at the violins during 4 bars in which they had nothing at all to play. All right, next:

Oh, that was really too obvious. That's not fair. Everybody got that. But as you realize, I again was the culprit, conducting very softly music that's very loud. Anyone who didn't get that, deduct 169 points, and now on to the next:

How about that? Don't tell me, I'll tell you. This time I was all right, but the orchestra wasn't. There was a very odd sound during that bit, and it was, of course of all things -- What? -- right, a saxophone -- which we had cunningly planted in the woodwind section, playing along with the flute. Would you like to meet him? Now the saxophone wasn't invented until fifty years after Mozart died, so that sound had to be wrong; but even if you didn't know when the saxophone was invented, your musical instinct should have told you that the sound of a saxophone just doesn't belong in Mozart.

And now, a grand final wrongness, to which I'm not even going to give you the answer -- it's so obvious you'll know it right away. And I just can't resist doing it, it's such fun.

Wow, how wrong can we get?! But if you weren't wrong on these last five questions, you've now got five more points on your score card.

All right. Now that you're all indoctrinated into the secrets of form, style, beating, cueing, and orchestration, I have a very serious Part 3 coming up. We're going to play you another short piece. And again, we're going to ask you to determine, or recognize, or guess at the same five answers as with the Mozart overture: name of composer, his nationality, and his approximate historical period - plus the style of the music, and its form. Those same five.

Now this piece will have many things in common with that Mozart overture: it's about the same length, it's in the same key and there are lots of other resemblances I won't go into: I don't want to give it away. But I warn you: there's a trick here. So, listen hard and let's see what your ears tell you.

Charming piece, isn't? But a tricky one, because in spite of its sounding just like Mozart, this music was written 128 years after Mozart died. It's really a kind of take-off on Mozart and Haydn and company. All right, I won't keep you in suspense anymore. What we played was the first movement of the so-called CLASSICAL SYMPHONY by the modern Russian composer Prokofieff. Now how does that jibe with your first three answers: Name, Prokofieff; nationality, Russian; approximate period, early twentieth century. Surprised? And the style: not classical, but neo-classical. Now that may be a hard word for those of you who haven't studied music, but it's really easy to understand. It means classical in style, but modern in treatment - therefore "neo-classical." As for the form, it was good old strict classical sonata form, just like the Mozart overture, only this time even including a development section.

All right. That's five more points and that ends Part Three of our quiz. Anyone who has answered every question correctly so far must now have a score of twenty, and that person will someday be the conductor of the New York Philharmonic. And now I'm going to let the orchestra rest a while, and toss you a series of pitches from the piano - some slow balls, and some fast, and some curves.

The name of this game is "True or False." I'm going to make ten statements, each one followed by a little example on the piano; and you are to write true or false for each statement. Is that clear? OK, here goes!

ONE: This is a major scale. [PLAY: g minor]
TWO: This is a major scale. [PLAY: mixolydian mode in g]
THREE: This is a waltz. [PLAY: Bizet - Carmen: Habanera]
FOUR: This is a waltz. [PLAY: J. Strauss - Vienna Wood in 2/4]
FIVE: This is a waltz. [PLAY: R. Strauss - Rosenkavalier Waltzes]
SIX: The following two phrases are absolutely identical. One:


True or false?

SEVEN: All sad music is in the minor, like this sad song:

True or false.

EIGHT: this music was written, was written to be a television commercial about a detergent:

"Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Hammerschmidt -- Could you maybe lend me a little detergent? Mrs. Laufersweiler, please come in --- borrowing like this is just a sin ..." True or false.

NINE: This music was written especially to be the theme-music of the Huntley-Brinkley Report

And finally -

TEN: This music was written expressly to be the theme of a television program called "Dragnet".

Game's over. Let's check your score. Of ten statements, the first four were all false, the fifth was true; the next four were all false, and the last one was true. If you didn't do as well as you hoped, don't be upset, because this is a kind of speed test, after all; and they were all mostly fast pitches and there were lots of curves too. For instance, the first statement that I made "This is a major scale" - that was easy because it was obviously a minor scale

You probably all got that. But the second one sounded very much like a major scale,

only it wasn't: it was the mixolydian mode - remember that from our program last year on modes? Then out of the three waltz questions that followed, only the last one was really a waltz - the famous one from "Rosenkavalier".

But the other two were "The Habanera" from "Carmen"

which is no waltz at all, but a tango of a sort. And then there was a very tricky one, because the other was a Strauss waltz-tune, "Tales from the Vienna Woods", only played in 2/4 time!

And no waltz can go in 2/4 time; it has to go in 3/4 time. As for that melody I played twice in a row

it was definitely altered the second time around, that third note.

And then, of course, the famous Beatles song is not in the minor at all but in the major, sad though it may be. Nothing could be more major than that.

And the detergent commercial, of course, was really Tchaikovsky's "Waltz of the Flowers" from the "Nutcracker Suite", and it was not written especially for that detergent commercial.

and the Huntley-Brinkley music was not written for that either. It's really the Scherzo from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Right?

It was only the "Dragnet" Theme that was written to be the "Dragnet" Theme. Now of course, I didn't expect you to know all these peculiar facts, only to be able to identify the statement as true or false, by instinct or whatever other means you have. And if you did, you've earned ten more points. So, the maximum possible score now is 30. Now, while I have the piano handy, I'd like to take a moment for the benefit of those among you who do have some knowledge about music, and are dying to show it off. There are brainy ones here, I'm sure, who feel very condescended to. We're making everything too easy. So we'll give you a break. Take your pencils, brainy ones. Here are ten short questions about musical terms.

ONE: What is this called?

TWO: This has got to go fast, I warn you. What word describes the distance between any two notes - for instance between this note and this note, or between this note and this note? Same word describes both.

THREE: Here are a bunch of notes all at once.

What do you call that?

FOUR: Here are the same bunch of notes again, only not all at once.

What do you call that?
FIVE: What is the musical term for what I'm doing now?

SIX: What is the musical term for what I'm doing now?

Too easy.

SEVEN: Here's a note C. Here's another note C. What's the difference?

EIGHT: What is the name for this kind of scale?

NINE: What's the word for this stunt?

TEN: and last. If I play an accompaniment in one key and the tune in another key

what word is used to describe this phenomenon. OK - that's it, time's up; check your list. The answers are:
















getting louder. And of course

SIX is diminuendo or decrescendo, getting softer and



octave higher



chromatic scale



glissando. You're learning.



TEN: bitonality

Brother, there's a mouthful. Anyone with those ten words in his vocabulary can be the life of the party. Imagine being able to say, "Didn't you just adore the chromatic bitonality of that crescendo arpeggio?" It'll get you very far in life. Anyway, the maximum possible score is now 40.

And enough with the terminology, back to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, which has been loafing for ten minutes. Awake, gentlemen! Time for Rimsky-Korsakov. We're going to play part of his brilliant Capriccio Espagnol, or Spanish Caprice. And here we have another case of a Russian composer writing un-Russian music, just as Prokofieff did in his CLASSICAL SYMPHONY. Now this Spanish Caprice is famous for being one of the great landmarks of orchestration: it really tests an orchestra, and has lots of difficult solos for individual players. Now the part we're going to play, which is the final section, starts with a series of free, improvised-sounding passages which are called cadenzas, which show off different members of the orchestra or groups within the orchestra. Your job now is to keep track of these five cadenzas, writing down the instruments that are playing them. And then we'll check on you afterwards.

[ORCH: Rimsky-Korsakov - Capriccio Espagnol]

Pretty flashy stuff, isn't it? Those players sure aren't loafing now. Well, here now are the five answers regarding those cadenzas - and I'll bet you got more right this time than you have so far on the whole quiz. First: there was a cadenza for brass instruments only - trumpets and French horns accompanied by a roll on the snare drum. But you don't have to have said that. Second: a cadenza for the solo violin that was fairly obvious. The third cadenza was for flute alone. The fourth for clarinet alone, and the fifth and last cadenza was for the harp. Good. Now the maximum possible total is now 45 points. Now I'll tell you what we're going to do. We're going to repeat those cadenzas we just played -- now that you know the instruments in advance -- so that you can just listen and relax and enjoy the music without having to worry about taking a test. Then we'll simply keep going past the harp cadenza, going on through this Spanish Fandango, right to the end of the piece. You don't have any further worries about questions to be answered. Of course, if you should notice, as we go along, a chromatic scale here, a glissando there, I won't mind at all.

[ORCH: Rimsky-Korsakov - Capriccio Espagnol]

Wait, wait, wait. I have one more question to ask you - the most important one of all, and this one is worth five premium points: Did you enjoy it?


© 1968, Amberson Holdings LLC.
All rights reserved.

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