50+ Must-Hear Classical Music Pieces for Kids

I am a musician by heart. I have loved music, I think from the moment I heard it. And I grew up with music all around me from the time I was tiny, which I am sure impacted and fed that love. My parents love music too, and they made sure my siblings and I had a very rich musical environment and a great musical education. I am grateful for that, because music is such an important part of life and health! Of course, I wanted that same kind of thing for my son, and so even from the time I knew I was pregnant, I began to play songs for him, sing to him, and make sure he was surrounded with as much music as possible.

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Of course, kids’ songs are great, and very important, and I went on a quest for the best kids’ songs I could find (I’ll make a list of those another time!) But introducing classical music to kids is equally, if not more important, as it has so many benefits for children (and big people too!) Research has shown that early musical training (including listening to classical music) helps brain development in the areas involved in language, reasoning and problem-solving. There is also a causal relationship between music and spatial intelligence, or the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things. Studies have even shown that classical music can calm and soothe anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and significantly improve mood.

We listened to a ton of classical music when Nathan was little, and he loved it! Now that we are in the thick of homeschooling and doing music history and education as part of our curriculum, we are still listening to the great classical pieces and works that have stood the test of time. Here are some of our faves, and ones I think should be on everyone’s listening list:

  1. Beethoven’s 5th Symphony
  2. Beethoven’s 9th Symphony – Ode to Joy
  3. Fur Elise by Beethoven
  4. Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven
  5. Pathetique Sonata by Beethoven
  6. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos
  7. Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Bach
  8. Wachet Auf by Bach
  9. Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by Bach
  10. Air on the G String by Bach
  11. Ave Maria by Bach/Gounod
  12. Handel’s Water Music
  13. Handel’s Messiah
  14. The Four Seasons by Vivaldi
  15. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart
  16. Turkish March by Mozart
  17. Symphony #40 in G Minor by Mozart
  18. The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart
  19. “Queen of the Night” from The Magic Flute by Mozart
  20. Peer Gynt Suite by Grieg
  21. Canon in D by Pachelbel
  22. Adagio for Strings by Barber
  23. Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin
  24. Clair de Lune by Debussy
  25. Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun by Debussy
  26. The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky
  27. 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky
  28. Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev (and a fun cartoon set to this piece)
  29. Rite of Spring by Stravinsky
  30. Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens
  31. The William Tell Overture by Rossini
  32. The Barber of Seville Overture by Rossini
  33. “Largo al factotum” (Figaro) from the Barber of Seville by Rossini
  34. “Anvil Chorus” from Il trovatore by Verdi
  35. Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov
  36. Flight of the Bumblebee by Rimsky-Korsakov
  37. “Minute” Waltz by Chopin
  38. Fantasie Impromptu by Chopin
  39. Nocturne in E Flat Major Op.9 No. 2 by Chopin
  40. Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner
  41. Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Liszt
  42. The Blue Danube by Strauss
  43. Also Sprach Zarathustra by Strauss
  44. “Flower Duet” from Lakme by Delibes
  45. Holst’s The Planets
  46. The Cradle Song by Brahms
  47. Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Brahms
  48. Carmen Overture by Bizet
  49. Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninov
  50. Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky
  51. Bolero by Ravel
  52. Hoe-Down from “Rodeo” by Copland
  53. Fanfare for the Common Man by Copland
  54. Ave Maria by Schubert
  55. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Dukas
  56. The Wedding March by Mendelssohn

For your convenience, I have included YouTube links for all of these, many of which are live performances of the pieces, because it’s great for kids to watch the music being played on the instruments. Now, don’t get all offended if there is a piece that you think should have been on this list that isn’t there. This is by no means an exhaustive list. And I know I missed some that I would have liked to include simply because I can’t think of them right now. I will come back and add as needed, how about that? 🙂

In the meantime, enjoy some great music with your kids!


photo credit: barnigomez Felipe Dj. via photopin (license)

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About Susan Cunningham

Susan lives in Texas with her husband and son. She loves sharing about her faith in Jesus, writing, homeschooling her boy, natural living, eating real food, pursuing health and wellness, and teaching others about essential oils. She blogs about real life at www.livethereallife.com.

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