Classical Music Playlist for Kids

    Randy Salas | Classical MPR

    As part of the Classical 15 initiative, Minnesota Public Radio asked listeners to suggest the ideal work to introduce classical music to kids, and they responded in droves. The clear winner? Let’s just say that most people were crying wolf.

    That’s right: Sergei Prokofiev’s iconic work for children, Peter and the Wolf, was suggested more than any other. In fact, about one-fourth of the responses were for the well-loved work, subtitled as a “Symphonic Fairy Tale for Children.”

    Andrea Johnson of Lake Elmo, summed up the work’s appeal: “With narration, it is a timeless folk story that engages children while simultaneously teaching them to identify musical motifs and appreciate the tone colors of a variety of instruments and orchestral combinations. It is beautiful and it is hummable.”

    “I especially like the clarinet imitating the cat,” said Lazlo, the 4-year-old grandson of John Pastor in Falcon Heights.

    Two more popular works for children came in as a distant second and third—Camille Saint-Seans’ Carnival of the Animals and Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. Right in that mix was Gioachino Rossini’s high-trotting William Tell Overture.

    Other works receiving several mentions each included Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee, Ferde Grofe’s Grand Canyon Suite, Edvard Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King and the entire Peer Gynt Suite, Modeste Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, and Peter Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite.

    Some of the more adventurous choices included John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Leroy Anderson’s The Waltzing Cat, and George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

    For more ways to introduce children to the beauty and benefits of classical music, go to



    Dvorak: String Quartet No. 12, American, 1st mvmt.
    Pannon Quartet

    Musical Jewelry Box
    Stephen Hough

    Peter and the Wolf
    Sergei Prokofiev

    “Twinkle, Twinkle” Variations (Ah, vous dirai-je, maman)
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Starlight Express: Waltz
    Edward Elgar

    African Suite
    Andrew York & Bill Kanengiser

    Dance of the Hours
    Amilcare Ponchielli

    Goin’ Home
    Antonin Dvorak

    Nocturne No. 2
    Frederic Chopin

    Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
    Benjamin Britten

    Flight of the Bumblebee
    Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

    Carnival of the Animals
    Camille Saint-Saens