Gifts for... Children (and grandchildren) | Presto Classical
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 Favourites, Gifts for... Children (and grandchildren)

In our latest gift guide, you'll find the perfect presents to introduce children to the wonderful world of classical music. We've selected some great albums and collections featuring some of the most popular works for children - from Peter and the Wolf to Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, some family-friendly ballets to watch together, and some entertaining and informative books introducing the instruments of the orchestra and the lives of some of the world's greatest composers.

CDs and Collections Introducing Classical Music

Narrators include Bernard Cribbins, Prunella Scales, Angela Rippon, June Whitfield and Dame Edna Everage

Naxos's Children's Classics series includes some of the most popular pieces of classical music for younger listeners. With narration from British actors including Bernard Cribbins, Brian Cant, Dame Edna Everage and Prunella Scales, this 7-CD box set includes Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, Poulenc's L'histoire de Babar and Dukas's The Sorcerer's Apprentice among others.

Available Format: 7 CDs

Alexander Armstrong (narrator), Orchestra of the Swan, Tom Hammond

The broadcaster, singer and comedian narrates on world premiere recordings of three settings of modern children’s stories by Bernard Hughes (b. 1974): David McKee’s Not Now, Bernard and Isabel’s Noisy Tummy, and James Mayhew’s The Knight Who Took All Day. The album also includes John Ireland’s setting of Edgar Allan Poe’s final poem Annabel Lee (and arranged here by Hughes) and Judith Weir’s Thread!, inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry and premiered in 1981.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Danny Kaye, Gordon Jenkins and his Chorus and Orchestra

The original soundtrack from the 1952 film features songs including Thumbelina, The Ugly Duckling, The King’s New Clothes, and The Inch Worm, and has been remastered for this release; the album also includes Paul Tripp’s two Tubby the Tuba stories (narrated by Kaye) and two songs by Sylvia Fine: There's a Hole at the Bottom of the Sea and Uncle Pockets.

Available Format: CD

Miriam Margolyes (narrator), Simon Callaghan (piano)

Perhaps best known to children as Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films, the Australian-British actress narrates this lovely new account of Poulenc’s story of Babar the Elephant, based on a tale by French author and illustrator Jean de Brunhoff and born out of musical ideas which Poulenc improvised for an army of small cousins in the early 1940s.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC

Britten-Pears Orchestra, Marin Alsop (conductor/narrator)

Marin Alsop and the Britten-Pears Orchestra present live performances of popular classical works for younger audiences. The programme includes Saint-Saëns's Carnival of the Animals, Ravel's Mother Goose, Peter and the Wolf and The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra by Britten.

Available Format: DVD Video

Alexander Armstrong (narrator), Richard Casey, Ian Buckle (piano duet) Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko

This 2017 recording, narrated by presenter Alexander Armstrong, features Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, Saint-Saëns's Le carnaval des animaux and Alan Rawsthorne's setting of six poems from T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Vasily Petrenko conducts the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in invigorating performances of these popular pieces.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

My First Classical Music Albums Series

The 'My First...' series from Naxos features albums devoted to specific instruments, composers and types of music including the violin, the piano, ballet, the orchestra and Christmas. Each release gives an interesting overview, with popular pieces across a broad spectrum of classical music - and occasionally incorporating some other styles. A great introduction to the exciting world of music, ideal for younger listeners.

Explore the full series >>

Family-friendly Ballet and Opera on DVD/Blu-ray

The Royal Ballet

This unique collection brings together four jewels of the Royal Ballet repertoire that will delight and captivate viewers of all ages. Included in the set are full performances of Tchaikovsky's festive treat The Nutcracker, the enchanting Tales of Beatrix Potter, Joby Talbot's imaginative treatment of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and a beguiling production of Peter and the Wolf.

Available Format: 4 DVD Videos

Special release for the English-speaking market

This abridged version of Mozart’s masterpiece offers young, very young and not-so-young audiences a first taste of the fascinating world of opera. Papageno guides us through the work, recounting his adventures with Prince Tamino, who has fallen in love with Pamina and decides to rescue her from Sarastro’s empire …

Available Format: DVD Video

The stage show for children

Raymond Briggs's book The Snowman has become a seasonal favourite, and Howard Blake's enchanting score adds to the charm of this magical story. Now running for decades, the 80-minute stage show version has become a festive must-see, and is now released on DVD and Blu-ray - so you can relive the magic at home.

Also available on Blu-ray

Available Format: DVD Video

Books about Music

Budding music fans will love this visual journey through the world of music, where they can discover musical geniuses of every era from Mozart to David Bowie. Featuring instruments and genres from across the world, this book looks at music throughout history, beginning with the first-known melody and covering modern music phenomena from K Pop to hip-hop.

Available Format: Book

Mick Manning; Franklin Watts; Hardback

This inspiring introduction to music history showcases diverse composers and artists through the ages, from Vivaldi, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky, to Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Bjork, and Kraftwerk. The friendly text and illustrations help children to appreciate the music, highlighting interesting biographical facts and picking out key details.

Available Format: Book

What on Earth Books; Hardback

Learn about how different genres started - including classical, folk, jazz, gospel, rock 'n' roll, country, punk, grunge and pop. Discover the stories of maestros including Beethoven, Django Reinhardt, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, Maria Callas, Nina Simone, and Louis Armstrong. Marvel at the orchestra with a huge illustration set in the Royal Albert Hall, and find out about ancient instruments from all over the world.

Available Format: Book

Dorling Kindersley; Hardback

A compelling celebration of more than ninety of the world's most influential composers from the medieval period to the present day, revealing the fascinating stories of their lives, loves, and works. Lavishly illustrated, this book introduces the key influences, themes, and working methods of each individual, setting their works within a wider historical and cultural context.

Available Format: Book

This beautifully-illustrated reference book is a guide to the history of music, instruments of the orchestra and the most influential classical composers. All sections of the orchestra are covered, as well as historical, rare and non-Western instruments. An authoritative guide to over 100 of the most famous classic composers then follows.

Available Format: Book

Tracy Newman; Abrams Press; Hardback

This picture-book biography of violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman will inspire young readers. Despite enormous obstacles including a near-fatal bout of polio that left him crippled for life, Itzhak persevered, honing his extraordinary gift. Gorgeously illustrated with extensive back matter, this book recounts Itzhak's childhood journey from a boy with a dream to an internationally-acclaimed violin virtuoso.

Available Format: Book

Mary Auld; Wayland; Hardback

Learn about the different instruments of the orchestra with this beautifully-illustrated book, produced in association with the London Symphony Orchestra and introduced by Sir Simon Rattle. With accompanying CDs, downloadable music, and information on all the pieces featured, this is the perfect introduction to the orchestra for children aged seven and upwards.

Available Format: Book

More than fifty fun, thought-provoking activities, each taking a work by John Cage as a starting point and exploring the links between music, dance, visual art, poetry and nature. Most projects require no prior knowledge of reading music, and they encourage creative thinking, experimentation, and an exploration of the world around us.

Available Format: Book

In 1848, Robert Schumann wrote his famous Advice to Young Musicians, a book that is still deeply relevant today. In this volume, celebrated cellist Steven Isserlis has taken Schumann's words of wisdom and set them in a modern context with his own extensive commentary. By turns practical, humorous and profound, this book is a must for music-lovers of all ages.

Available Format: Book

Dorling Kindersley; Hardback

A richly-illustrated narrative exploring the roots of all genres from the chants of the middle ages and the grandeur of the classical period to the modern rhythms of blues, jazz, hip-hop, and pop. Special articles showcase the evolution of key instruments, and profile iconic innovators such as Mozart, Gershwin, and David Bowie.

Available Format: Book

Katherine Woodfine; Simon & Schuster; Hardback

This gorgeously-designed retelling of The Nutcracker will make the perfect Christmas present for ballet fans! In snow-covered St Petersburg, young dancer Stana's dreams have finally come true - she has been chosen to play the lead role in Tchaikovsky's ballet. But with all eyes looking at her, can Stana overcome her nerves and dance like she's never danced before?

Available Format: Book

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