Encouraging multiple forms of literacy while having fun

The Travels of Babar is one of the rare handful of concert works that succeeds with a general audience of all ages — young and old alike — and all levels of sophistication

The Travels of Babar’s innovative design makes it remarkably useful for education — in promoting multiple forms of literacy, at multiple age levels

Link to view the 2017 Berliner Philharmoniker’s program book for The Travels of Babar (in German) The Berliner Philharmoniker presented the original 8-musician version of the complete Travels of Babar in the world premiere of the new full production at the Philharmonie in Berlin

Link to view the 2019 National Symphony Orchestra’s program book for the new version for orchestra of Babar’s Return to the Land of the Elephants from The Travels of Babar at the John F Kennedy Center for the Arts, Washington, D.C.

The Metropolitan Opera Guild interviews Raphael Mostel about The Travels of Babar:

“All these elements can work separately…but together, the production is much greater than the sum of its parts…

“All the building blocks for musical literacy are here…a work people can lose themselves in and grasp intuitively. The more kids — and adults — listen, the more they will be able to understand all other music too”

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Above is the cover page of the 80-page Guide created for the collaboration of the education programs of the  Metropolitan Opera Guild  and the  New York City Opera  when they brought 8,000 students to performances of the earlier version of the full production — as an introduction both to music and to music-theater. Full guide  here    Raphael Mostel’s  Travels of Babar  remains the one and only collaboration ever between the  Metropolitan Opera Guild  and the  New York City Opera    The Director of the  Metropolitan Opera Guild  at the time, David Dik, currently advocates for the unusually productive usefulness of  The Travels of Babar  for education as  National Executive Director of  Young Audiences Arts of Learning     The Travels of Babar  was adopted into the repertory of the  New York City Opera  as one of the cycle of four annual productions that constituted their education program:  “Opera Is Elementary”  , the innovative repertory/educational cycle  “Opera Is Elementary”  created by Paul L King, the director of  New York City Opera Education .  The Travels of Babar  was the only production of the 4-year cycle that used narration rather than singing. The  “Opera Is Elementary”  program was cut short when the  New York City Opera  itself went out of business. Paul L King is currently (as of 2019) Executive Director of the Office of Arts & Special Projects, Division of Teaching & Learning,  New York City Department of Education

Above is the cover page of the 80-page Guide created for the collaboration of the education programs of the Metropolitan Opera Guild and the New York City Opera when they brought 8,000 students to performances of the earlier version of the full production — as an introduction both to music and to music-theater. Full guide here

Raphael Mostel’s Travels of Babar remains the one and only collaboration ever between the Metropolitan Opera Guild and the New York City Opera

The Director of the Metropolitan Opera Guild at the time, David Dik, currently advocates for the unusually productive usefulness of The Travels of Babar for education as National Executive Director of Young Audiences Arts of Learning

The Travels of Babar was adopted into the repertory of the New York City Opera as one of the cycle of four annual productions that constituted their education program: “Opera Is Elementary” , the innovative repertory/educational cycle “Opera Is Elementary” created by Paul L King, the director of New York City Opera Education. The Travels of Babar was the only production of the 4-year cycle that used narration rather than singing. The “Opera Is Elementary” program was cut short when the New York City Opera itself went out of business. Paul L King is currently (as of 2019) Executive Director of the Office of Arts & Special Projects, Division of Teaching & Learning, New York City Department of Education

THUMBNAIL SYLLABUS • Musical Resources in Brief

THE TRAVELS OF BABAR: An Adventure in Scales

A musical voyage by Raphael Mostel with Jean de Brunhoff’s classic picture-book 

            Scene                                                  Music technique

 1         Introduction                                        Credits + instruments demonstrated (octet version only)

 2         Fanfare                                               Circle of fifths

 3         Balloon Rising                                     C-major (“white-note”) scales, ascending / heterophony

 4         In the Balloon                                     Stacked fifths / transposition

 5         Storm                                                  Chromatic scales / dissonance

 6         Falling to Earth                                  Descending scale/ heterophony

 7         On Land / Seeking Shelter                  Major scales / modulation

 8         Splendid Rice Soup                              Two-part counterpoint, brass

 9         Celeste’s Lullaby                                 Inverse motion

10       Fugue of the Tiptoeing Cannibals       12-tone fugue

11       Celeste in Bondage                              12-tone-row over ostinato

12       Celeste Unbound                                 Mirror of 12-tone-row

13       Appearance of Whale                         Glissando

14       Riding the Whale                                Conjunct melody

15       Disappearance of Whale                    Glissando / arpeggio

16       Celeste Weeping                                  Inversions over pedal-point

17       Attracting Attention                           Iterated unisons

18       Approaching the Big Ship                   Pyramid on iterations

19       Ship Arrives in Harbor                       ‘Tapestry’ / iterations

20       Down the Gangway                            Descending scales

21       Smash Everything! (Babar Loses His Marbles) Non-metrical percussion

22       Let’s Be Good                                      Leading tones

23       Fernando and the Captain 1               Enharmonic relations

24       Fernando and the Captain 2               Enharmonic relations + bitonality

25       Nasty Prank                                       Travesty of Bach

26       Worried and Furious                          Instrumental dialogue over harmony

27       Fernando’s Circus                               Disjunct vs. conjunct melody

28       Night-Escape                                      4-tone arpeggios / whole-tone scale

29       Waking Up the Old Lady                    as above, with viola solo

30       Overjoyed!                                           Circle of fifths

31       Breakfast in Bed                                 Two-part counterpoint, woodwinds

32       Stop! Thief!                                         Intervals and inversions

33       In the Car with the Old Lady              Variation of #4

34       Skiing                                                  Opposing bitonal scales

35       The Great Forest (Where the Birds Are Always Singing) modal melody over obbligato + birdwhistles & rainsticks

36       Destroyed Landscape                         Open fifths / inverse motion

37       Bad News!                                           False relations

38       At the Hospital                                    Canon / chaconne

39       Camp of the Rhinoceroses                  All twelve melodic minor scales

40       Camp of the Elephants                       Non-intentional counterpoint

41       Monsters!                                            Harmonics

42       Rhinoceros Stampede                         Clusters / chromatics

43       Victory!                                               All twelve major scales

44       Royal Ceremony                                 Ascending scales over pedal-point

45       Finale: Wisely and Happy                   Rising-scale variations + viola solo

46       The End                                               Triumphant C Major

                        © Raphael Mostel / Mostel.com