Classical Baby

Our grandchildren in Arizona (3 months and 3 1/2 years) watch the occasional TV (well, the older one watches). One of the shows, which our son couldn’t believe we hadn’t heard of, is called Classical Baby, in which a diapered toddler takes on musical and Classicalbabydvdartistic chestnuts. It is, I learn from Wikipedia, a Canadian show from about 2005, with separate episodes for Music, Art, Dance, Poetry, and Lullabies, available on DVD and HBO. The animations are clever and the pieces — Waltz of the Flowers, for example — are pleasant. Needless to say, a piece like the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto is massively shortened and simplified. Still, it’s there, and pretty cute — as are Bach’s Prelude to the first cello suite, Debussy’s Claire de Lune, and Appalachian Spring. The orchestra is made up of animals — as is the audience.

Here’s a collection of snippets. Notice how wonderfully the conductor raps his baton for silence, a toddler-Toscanini! O mio babbino caro (2:25) is one of my favorites!

At the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, there are some mid-18th-century paintings from the 18th century that reminded us of Classical Baby — a series by Charles-André Vanloo featuring (slightly older) children as artists and musicians. Apparently they hung in the Versailles palace of Mme de Pompadour.

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If Classical Baby is cute and amusingly Canadian, Vanloo’s seem just creepy.

These children are miniature versions of the court of Louis XV — overdressed and oversexed; pampered aristocrats, not music-lovers in Pampers.

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Music and art are here laden with gendered sexual tension; girl-children are on display; semi-nude modeling is the equivalent of playing the piano, a louche entertainment in expensive silks.

I’m glad my grandchildren are watching Classical Baby!

8 Replies to “Classical Baby”

  1. Can’t wait to share. At least the children in the paintings aren’t posing in this child-sized armor (Cleveland Museum of Art)
    No luck attaching photo.

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