Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Transformation of Classical Music

Opera is the oldest entertainment form that is still around today. As Levine suggests in the reading, we have been preserving the original text and music ever since the late 19th century.


Music to support the drama we see on the stage in a theater, TV shows ( especially cartoons ), video games, and movies have never gone out of style. Classical music is still being used in all of these genres of the entertainment.

For example, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, 1st movement was used in the movies Die Hard, Hannibal, Lucky Break, and Moll Flanders. Cantata No. 147 Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, was used in Boogie Nights, Crush Flubber,A League of Their Own, Minority Report, Mona Lisa Smile, Paradise Road,Picture Perfect, Runaway Bride, and Stealing Home. To view a more complete list go to www.allegro-c.de/formate/cmm.htm

I would argue that new composers reach a wide audience and gain recognition when they compose music for the movies. An excellent example of this is the minimalist composer Philip Glass who has composed sores for The Truman Show, The Looking Glass, The Hours, Dracula, The Illusionist, and Notes on the Scandal.

I especially remember watching Warner Brother cartoons that usually featured classical music at some point. In the classic cartoons there was:
Rhapsody in Rivets (1941, Freleng) Using Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody, a construction crew builds a skyscraper. Freleng often used a classical/musical background to orchestrate an action piece.
Rabbit of Seville (1950, Jones)The entire overture to Rossini's Barber of Seville is used as a background for Bugs and Elmer's chase. Another favorite. I get tickled every time when Stalling throws in Mendelssohn's wedding march near the end, seamlessly. And the "Marriage of Figaro" (a Mozart opera) gag is priceless.
In a modern cartoon such as Pinky and the Brain there was: Cheese Roll Call (#P4, 1995) Pinky sings an ode to cheeses to the tune of Sousa's "Semper Fidelis."
Video games are still very popular with many children and adults alike. A classic famous video game -Tetris - features in the Game Boy version is an arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach's French Suite No. 3 In B Minor, BWV 814, V. Menuett - Trio.

Classical music is reaching a vast audience – but most people are not educated enough to recognize the music. Since most children are taught that classical music is a high art that only happens in the symphony concert hall, it would never occur to them to listen for it in their movies, cartoons, video games, and other forms of entertainment.

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