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Classical Music and the Movies
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Author: MaryAnn Johanson

..............for most of us under 60, our first exposure to classical music came before we ever knew what “classical music” meant, perhaps in the Bugs Bunny cartoons we slurped up with our Cheerios on Saturday mornings. The most famous of which is probably the best, and one still beloved because of its musical parodying: In 1957’s “What’s Opera, Doc?” Bugs and Elmer Fudd send up Wagnerian opera in gloriously comic style; the short has long been a favorite of fans and critics alike, and is the only Bugs Bunny cartoon in the National Film Registry. (It’s available in the DVD set Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 2.) We knew Gioachino Rossini “William Tell Overture” as the theme to the 1950s Lone Ranger TV series starring Clayton Moore (also available on DVD), and that association has lingered even in the long absence of the character from TV or film. And generations of American kids likely first heard Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, and other classical pieces in Fantasia, the 1940 Disney film that enjoyed regular rereleases up through the 1970s -- and hopefully today’s kids are seeing the film on DVD.

Classical music has gotten connected to goofy grownup stuff, too. The Marx Brothers spent A Night at the Opera for their 1935 film, which revolves around a production of Pagliacci and features a slew of songs from Il Trovatore. And the John Philip Sousa march “The Liberty Bell” will likely never escape the air of insanity it acquired when Monty Python chose it as the theme music for its Flying Circus sketch-comedy series (which is available in its entirety on DVD). The 1977 Italian film Allegro Non Troppo is perhaps more unsettling than goofy: a parody of Fantasia, it combines selections form Debussy, Vivaldi, Stravinsky, and other great composers with trippy, psychedelic animation that is definitely not meant for kids.

Perhaps in defiant resistance to the strange but common notion among nonfans of classical music that it is somehow “nice” or “boring,” filmmakers have frequently linked............

Blog continued at http://www.flickfilosopher.com/blog/2009/09/092809classical_movies_are_music_to.html


 
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