by Karl Beaudry
Have you ever watched the old Lone Ranger television shows? If so, you’ve heard Rossini’s famous William Tell Overture. Have you ever seen Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? If so, you’ve heard Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. In fact, Mozart’s music shows up in countless places – including the well-known Eine Kleine Nachtmusik in (of all places) an Ace Ventura film! Sections from Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite are commonly heard in commercials when a quiet morning is being depicted. And when terror and fear are needed? The Ride of the Valkrie by Richard Wagner or Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by J.S. Bach.
We hear some of the best classical music nearly every day of our lives. From cartoons to commercials, melodies from early musical eras are filling the air and much of the time we don’t even realize it. Someone once said, “The best of music lives on in the subconscious mind of those who appreciate it.” Marketing companies and movie producers know the value of great music when it comes to setting a mood. It is no surprise that they often choose the best of classical music – either in its original form, or arranged in subtle ways.
When famed German composer Franz Liszt was just 15 years old, he wrote a set of simple piano exercises (etudes). These exercises would eventually be revised over a period of 30 years, but the ideas remained consistent. The “Transcendental Etudes”, as they are known, are twelve compositions known today as some of the greatest pieces ever written for piano. Etude #9 is called “Ricordanza” and it contains a small melody with which we are all familiar.
“A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” (from Cinderella) is based on this Liszt etude. In fact, some of the greatest of Disney songs are based on themes from classical music and, in a strange sort of way they help to revive these great musical masterpieces for a generation of people who would not otherwise recognize them.
Here’s a fun assignment for you… The next time you are complaining about all the commercials during your favorite television show, or watching a long movie – try listening to the background music. Chances are, you will discover some of the greatest classical music ever written. Oh, and my favorite? The United Airlines theme – Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin.