Classical Music

Trust Me, You’ve Heard These!

Also Sprach Zarathustra – Ah! Vous Dirai-je Maman! – Fanfare for the Common Man

William Tell – Ode to Joy

Don’t know these? Well – ten bucks says you do! I’ll even venture to say you’ve been singing at least one of these your entire life. Don’t believe me? That’s OK. Classical music is ubiquitous and we just don’t know it. It’s everywhere we look, even if we’re not aware of it. And as for intimidation, well, classical music might seem to have a bit because of its overriding formal nature – people in tuxedos on stage, everyone dressing up in suits and dresses, etc. Well – if it helps, only the musicians wear tuxedos. We in the audience don’t have to. Remember – our job at a concert is only to listen. How hard can that be? (If you’re a parent and you’re picturing your kids with that question, feel free to take it as rhetorical!)

Even if you don’t ever go to concerts and think you don’t know any classical music, I’m going to show you that I’m pretty sure you do know some. It’s definitely not stuffy or boring or prim and proper or just plain ol’ “bleck” kind of music – especially in the context in which I’m going to present it – which is where you probably already know it. I’m pretty sure you know more than you might think AND that you probably like a fair amount of it!

Thanks to some help of my friends in Facebook, I’ve put together a nice collection of classical music that I’ll share with you this week. My suggestion to you? Take a moment each day to look up at least one of the five examples in its original form. In other words, go to YouTube and look up an original version of these – just to try it out. If you never go back, that’s OK, but at least you can say you tried it. Kind of like actually trying a funky food BEFORE you tell folks you don’t like it. It’s OK if you end up making that same kind of funny face. You’ll at least get an A for effort!

So with that in mind, check these out and let me know which of these you never knew you knew!

Hi Yo Silver! (Rossini’s William Tell Overture) 

Everyone knows this as the theme to the hit 1950s TV Show, The Lone Ranger, but did you know this was actually an overture to an opera, William Tell, that originally premiered in 1829 as one of Gioachino Rossini?

It was the last of his 39 operas that he wrote prior to “retiring” in his 30s. While we may not know the opera itself, we will forever know it as the Lone Ranger and as my personal favorite, what sports broadcaster, Billy Packer, called “The Greatest Timeout in College Basketball,” the favorite song of the Indiana University basketball pep band played in the second half of every game.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (Mozart’s Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman)

Did you know that every time you sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, you’re actually singing Mozart? It’s true!  It’s called Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman. (trans: Ahh – you, I will call, Mother) and it’s a basic, yet lovely melody he wrote for the piano.

Though Mozart is pretty much credited with the whole thing, he just came up with the melody itself.  An Italian composer though, Antonio Siloti, put together a whole slew of variations that becomes this piano piece that is a ton of fun to play! Not sure about Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? OK. That’s fine. Sing the alphabet song. The what? The Alphabet song: A-B-C-D-E-F-G… it’s the same melody. (at least with what we sing here in America. In Bulgaria, their alphabet song is sung to Old to Joy!) Speaking of which…

Yippee Ki Yay, Mother ** (Family friendly blog. Expletives deleted!) (Beethoven’s Ode to Joy)

If you’re not accustomed to singing the Bulgarian alphabet, then you’ll definitely know this classical music great if you’ve ever watched any of the Die Hard movies. It’s from the 4th movement of Ludwig von Beethoven’s 9th and final symphony where he brings in a full chorus – something normally not seen in a symphony in his day.

It was very innovative and very gorgeous and very moving – the kind of music that will send chills up and down your spine. We know this song because we hear it in our heads every time we see Bruce Willis, but the original symphony itself is amazing!  Try it out – even if only the  truncated version of it recorded for the movie soundtrack, Immortal Beloved. (Gary Oldman was Beethoven. WOW! VERY intense!)

Good morning, Dave. (Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra)

Remember the scene in the 1996 movie, Independence Day, where jeff Goldblum and Will Smith are in the alien spaceship inside the bit mothership? Jeff Goldblum opens up his laptop (Which can conveniently interface with an alien computer) and it says “Good morning, Dave”? Well – that line is originally from 2001: A Space Odyssey, a funky Stanley Kubrick film from 1968 that everyone should watch at least once. OK fine, so all of Kubrick’s films were a tad on the funky side, but this one was pretty cool. Grab some popcorn and enjoy the music – – – by Richard Strauss.

Yes, this is the opening theme called Also Sprach Zarathustra – the title of which I’d never heard of until a few months ago when someone else posted it. I listened to it and though – oh yeah…2001, etc etc etc. Naturally I had to share it on my knitting blog because it’s something every knitter would want to play upon completion (finally) of a big huge knitting project. (If you’ve ever worn anything made by hand, call – email – text the person who made it for you – RIGHT NOW – and thank them again)

On a side note, Strauss’ Blue Danube Waltz is also featured in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Don’t know that one? Yes, you do. Look it up. 🙂

The Nutcracker Ballet

Not sure you know this? You know you do. Here’s a great, non-traditional version of the music from the Nutcracker by Brian Setzer and his Orchestra. (Brian Setzer – of the 80s group, Stray Cats. I’ve seen him and his orchestra in concert and MAN are they good!) This one, you should play to the end!

Though you can easily find the entire ballet on youtube, I recommend you go out and see it in person – especially since just about every orchestra and ballet company right now are performing it nearly every day and twice on Sundays!

So tell me. How many of these did you learn you already knew? 🙂 Let me know – I’m going to have five more for you on Wednesday!

One thought on “Trust Me, You’ve Heard These!

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