As a teenager in the 90s, I was subjected to the public school interpretation of music appreciation. I remember in the 7th grade we sat around the music room and got to experiment with different instruments to decide which we wanted to learn to play. For the record, I chose the clarinet. For those of us that had the aptitude for it, we worked and practiced tirelessly in the hopes of being the special few to join the school band. Good times.
Why is this important? Well also during this time of discovery we were all exposed to classical music. Every day we’d come in and the music teacher would have a composer of the day to talk to us about and let us here one of said composers musical pieces. We were introduced to Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Chopin, Lizst and many others. And I loved it. I ate it up with a spoon and asked ‘Please sir, can I have some more?’ Needless to say my appreciation for classical music was now carved in stone. It was so new, fresh, exciting and unlike anything that I was used to. Like a lot of people, I didn’t grow up in a household where classical music was even known, let alone heard on the boombox.
Now back in the 90s we didn’t have the internet that we know and love today. No Youtube, no Itunes or MusicMatch, so I had to get my classical fix from school and wherever else I could find it. Which was mostly tv. Movies and commercials played classical music all the time. And to my surprise, so did cartoons. I had seen most Looney Tunes cartoons so often that I knew a lot of them by heart. So imagine my surprise when vegging out in front of the tube, a Merrie Melodies cartoon called Rhapsody in Rivets came on and started playing Franz Liszt ‘Hungarian Rhapsody #2’…and I recognized it! I felt so awesome and ‘learned’. That particular piece was used multiple times in cartoons. I saw a Tom and Jerry one and Bugs Bunny used it too. I became obsessed with trying to see what composers and pieces were used in other shows I watched. It was like a game to me.
Needless to say, years later, my love and admiration for classical music is as strong as ever. And I haven’t even heard them all yet. There are thousands of composers out there that have great music. Heck, even modern-day popular music uses touches of these classical pieces. A guy named Walter Murphy remixed Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony for the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack.
Classical music is all around us and it’s influence is still strong. Next time you watch a movie, hear a commercial tune or even watch a cartoon. Really listen to the music and try to see if you know where it came from. Let it speak to you, let it move you or like me, inspire you.