Music, especially classical, is one of life’s great joys as far as I’m concerned and I count myself lucky to be able to enjoy listening to this while writing my stories and blog posts. Two fabulous things enjoyed together – lovely.
But how did I get into classical music at all and what connections had I already formed with it before getting into it “properly”?
Adverts, TV Shows, and Films
I think like many people the first introduction to classical music starts earlier than you might think – with TV and other adverts, film and TV show music and so on. For that reason I will always associate certain pieces of music with the following:-
Danse de Mirlitons – Tchaikovsky aka the Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut advert which ran for years with the much missed Frank Muir starring. Wonderful chocolate too…
Largo (New World Symphony) – Elgar. I can still the Hovis lad pushing his bike up a steep hill (which I believe is in Shaftesbury, Dorset). Advert ran for years and of course Hovis are still going. Indeed it is the loaf of choice in this household.
Bolero – Ravel. Where were you in 1986? I was watching Torvill and Dean figure skating in the Sarajevo Olympics and obtaining what was not expected – close to perfect scores from all of the judges for technical merit and then the perfect score for artistic interpretation. Hard to better that! Wonderful music. Wonderful routine. And a great use of imagination to create a routine which fitted the music so well.
Danse Macabre – Camille Saint-Saens. Used to powerful effect for quirky detective drama, Jonathan Creek, I thought at the time that the music was so well picked for this show. Great series. (The late Bob Monkhouse was a revelation in this. It is amazing just how many comedians can act well). I didn’t watch the other series it was used for – Buffy The Vampire Slayer – but I can understand why they picked it for that too.
And I will always have a very soft spot for this piece. I used it for my book trailer for my debut flash fiction collection back in 2017, From Light to Dark and Back Again. Quirky music for quirky fiction. Perfect match as far as I was concerned. And I received a number of favourable comments about the choice of music at the book’s launch too.
Air on a G String – Bach. Again running for many years, this was the theme for the Hamlet advert. Whenever the music Is played on Classic FM, it takes me straight back to those adverts. (Possibly not what Johann Sebastian Bach had in mind when leaving his music to posterity but ironically it will be things like adverts, films and so on that introduces classical to people and help preserve it too. He might be pleased to know though his music has gone long beyond the advert given any kind of advert for smoking was banned years ago).
O Sole Mio – Eduardo di Capua and Alfredo Mazzucchi. Must confess to having to look the composers for this one up but this music is adaptable. Elvis Presley famously used the tune for his It’s Now or Never.
I had the pleasure of hearing Alfie Boe sing both that version and the classical one with equal passion. If I recall correctly I think it was at a live concert given in honour of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. There was a whole host of other fabulous performers from the world of music generally. Boe’s performance was stupendous.
But of course I know it as the music used for an advert for something much more down to earth. Anyone fancy a Cornetto?!
Alternative lyrics to the advert (as told to me by a family member many moons ago):-
Just one Cornetto
Give it to me
You must be joking
And yes I am old enough to remember when 50p was a lot of money to spend on an icecream! (Favourite flavour mint choc chip. Still is too).
Classical used to enhance film
Now since developing a real love for classical music over the last five years or so, I appreciate the way it is used to enhance a film.
John Williams is a genius for this, having come up with the truly scary music to Jaws to the incredibly moving and beautiful Schindler’s List theme.
I heard an interview with the great man once where he talked about treating the music almost as a character. It definitely works with his Jaws theme. I swear you can almost feel that shark approaching… Thank goodness I only swim at Fleming Park…
Must admit my favourite from him though is The Raider’s March from Indiana Jones.
Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings is a moving piece of music and was used for Platoon. I have no intention of watching the film (not my genre at all) but the music is heavenly.
Oh and for the ultimate in ear worms, how about this one? I can’t think of many instances where a film inspired a classic cartoon series but it was The Pink Panther cartoon show that led me into discovering the Peter Sellers films. (Favourite of those? Difficult to say but probably A Shot in The Dark).
Favourite TV show classical themes
And then there are the tracks composed for TV shows. My favourites here include The Thunderbirds March, Galloping Home (theme for Black Beauty shown by Southern TV back in the day), and The Chicken Run theme. (There’s more than a nod to The Great Escape in the way both the film and the theme were created for Chicken Run). I must admit I love it when these tracks are picked for the request show on Classic FM, as they often are.
Best detective show theme? Well Danse Macabre is for me a close second behind this one – the Poirot theme. The music for this was spot on. (And David Suchet is the Poirot for me, again everything was right about the way the character was portrayed, and I was pleased to hear of the knighthood too. I saw Suchet play Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest via National Theatre Live. He was superb in that too and it is hard to imagine a greater difference in roles! He also appeared as a sinister landlord in Doctor Who – and talking of that show…).
And then there’s the classic theme for Doctor Who. My favourite track here was composed by Murray Gold and called I Am The Doctor. This fab clip comes from the Doctor Who Proms which is where I first heard this piece in full. I do feel for those in costume though – it would have been hot under those lights!
Over to You!
So over to you then? Which music tracks do you associate with adverts, TV shows, or movies? Which are your favourites?
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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