With the Muppets currently enjoying a bit of a revival, I thought I’d share some of the great musical moments that I enjoyed growing up when The Muppets were still on tv.
For anyone who never got to watch the original Muppets’ Show, there was always a special guest for each show, and if this guest was a musical star, they would perform with The Muppets. The Muppets did of course have their own in-house band, the most famous member of which was probably Animal, the drummer, who often featured in these great musical moments.
It is generally quite fascinating watching some of these older clips, as some of the so called stars are still going strong today, others I quite frankly struggle to remember, as time has not been quite so kind to their careers.
This first clip features Animal and the Puerto Rican singer Rita Moreno, who shot to fame when she starred in the 1961 film adaptation of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story.
Welcome to the third instalment of Tunes you didn’t realise you knew. Today we will be looking at the music from the Hovis advertisement. For those of you who live outside of the UK, Hovis is a big British bread company. Yes, jolly foreigner, in the UK many people love sliced and packed bread made on an industrial scale (mind you, it ain’t my cup of tea!)
Anyway, I digress, back to the music. The music used in the ad is actually the 2nd movement (Largo) of Symphony No. 9 in E Minor “From the New World”, Op. 95, B. 178 by the Czech composer Antonín Dvo?ák. It is usually referred to as The New World Symphony.
Dvorak (Dvo?ák) was staying in the United States from 1892 to 1895, and the US was then (more than now) referred to as The New World (i.e. the world that Columbus discovered, hence “New” World). It is said that in the 2nd movement Dvorak was trying to portray the feeling of home-sickness, something which the music did so successfully that the main theme was later set to lyrics and turned into the song Going Home.
So, what important tid-bits should we know about Dvorak (pronounced D-vor-jak or D-vor-zhahk)?
Q: Was he a one-hit classical wonder?
A: No, but The New World Symphony is by far his best known.
We thought we’d run a little series on famous themes of classical music, that you probably didn’t realise you knew. That is because these themes are often for us, the consumer, associated with a tv ad or a movie (or sometimes several) in which they are used, rather than the original context of classical piece itself.
The result of course, is that we don’t know the actual name of the piece, we are left with “ah, that theme from that ad, argh, what’s it called…”
So today we’d like to introduce you to Clair De Lune by French composer Claude Debussy (click on his name to read a longer bio). Or, as you may know it, the theme used in the (almost) final scene of the movie Ocean’s 11.
So, what important tid-bits should we know about Debussy?
Q: Ah, that’s a whole load of French to me!
A: Yep, translated they would be Arabesque 1, Golliwogg’s Cake Walk, The Sunken Cathedral, The Girl With The Flaxen Hair, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (a faun is a spirit-like creature that lives in the forest).
Q: Ok, dude, I get it, he wrote quite a bit.
A: Yes, he was one of the eminent (important) composers of Impressionist Music.
Q: Yeah, yeah, very impressive.
A: Impressionist were concerned with giving you an impression of something, rather than describing it “exactly”. So in the piece La Cathédrale Engloutie (The Sunken Cathedral) he is giving us the impression of a cathedral (that is said to have sunk into the sea) re-emerging only to disappear again. (This refers to the legend of the sunken city of Ys, in Brittany).
Q: Ok, let’s get back to our piece.
A: Sure, it is actually originally written for piano (Ocean’s 11 uses the orchestral version), and is part of the so called Suite Bergamasque. He started writing it in 1890 at age 28, but did not finish it until 1905, (aged 43). Leopold Stokowski created the orchestration .
Q: Cool, enough knowledge, can we have a bit of Ocean’s 11 now?
A: Ok, one more thing: Clair De Lune is actually French for “Moonlight”.
I thought I’d do a quick blog about the phenomenal rise and rebirth of the tune Don’t Stop Believin’ by the band Journey.
Originally released in 1981 on the album Escape it peaked at number 9 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
Then, on December 22, 2009, it got to the No.9 spot in the charts after it had been used in that ubiquitous music TV show of our time: The X Factor (TV series), as well as being featured in The Sopranos and ultimately in the current hot property of TV shows: Glee.
We do of course offer the sheet music for Don’t Stop Believing from Glee for guitar, vocals and piano.