Family Concert: Fun info about the music

Here are some fun facts and links to help you get familiar with the music you will hear on Tualatin Valley Symphony’s spring Family concert (3PM, April 2).

But in fact you are familiar with most of it already, and for good reason: because each piece evokes specific visual images, almost all of the music in our family concert has been used repeatedly in movies, cartoons, commercials, and television. Whether it’s the storm, sunshine, or galloping horse sections of Rossini’s overture to his opera William Tell, or the “Swan” from Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, many of the themes have become “war horses”—music ridden into the ground—or into everyone’s memories!

Examples of the Familiar:


Dukas: Sorcerer’s Apprentice

This entire piece is perhaps the most familiar section of Disney’s Fantasia, from 1940. (Wikipedia page on Disney’s Fantasia, listing all the well-known music Disney used.)


Rossini: Barber of Seville Overture

“Rabbit of Seville” is a famous Warner Brothers “Looney Tunes” cartoon, one of several the studio built around classical music. Excerpt

Many ensembles have produced concerts where the orchestra plays under a showing of a cartoon. For example, here’s a Hollywood Bowl production of “Rabbit of Seville.” The overture snippets are mostly in the last half.


Rossini: William Tell Overture

The final section of William Tell is the theme to the ’50s TV series the Lone Ranger. Want to sing along with Barber of Seville? Here’s how it’s done, by the Swingle Singers! (In concert: William Tell Overture)

And then of course there’s the most famous Looney Tunes cartoon of them all: “What’s Opera Doc” (a bit off topic, but crazy!)   At the Hollywood Bowl  A high school production

Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals

TVS is using a newer narration, but most people are familiar with the verse by Ogden Nash, from 1949.

Yep, Chuck Jones and Warner Bros did it again!

The finale was used in Disney’s 2000 remake of “Fantasia”


And Something New!


Breur: Dance of the Monsters Under the Bed

A special feature of this concert will be the orchestral premiere of a work by composer Arthur Breur, who lives right here in Durham, Oregon. The piece Dance of the Monsters Under the Bed was conceived as a tribute to scary (and funny) movie scores by such great composers as John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Danny Elfman, and Bernard Herrmann. Originally composed in 1989 for piano accompanied by synthesizers (imitating an orchestra), Arthur has arranged the piece specially for the Tualatin Valley Symphony, just for this concert!


Other Fun Pieces in the Concert:


Strauss: Radetzky March

Clap along with the chorus of the Radetzky March!


Blanc: La Promenade du Bœuf Gras

Well, Google translates this directly as “The Walk of the Fatty Beef”, but probably a more accurate translation would be “The Procession of the Fat Ox”.


Teaching resources:

  • Two lesson plans for grade school music, built around Rossini’s William Tell Overture, and additional resource links.

More to come here!