OPINION: Classical music is everywhere, if you listen

BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
07/16/2019 02:00 PM
When I first heard it, I didn’t realize it was making an impression on me. I thought I was just watching Saturday morning cartoons. But looking back, “Kill da wabbit! Kill da wabbit!” was probably the first time I remember hearing classical music.

Granted that scene of Elmer Fudd singing to Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” while trying to get Bugs Bunny might make the classic classical music fan nauseated, I found it funny and I liked the music.

There were others, such as Bugs massaging lotion onto Elmer’s head to Gioachino Rossini’s “Barber of Seville Overture,” a young Daffy Duck quacking to Johan Strauss’ “The Blue Danube” and Bugs fleeing Yosemite Sam to Rossini’s “William Tell Overture.”

As I got older, I heard classical music at graduations (“Pomp and Circumstance” by Sir Edward Elgar) and weddings (“Wedding March” by Felix Mendelssohn) and even on professional wrestling (Ric Flair’s intro music was Strauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra”). However, I wouldn’t say I was a fan.

Growing up in the 80s, I listened to my parents’ music and pop music before discovering Aerosmith’s “Toys in the Attic” and Guns N’ Roses’ “Appetite for Destruction.” As the 80s gave way to the 90s, I liked Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and later Korn, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Johnny Cash, Dwight Yoakam, etc.

In college, while working at a music store, I adopted a rule about music: If I liked it, no matter the genre, I listened to it. That rule eventually got me into classical music.

Before we were married, my wife Lisa and I saw “The Nutcracker” ballet. I really enjoyed Pytor Ilych Tchaikovsky’s music for it. Years later, my daughter Sadie and I began a tradition of going to “The Nutcracker” annually, which we still keep.

However, “The Nutcracker” got me wondering what else classical music had to offer. So, I took what I thought was a safe gamble and asked my wife, as a birthday gift, for Beethoven’s complete works. It didn’t disappoint. I love all his symphonies. His seventh is my favorite, and I’ve heard it as well as his fourth and fifth symphonies live. I also enjoy many of his concertos and most of his other works.

After that I began listening to my local classical music station, especially since the alternative rock station was playing more music I didn’t enjoy. Listening to the classical station, I heard music that I’ve heard before, but most was new to me.

I still listen to rock, but if I hadn’t switched to the classical station I may have never known about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Jupiter Symphony” or Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.” FYI, John Williams borrowed heavily from that for the “Star Wars” score. I may have never heard Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia,” or Maurice Rovel’s “Bolero,” or appreciated Gyorgy Ligeti’s “Requiem” or “Musica ricercata No. 2.” If you’re a fan of the late film director Stanley Kubrick, you’ve probably heard those Ligeti works.

I suggest giving Carl Nielsen’s “Fifth Symphony” a listen, as well as Beethoven’s symphonies 4 and 7. Although Beethoven’s most famous are symphonies are 5 and 9. Also, try Tchaikovsky’s “Fifth Symphony” or Bedrich Smetana’s “The Moldau.” Or give Chickasaw composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha Tate’s “Tracing Mississippi” a listen.

I listen to classical music while editing stories and designing pages, while on my long slow runs (rock music for shorter faster runs) and while relaxing before bedtime (with headphones as not to disturb Lisa). I also enjoy putting on a classical record while cleaning the house.

I’m encouraged that Sadie (who plays clarinet) and my son Swimmer enjoy some classical music. They love “The Nutcracker” music, Mozart’s “Piano Sonata K. 331” and Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” Swimmer even likes J.S. Bach’s “Toccata & Fugue,” which makes many people think of old vampire movies.

Most people probably hear classical music daily via TV and movies but never really think about it. Listen to Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo – Hoe Down” and you’ll probably say to yourself, “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner.” Listen to Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna” and you may want a Gatorade. And George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” may make you want to fly somewhere.

Classical music is everywhere. You just have to listen for it.
About the Author
Travis Snell has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2000. He began as a staff writer, a position that allowed him to win numerous writing awards from the Native American Journalists Association, including the Richard LaCourse Award for best investigative story in 2003. He was promoted to assistant editor in 2007, ...
TRAVIS-SNELL@cherokee.org • 918-453-5358
Travis Snell has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2000. He began as a staff writer, a position that allowed him to win numerous writing awards from the Native American Journalists Association, including the Richard LaCourse Award for best investigative story in 2003. He was promoted to assistant editor in 2007, ...

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