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6 Times Disney Used Classical Music

September 2, 2022

6 Times Disney Used Classical Music

There is nothing quite like live classical music. Instrumental orchestras are known for their ability to wrap audiences into their animated notes and the stories behind them. The highly established genre that has been around for well over 300 years has influenced the music industry, pop culture, and, quite frankly, everything around it. 

Hollywood and the film industry are among the many ways classical music and its reputation carry on. Take a look back at these six Disney productions that used classical music. 

Fantasia (1940)

Fantasia marked the beginning of a new era for Disney. The film, directed by James Algar, was centered around mythology, fantasy, and other fun yet supernatural elements. Fantasia had everything from dancing mushrooms to “bewitching centaurettes,” but, most importantly, it had Amilcare Ponchielli. 

Ponchielli, a famous Italian composer who died in 1886, is highly regarded for his work and operas like La Gioconda. In Fantasia, Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” played while ostriches eloquently danced to the iconic score. Though it may not have been what the Italian composer originally had in mind, it speaks to the music and Ponchielli’s legendary reputation. 

Fans of the music in Fantasia should reserve tickets to experience Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring with Peter Oundjian, live in Denver.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (1940)

Disney fans are probably familiar with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, a treasured and classic title. The animated short featured Mickey Mouse in one of his most appraised roles. Audiences got to enjoy seeing Mickey stumble and scheme into some magic. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Paul Dukas’s symphonic ballad, was at the center of the action stirring the pot and the plot. Dukas, a talented French composer, helped establish and promote the classical structure and everything that comes with it. Ironically enough, Fantasia was born as a result of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Filmsite’s feature does an excellent job of breaking down the origin story and highlighting the connection between the two.

The Band Concert (1935)

Disney’s history and love for classical music stem back to 1935 and the release of The Band Concert. Mickey Mouse’s personality and frustrations came out in this short film. While battling an annoying peanut vendor and getting his band on track, Mickey was seen navigating the many obstacles. Featuring Gioachino Rossini’s William Tell Overture, with Mickey’s help and determination, the crew managed to make it through their performance. Rossini, an Italian native, was well-known for incorporating humor and comedy into his operas and work. With that being said, talk about a perfect fit. The Band Concert also marked Mickey’s first on-screen performance in color. Watch it for yourself on YouTube.

Peter and the Wolf (1946)

As the title implies, Peter and the Wolf tells the tale of a brave Russian boy on a mission to take on a furry prowler. Wanting to help his grandfather and community, Peter covertly decided to venture out and try to take on the wolf on his own. Through his journey accompanied by his forest friends, Peter was able to trap the wolf until help could come. 

Peter’s story was remarkable, and the music selected for the short was perfectly fitting. Like Peter, Sergei Prokofiev was from Russia and the composer of Peter and the Wolf Op. 67. Red Heat, Love and Death, and Blade Runner 2049 are just a few other popular productions in which Prokofiev and his celebrated classical music have been featured over the years. 

The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met (1946)

Before there was Sing, there was The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met. The 1946 short film told the story of “a fantastic tale of a ghostly opera-singing voice, heard in mid-Atlantic.” The “Melodious Mammal” that makes headlines while chasing dreams caused a combination of chaos, entertainment, and curiosity. Pagliacci and Mefistofele were two of the classical operas that Willie was seen performing in The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met

Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Sleeping Beauty is another Disney staple known for incorporating classical music roots. As many already know, with the help of her three fairy godmothers and, of course, a very handsome prince, Princess Aurora was able to reverse the curse that ultimately promised her demise. In Sleeping Beauty, Disney used Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Garland Waltz but with a slight twist. Adding to the story and entertainment, Disney added lyrics to the classical composition. Tchaikovsky, a composer known for his international influence, is the mastermind behind the scores of famous ballets like Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. Listen live this November as the Colorado Symphony performs Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with Olga Kern and the music from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Conducted by Andrew Litton in May

See the Magic Live at the Colorado Symphony

Disney is no stranger to classical composition and the magic that comes with it. Fortunately, the Colorado Symphony is here to bring it all to life. Disney’s Hocus Pocus in Concert is one of the many fabulous and entertaining ways to enjoy live classical music and everything that comes with it. Magic and music go hand-in-hand. Check out all the events taking place this 2022/23 Season, and reserve your tickets to the Colorado Symphony, and don’t miss the highly anticipated performances of your favorite Disney films, live in Denver:

Image Source: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock