June 17. Stravinsky and Gounod’s Birthday

Today is the birthday of the French composer Charles Gounod, (1818 – 1893) and Igor Stravinsky ( June 17, 1882 – April 6, 1971.)

The Funeral March is probably one of the first pieces of classical music I ever heard.  In the 1960s, when I grew up, the US was in still in the midst of the Golden Age of television.   It was still a fairly new medium, and it brought a whole world of art and culture into small, backwater towns like my own, Mishawaka, Indiana.  Shows like The Man From Uncle, The Ernie Kovacs Show, The Invaders, I-Spy, Westinghouse Theatre, Saturday Night at the Theatre, The Jackie Gleason Show, and The Twilight Zone let us experience, in our own living room, drama, comedy, music, dance,the supernatural and life in the old west and modern Manhattan.  Every night after dinner we gathered around the TV as a family and watched our favorite program chosen from only one of the three channels we received.  I remember sitting with my parents, watching Sing Along With Mitch (Miller), which commanded us to sing the lyrics that appeared on the screen in time to a white ball that hopped from syllable to syllable along with the music. I’m feeling a bit nostalgic now for that.  What family sings together any more?

One program we loved was “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” whose short murder mysteries were introduced by the director himself.  He performed his plummy, congested monologues in a perfect deadpan British accent while acting out absurd and macabre skits.  The theme music to the show was Gounod’s Funeral March of a Marionette.  We only knew it as the “Funeral March,” and as soon as we heard it, we’d come running to the living room to watch.  I still think of the pudgy director whenever i hear it.

Here’s his wikipedia entry.

Igor Stravinsky’s fascinates me more than just about any other composer.  I’ve written about him a lot on this blog, here, here, and here for example.  He wrote Tango for piano in 1940 and later participated in turning it into a chamber piece.

About kurtnemes
Writer and Education Professional. Specialties include Ethics, Personal Memoir, Classical music, Tai Chi, Stress Reduction, Meditation, Coping, Classical Music, Aging, Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity (& what interests me.)

3 Responses to June 17. Stravinsky and Gounod’s Birthday

  1. richibi says:

    if it hadn’t been for TV and movies, Kurt, we could’ve lost our Classical music heritage, though my French Canadian relatives used to belt out Italian arias, often with racy translations, another cultural source – Richard


  2. richibi says:

    riveting Stravinsky, Kurt, nearly English in his ceremonial intentions, an heir of the, however, usually trite, Handel


  3. kvennarad says:

    The Funeral March of a Marionette is one of those pieces with instant associations. They used to say – mockingly – that the difference between highbrow and lowbrow was that the highbrow hears the Gallop from Rossini’s overture to William Tell and does not instantly think of The Lone Ranger. The irony is that Rossini would have wanted us to think exactly of that – a larger-than-life hero riding to the rescue! I think if we think of Hitch when we hear the Gounod piece, then Gounod’s shade chuckles with delight.

    The Stravinsky is stunning. Of course.

    Q: Gounod et Verdi – pourquoi se disputent-ils?

    A: Parce’que quand Gounod faisait L’Ave Maria, Verdi faisait Othello.


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