Walt Disney Animation Studios Music

Walt Disney Animation Studios Music

Disney Pixar’s Up Main Theme Easy Piano Solo – Walt Disney Animation Studios

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Ranking of the Disney songs with the highest number of plays on Spotify worldwide in 2022.

(in millions)

Let It Go 517.52

How Far I’ll Go 395.09

You’re Welcome 354.59

Into the Unknown 263.91
(Frozen 2)

I’ll Make a Man Out of You 223.32

Love Is An Open Door 222.88

Do You Want to Build a Snowman? 222.86

A Whole New World 208.88

Under The Sea 197.74
(La sirenita)

I Just Can’t Wait to Be King 193.09
(El Rey León

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The idea of coupling cartoons and music is almost as old as the sound film itself. When in 1928 Walt Disney produced the first sound film of his, in which he heard himself speak Mickey Mouse, he had already been interested for almost a decade in the “cartoons” (he had previously been a cartoonist advertising and cartoonist).

Just one year later he would produce the first short film of him joining music and animation, “The Macabre Dance” (The Skeleton Dance), which would be the origin of a series of 75 pieces called “Silly Symphonies”.

These short films had a character for Disney “experimental”, with which to test new techniques, and used to serve in theaters as a prologue before a long movie. In fact, it counts anecdote that the famous conductor Arturo Toscanini, after seeing in 1935 The Band Concert, where Mickey Mouse appeared conducting a music band, got that the managers of the cinema stopped the film “important” that came next, to repeat the Disney short.

Precisely a Toscanini record was used in 1937 at the Disney studios in preparation for his following short, about the story of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, using the music of Paul Dukas. But who did he want? Disney for that project was Leopold Stokowski, then brand-new conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and successful actor (playing himself) in films like “Crazy about music” (101 men and a girl), with Deanna Durbin, one of the greatest blockbusters of the season.

Stokowski embodied the “photogenic” type of conductor and “aesthetic” pose, ideal for the screen. The meeting between the two was casual: Disney saw him having dinner alone in a restaurant, he invited her to have dinner together, and told him about his project. “Stokie” was shown immediately interested, and in November of that same 1937 officially announced the completion of the short film.

The sound recording of the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” took place at the Selznick Studios in Hollywood at the night from January 9 to 10, 1938, with an orchestra of very competent musicians, but not that of Philadelphia, as sometimes it is indicated. That same month began the animation of the images, directed by James Algar, although always under constant supervision and criticism from Disney himself, as was his norm. It was soon seen that the cost skyrocketed, and it would end up being about $125,000, about four times that of a “Silly Symphony”: it could never pay off.

What to do? Disney decided to “flee to forward” and expand the short film with other stories, even making a long movie. In fact, 1937 had seen the birth of his first feature film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). The idea was to imitate in the cinema what which is a symphony concert, where an orchestra performs works by different authors at the same evening, hence the name that Disney used for his project, “Concert Film”; however, it was Stokowski, hired as a consultant also for the “expanded” project, the one suggested by the term “Fantasy”, name of a form musical.

In September 1938, Stokowski, Disney, and several collaborators of this spent three weeks listening to hundreds of records, to choose the musical program of the movie. The result of their deliberations passed to the film history: the “Toccata and Fugue in Re minor” by Bach, in orchestration by Stokowski; the Suite from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker”; the Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” (abbreviated), the “Pastoral Symphony” by Beethoven (reduced to a “summary” of 17 minutes), the “Dance of the Hours” from the opera “La Gioconda” by Ponchielli, “A Night On The Bare Mountain” by Mussorgsky (orchestrated by Stokowski) and Schubert’s “Hail Mary”, adapted for orchestra “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” it was ranked third, between Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. The rest of the program was recorded by Stokowski with the Philadelphia Orchestra, in the auditorium of said group.

For the occasion, the system was used “Fantasound”, which provided sound stereophonic when such a thing did not yet exist, a shows Disney’s desire to always use the most advanced of the technique.

The process of making the film was a social spectacle in itself, with parade of personalities by Disney studios; they were seen, among others, the soprano Kirsten Flagstad, the writer Thomas Mann, the biologist Julian Huxley or the astronomer Edwin Hubble, these two supposed to advise the scientific credibility of the episode that narrates the life on Earth with music by Stravinsky. The work of the animation lasted until the last moment, and the sequence of “Ave Maria” was not finished up to 2 days before the premiere, announced for the 13th of November 1940.

The results of the film generally convinced the critics, with some exception among those of music classical; considered today from the perspective of a fond of music, the film is uneven, and It has successes and errors, but the latter have long been that you have been forgiven, and the movie is now, with everything merit, mythical

As a prologue, a symbol of art was chosen Stokowski’s transcriber, his orchestral arrangement of the “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” BWV 565, before considered a work of Bach; today, apparently, apocryphal. It was illustrated with no specific story, but rather preferred abstract images, including shots of the orchestra and conductor. There is also an intermediate intended to describe what the soundtrack of a movie

It is curious, analyzing episode by episode, how the most successful seem to us to be those in which the argument or “program” on which wrote the music in his day, coincides with the developed in the film. So the best is the memorable “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” which was the initial project, and which closely follows the history original: Mickey Mouse is the disciple of a wizard, and he uses his master’s spells to get a broom “enchanted” to do the job of scrub the house He just doesn’t know how to stop her to stop bringing buckets of water…

There is also a relative fidelity to the original story in the “A Night On The Bare Mountain”, with the terrifying appearance of the Devil included, although to get the “happy ending” joins the end of this work at the beginning of the “Ave Maria”, accompanying a pilgrim chorus.

This detail is one of the moments that today seems corny or “kitsch” in the film, whose worst episode is, in our opinion, that of the Symphony Pastoral, with that story set in mythology Greek; I would have better kept the Beethoven’s original “program”, with peasants gathering in thanksgiving after the storm.

Also, Stravinsky’s original program in the “Consecration” of him (a ritual sacrifice in a primitive tribe of Russia, where a young woman is forced to dance to death of exhaustion) looked changed, although with much less negative results, due to the history of life on Earth, with episodes such as the extinction of the dinosaurs, an issue that, for true, has been the object this year of a new production (called “Dinosaur”) of the Disney studios, always applying the theories fashionable scientists.

If in 1940 the spectators saw a slow extinction caused by heat, drought, etc., in 2000 the famous meteorite is seen which, according to theory enunciated by the Alvarez (father and son) in 1979, and which is now considered proven, was the culprit of the disappearance of these “lizards terrible”.

In the other two works included, as they are ballets those of Tchaikovsky and Ponchielli, they did not sit badly with a “choreographic” treatment such as that receive, even if it is without following the original argument (less important here); You just have to write down the owes the usual cheesy sentimentality habitual in Disney products.

But, despite her, and despite also of the reasonable objection, sometimes heard, of that seeing a piece of music linked to an image would make us always identify one with the other, the fact is that “Fantasia” made many people discover the music of classical composers, that it “entered through their eyes”, and that has earned its well-deserved prestige among music lovers. Without to tell, of course, the myth that it represents for a moviegoer.

But a myth that was not born immediately. In 1940 the film was an economic flop (the system “Fantasound” was very expensive, and had to be moved from theater to theater in “pilgrimage”; In addition, the European market was closed due to the war…).

Neither in the 1946 replacement did he manage to Disney recover the investment. The movie began to money in the 1956 revival, with a band four-track stereo magnetic soundtrack, which cinemas of the time could already reproduce it. In 1966, he died Walt Disney, and three years later he recovered again, and the youth of the 60s discovered in her an experience “psychedelic”. The myth began to be born.

After a new replacement in 1977 (the year he died Stokowski), it was thought to re-record the soundtrack taking advantage of new digital recording techniques. It would be the first film thus recorded in his integrity, and fulfilled Disney’s wish to be always with the latest technical advances.

The task was entrusted to Irwin Kostal, a film musician who had received two Oscars for the musical direction of “West Side Story” and “Smiles and Tears” (The Sound of Music), and was held in 1982. Kostal generally stuck to the millimeter to the Stokowski’s “tempo”, although it is noteworthy the curious detail to use in the “A Night on the bare Mountain” the then recent edition of the Mussorgsky’s original orchestration.

“Fantasy” was revived with the new band sound, but critics and fans demanded the return to the original, and in 1989 the negative and the soundtrack film originals were restored using the top technology available, no expense spared, with a view to the 50th anniversary replenishment. Who wants to see how much a recording can be improved old by investing the money that is necessary, you can hear what they have managed to do with these old Stokowski recordings, which have been almost completely removed the background breath completely, although the timbre something shrill from the recordings of the time is harder to hide.

The commercial failure of “Fantasia” dissuaded Disney to make more such movies, to which even had selected music. They had to spend 60 years, and reach the “magic” date 2000, so that this project could continue.

The new “Fantasia” began to take shape in 1992 by Roy E. Disney, company vice president Disney, and Walt’s nephew. He first looked for a orchestra conductor who could represent what Stokowski in his time.

The most logical candidates would seem “a priori” Previn or Mehta, but Roy opted for James Levine, the well-known director of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. the reason for choosing it was the “great flexibility” of him. That is to say, as told by Roy Disney himself, someone who is not cared to direct a “Fifth Symphony” of Beethoven to last only three minutes, and in that Levine had no problem.

Then there was the choice of music, which would begin precisely with such a short excerpt from the first movement of Beethoven’s “Fifth”, in which he wanted to look for an “abstract” beginning, such as the one represented in Bach in the first. Following, the Respighi’s “Pines of Rome”, the “Rhapsody in blue” by Gershwin, the opening Allegro of the Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2, the Finale of the “Carnival of the Animals” by Saint-Saëns, the repetition of the same sequence of “Apprentice of Warlock” from 1940, then an arrangement of several marches Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” and by last few excerpts from the “Fire bird” from Stravinsky.

Almost all the chosen music was abbreviated or “adapted”, in fact the only work complete original is that of Gershwin, and the only complete movement that of Shostakovich, which curiously sound in the two most successful sequences of the film. It happens that some of the music (by Stravinsky, Gershwin, Saint-Saëns) had already been chosen by Walt Disney for the continuation of “Fantasia” that he never came to realize. The orchestra is now the Chicago Symphony, except in Gershwin and in the “Apprentice” recorded for the disc of the “original soundtrack” (in the film, Stokowski’s sounds again, a detail that is thanks after comparing both), where the London Philharmonic.

Times have changed, nowadays in any animation intervenes the computer, and the innovations of techniques from the Disney factory (apart, of course, from a new sound system for cinemas, this time called IMAX) now consist of new software developments. But in some things, computers still can’t replace human labor. The comparison of the new sequences with the “Apprentice” is striking in that sense: the expressions, so human, of Mickey Mouse’s face, have no equivalent in the new “Fantasia”, they cannot be spawned by program, there you can see that there is another human being drawing it.

Another negative aspect of the film is its low duration, since the “new” part does not reach an hour of animation, half that of 1940. Every episode also has its own presentation in “real image”; among the presenters we see familiar faces like actor Steve Martin, musician from jazz Quincy Jones, veteran actress Angela Lansbury and even the “classical” violinist Ithzak Perlman.

Analyzing each episode, the first two are downright tedious, and make you expect the worst. Neither him fragment of Beethoven, with geometric figures that stage the fight between Good and Evil, nor that of Respighi, with his story of whales beginning to fly after the explosion of a supernova, it seems to us especially accomplished. Much improved from third story (the Gershwin Rhapsody), animated reconstructing the style of cartoonist Al Hirschfeld, who met the composer, and who has come to live the enough to contemplate this episode, in projection private, the day of his 96th birthday, despite what topic of history (life in a big city, and the concerns of four specific people) is seen with liking.

In the following episode, inspired by “The Lead Soldier” by Hans Christian Andersen, the music of Shostakovich is quite a find, it seems written especially for the occasion. Along with that of Gerswhin, it seems the best original “Sketch” of this second “Fantasia”, with the short episode about Saint-Saëns, the “rebel” Flemish to the that they don’t let him play with a yo-yo, he doesn’t have time to get bored. And then, as has been said, again the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”; it has been said that this sequence is a symbol of the company, since Walt Disney’s personality can be found unfolded in the two characters:

Disney is the wizard (“the wizard of Burbank” they called him), and in fact at some point the movement of the eyebrows of the character is inspired by him; and on the other, he is also the Apprentice, who experiences new and revolutionary formulas, risking a disastrous end, in this case to lose money with a movie like the “Fantasy” of 1940.

The last two episodes do not detract from the above. After Mickey Mouse comes Donald Duck, because some classic Disney character should appear in the new sequences. In this case it is the Biblical story of the Noah’s deluge, to which the marches of Elgar, with the animals solemnly going in and out of the ark to the chords of “Land of Hope and Glory”. And it ends with a fable about the destruction and renewal of the forest with the music of the “Bird of Fire”, a metaphor about the own concept of “Fantasy”; a work of the that Disney said was eternal, that with the passage of time years it would be renewed with successive deliveries.

In short, this second “Fantasia” arrives too late to be able to say that the will of Walt Disney, since he has waited to squeeze financially the first as much as possible, with new reruns, until it finally came out on video in 1991; it is also too stingy in length, and some of the stories are not especially successful; the human creativity of the former is replaced by the computer… The only aspect in favor of this is the absence of the “kitsch” sentimentality of the first, although to judge this it is essential to pass of the time.

The philosophy of the first film and the second are opposite, the 1940s represented a great risk for Walt Disney, that of 2000 reveals the conservatism of its his heirs, who do not propose new formulas, but they limit themselves to repeating those that have demonstrated their success. Success that, despite everything, is not so simple get, because apparently this new “Fantasy” has gone through theaters without regret or glory. Anyway, if the reader is still in time to see it, the virtues of the film are enough so that it deserves our recommendation, trusting in that, like the forest, “Fantasia” will continue renewing over the years, and we can see other installments more successful than this one.

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