Hate is a strong word. I try to use it sparingly; cold-callers saying I've been involved in an accident when I haven't, people who sniff and don't use a tissue, computer viruses, and kumquats are all things I hate. Dubstep and Death Metal music I dislike, but can't say I have the passion of hatred for them. It consequently amazes me the number of people who say they hate classical music. Here and now I'm going to give you proof that classical music defamers unknowingly like the genre. There are five pieces that even the classical-haters secretly love, so if you ever meet said person, you can shove this article in their face and sing as loudly as possible DA DA DA DUUUUUUMMMMMMMM!


Beethoven: 7th Symphony (2nd Movement )

I would start with the famous Beethoven 5th Symphony, and those unmistakable four notes; but that's more predictable than Charles marrying Camilla. So instead I'll make my point with the 7th Symphony. This is where you say in your mind 'urgh, I don't know that one...' - but you're wrong. The big speech in The King's Speech, Knowing and X-Men are just three well-known films where the music plays an equal part to the action on screen.

When Beethoven premiered it, he conducted it himself. The audience was so stirred by this movement that they immediately shouted for an encore before they could finish the other two movements.

The Gospel according to RDCE, Chapter 1 - "He said unto himself that it's impossible to not be moved by this piece of music" - here endeth the first reading.


Grieg: In the Hall of the Mountain King (from Peer Gynt)

When I hear this piece, I immediately feel nauseous thinking about my body being thrown into a G-Force that it's absolutely not designed to take. For those who don't live in the UK, that refers to the theme park 'Alton Towers' who use this piece by Grieg as a theme tune. Covers by bands such as The Who and Electric Light Orchestra throw this piece into the minds of anyone who is older than me, and for those who are my age, the brilliant Inspector Gadget theme tune clearly 'borrowed' a few notes from Grieg. It was initially written for a theatrical scene featuring trolls, so it works perfectly in films that need characterful music; Corpse Bride, Funny Games, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Beetlejuice and Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian for example. But the best use has to be the fabulous film The Social Network, as you can see here.

The Gospel according to RDCE, Chapter 2 - "Thou doth cannot listen to the constant acceleration during the piece and not be thrilled akin to a rocket up one's buttocks" - here endeth the second reading.


Pachelbel: Canon in D Major

A bit like waiting for paint to dry before the obligatory second coat, this piece for me is tedious but necessary. When I was a church organist in my reckless youth, I played this at every wedding and heard it in every song produced in the '90s. Pete Waterman described it as "the godfather of pop music" because the chord sequence has been copied so many times.

Don't Look Back in Anger by Oasis, In My Life by The Beatles, Streets of London by Ralph McTell and the Pet Shop Boys song Go West are all pieces which stole the Pachelbel. No one knows precisely when the Canon was written, (we think somewhere between 1680 and 1706) but like the Birdy Song and politics, it'll annoy us again, and again, and again.

The Gospel according to RDCE, Chapter 3 - "This little ditty must contain herewith the most famous bass line ever" - here endeth the third reading.


Bizet: Habanera

Habanera is officially called "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" ('Love is a rebellious bird'), from the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet. Despite its popularity today, the premier in 1875 was a failure; the audience found the risqué plot, with its robbers, gipsies and cigarette-girls, too hot to handle. One critique wrote, "What is really wrong with this Carmen is that there's not a good tune in it". The theatre ended up giving tickets away to fill seats. Bizet was devastated and died of a heart attack three months later aged just 37 - poor sod. Little did he know that not only would his opera be a world success, but 100 years later his tune would end up in films like Pixar's Up, Bad Santa, Superman Returns and even TV programmes like Doctor Who (I'll never understand why that title doesn't have a question mark in it...) and Glee.

The Gospel according to RDCE, Chapter 4 - "Thou shall listen to this sensual music and start wiggling one's hips in rhythm"- here endeth the fourth reading.


R. Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra

The famous opening of Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-QFj59PON4) (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) is titled 'Sunrise' and has become iconic in pop culture since film director Stanley Kubrick used it in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Those of you who love the Toy Story films, will notice the opening of Toy Story 2 uses the Also Sprach theme to introduce their main character, which to me, sounds like a crazy sex toy; Buzz Lightyear. It's also used pretty much anywhere you need a heroic moment. Wall-E, thirteen episodes of The Simpsons, Britain's Got Talent, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and Zoolander all realise the power of Strauss's composition.

The Gospel according to RDCE, Chapter 5 - "Thou shall remember the next time one is in the cinema and a heart-wrenching, Grand-Canyon like epic-ness begins playing underneath a scene, taketh a moment to remember Richard Strauss and his 155-year-old tone poem." - here endeth the fifth reading.


Related & Recommended Posts

This blog post is brought to you with help from Lucozade.

This high-energy isotonic drink not only helps sports professionals with that little boost when they need it, but conducting a concert for three hours, or playing a 42 page piano concerto also puts pressure on the physical body. I've used Lucozade for years to keep my energy and concentration high - and whether you're studying for a degree or just simply going for a long walk, this wonder drink really does give you a little 'cheer me up' when needed. And since it was first produced in 1927, it's certainly stood the test of time!

About RDCE

RDCE (Robert D.C. Emery) is a conductor, pianist and serial entrepreneur.

He is lucky enough to travel the world; ranging from performances in London's Royal Albert Hall, through to the Sydney Opera House, RDCE has seen them all.

Besides music, RDCE is the Founder & Director of The Arts Group; one of the most diverse entertainment companies in the UK. Within the portfolio is a national music tuition agency, symphony orchestra, choir, artist agency, record label and production company.

Aside from that, he lives in London and Cambridge, has a wife (Mrs E), a toddler (Master T) and 4 cats.



Leave A Reply

Comment Rules

Criticism is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your comments. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your personal name or initials and not a business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation!