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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2016 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gustav Mahler...on The Simpsons?

Homer J. Simpson, appearing soon in the Metropolitan Opera's new La Traviata.
From the 2010 episode To Surveil With Love. © 2010 Gracie Films/20th Century Fox.
So this morning I'm on Hulu, catching up on this week's new Simpsons episode, The Scorpion's Tale, where Lisa accidentally creates a new "happy pill" from the extract of a desert flower. About 12 minutes into the episode, there's a montage with all of Springfields' septue- and octogenarians romping about happily. The soundtrack: Mahler's First Symphony, first movement. Conductor and orchestra unknown.

Classical music has long played an important role in the adventures of America's favorite family. The very first episode, "Bart the Genius", featured Marge taking her family to the opera. They saw Carmen. Unaccountably, the opera was advertised asbeing sung in Russian, although the singing was in French. After Bart gave his rendition of "Toreador-o, don't spit on the floor", they left the opera house and went for hamburgers.

In Season 2 (Marge vs. Itchy and Scratchy), Bart's mother lauches a successful crusade against cartoon violence. This results in the children of Springfield going out and playing in the sunshine to the bucolic strains of Beethoven's "Pastorale" Symphony, again the first movement.

Season 15's Margical History Tour featured an entire sketch based on the play and movie Amadeus. Bart was Mozart. Lisa, a jealous, angry Salieri who decides to sabotage the first performance of Bart's opera, The Musical Fruit. The episode also featured school bully Nelson Muntz as a hopeful young composer named Beethoven:

Nelson Muntz as Beethoven in a scene from Margical History Tour. © 2004 Gracie Films/FOX.

Seasons 16's The Seven-Beer Snitch featured the opening of a brand new concert hall in Springfield, designed by architect Frank Gehry. The concert hall closed quickly after the first performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (the audience left after the opening "Dah-dah-dah-DUM") and became a prison.
Bart Simpson as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in a scene from the Mozart and Salieri
segment of Margical History Tour. © 2004 Gracie Films/20th Century Fox.
Marge Gamer (Season 18) featured Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings. Placìdo Domingo showed up in The Homer of Seville, (Season 19) gave Homer some career tips on singing opera, and then snapped him with a wet towel. And, the highly amusing Da Vinci Code spoof Gone Maggie Gone (Season 20) featured a choir of nuns essaying the opening bars of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana.

Although the show's episodes average 20 minutes in length, (shorter than the opening movements of most Bruckner symphonies!) it is encouraging to see that the writers on America's longest-running situation comedy keep the classical music flag flying. And who knows? Some kid watching Our Favorite Family might get into classical music and some day start a blog and call it...oh, I don't know...Ultraconductor?
...Megaconductor?
...Hyperconductor?!

Here's some music:

The Los Angeles Philharmonic plays Mahler's Symphony No. 1 "Titan". 
Gustavo Dudamel conducting. © 2010 Universal Music Group
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.