Young players are first introduced to classical music with The Anna Magdalena Notebook, a collection of little short keyboard works named for Johann Sebastian Bach’s second wife, Anna. The most famous is Bach’s Minuet in G major from the Notebook which, although a relatively easy piece, has a spectacularly simple, yet beautifully hummable melody. I love the old 45 from the 1960s, “A Lover’s Concerto. featuring The Toys singing a pop version of the famous melody. It’s was written by songwriters Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell and recorded in 1965, the year I was born. It hit number 2 on the US Billboard and Number 5 in the UK. The record sold more than two million copies and was awarded a gold record certification.
Check out the clip below of The Toys singing their famous hit. Also note the huge bust of J.S. Bach in the foreground as the camera focuses in on the trio. Love that touch.
THE SWINGING 60s meets BACH
Recently, I emailed Quinn’s brother, Cade, with a list of the musical pieces being played during the upcoming gala. He found this gem on You Tube. I am conflicted. On the one hand it’s Bach, it’s the Largo movement of the concerto, the notes are accurate, and it’s interpreting Bach’s melody but wow, talk about dated. And the voice! I wonder what it would be like if someone actually wrote lyrics. In any case, it’s funny and entertaining.
Quinn is playing Rachmaninoff No 2. The third movement features one of the most beautiful melodies of the entire classical music repertory. In 1945 songwriters Buddy Kaye and Ted Mossman grabbed the famous melody and created a pop tune called “Full Moon in Empty Arms.” The best known recording of the song was made by Frank Sinatra. Bob Dylan also recorded the song. Here is a clip of Dylan singing the famous melody.
“GOOD OLD RACHMANINOFF"
When it comes to Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 op. 18 and pop culture, nothing compares to the fantasy scene in “The Seven Year Itch,” a 1955 screwball, romantic comedy. Directed by Billy Wilder, it stars Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell, and contains one of the most memorable scenes in motion pictures, namely, the subway grate and the iconic white dress blowing upwards by a passing train. But the Rachmaninoff fantasy scene is just as memorable. “Good old Rachmaninoff” is mentioned as Tom Ewell’s character, Sherman, fantasizes that the music makes overtakes Marilyn Monroe’s senses. The scene is classic. Marilyn Monroe appears from nowhere in a tiger-skin dress, sauntering into the library as Sherman sits at the piano in a smoking jacket that looks part Jersey Boy part Hugh Hefner. The cheesy dialogue is over the top.
‘Rachmaninoff… It isn’t fair… Every time I hear it, I go to pieces… It shakes me, it quakes me. It makes me feel goose-pimply all over. I don’t know where I am or who I am or what I’m doing. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop!