Walter Mencken 10:33 a.m., May 24
One Hit Wonders
I caught part of VH1’s show, One Hit Wonders of the 80’s. It got me to thinking about classical one hit wonders.
One hit wonders are an interesting phenomenon. One piece of music becomes so popular that it eclipses the rest of the artist’s music. That’s not to say the rest of the music is bad, it just isn’t what the artist is known for.
Here are a few one hit wonders from the classical ranks.
Pachelbel’s canon in D. This music dominates bridal processions and has been reworked for voices, guitar, organ, piano, strings, and probably accordion.
The Masterpiece Theater music is technically called Rondeau as was composed by Jean Joseph Mouret. Try asking someone about Mouret’s Rondeau and you might get some blank stares. Ask about The Masterpiece Theater music and the lights go on.
Czech composer Bedrich Smetana’s Ma Vlast is a series of tone poem about his homeland. Of these six poems, Vltava or Die Moldau is hands down the most famous. The Vltava is the river that flows through the heart of Prague. Apparently Czech Airlines plays this theme after their planes land.
Edward Elgar can hardly be considered a one hit wonder but his Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 is undeniably more popular than anything else he wrote. If you graduated from junior high, high school, or college, then you know this music. I like the complete march better than just the graduation section that is chunked out of the middle.
Mascagni wrote more than Cavalleria Rusticana but that’s about all we know him for. The intermezzo from Cavalleria was used in Godfather Part III. On some days, Cavalleria is my favorite opera.
On other days, Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci is my favorite opera. The title character’s aria, Vesti la giuba, was the opera aria of all arias until Nessun dorma took over in the 1990’s.
I’ll highlight more one hit wonders as we go one.
Enjoy the links.