Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Theme Music

I grew up in a small town in an era when in-home entertainment was limited to the piano if you had a piano and someone who knew how to make music rather than just sounds, or the radio. Television had not yet migrated from the laboratories into working class living rooms.

Among the favorite radio shows of my elders were The Lone Ranger, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, and for my mother, The Romance of Helen Trent and Our Gal Sunday. Others usually listened to included  
The FBI in Peace and War, The Green Hornet, Doctor Christian, The Shadow, Don McNeil’s Breakfast Club and a host of others.

During school days I listened with my grandfather to the evening shows, The Lone Ranger, and Sergeant Preston of the Yukon before supper, homework and bed. It was during sick days home from school being nurtured with apricot nectar, apple juice and tasty soft foods that I could enjoy the daytime offerings not the least of which was Don McNeil’s Breakfast Club.

Midday is when my mother’s favorite soaps came on. Captive audience that I was I listened to those, too. I don’t believe the story line grabbed me. I doubt it. I don’t remember. What started getting my attention was the music. Especially the themes. It was over the ensuing lifetime that I started learning what music was being used for which theme -- it became a kind of musical crossword puzzle.
It was not until many years past that time that I finally learned the theme used for The Lone Ranger was not ONLY from Rossini’s William Tell Overture but also from Franz Liszt’s Les Preludes.

Driving across the desert one night in Arizona or New Mexico I  heard a piece of music I remembered from my youth but never knew its name. Now, I know the name. It was the overture from the opera Donna Diana by Emil von Resnicek which was used as the main theme for Sergeant Preston of the Yukon. Not that I had any taxonomic fixation about naming every tune I had ever heard but, more simply, if I want to hear a tune that’s no longer being used as a theme, I can find it whenever I want to now that I know the name.

Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion seems to be a modern day variation on Don McNeil’s Breakfast Club. And the Breakfast Club march around the breakfast table is approximated on WRTI’s, (Temple University Public Radio) Sousalarm at 7:15 A.M. with a tribute to the late great John Phillip Sousa.

The musical crossword was gradually being filled in. Now with more answers than questions I find myself just enjoying the sounds and noting connections here and there.

Thus began my life long association with music. It was only the beginning.

No comments:

Post a Comment