For this month of December, when everyone is subjected to the ceaseless repetition of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, I offer this list of other un-famous classical pieces you probably already know.
Delibe: The Flower Duet, (Youtube) from Lakmé really demonstrates Léo Delibes’s ability to write gorgeous melodies. Also to sell chocolates on airplanes. A real renaissance man. (Youtube)
Of course you’ve heard this (supposedly) Bach organ piece in every horror comedy and weekday nights on MSNBC sometime between 9-10PM EST, bud did you know its status as BWV 565 is in doubt because it contains consecutive fifths and it is scientific fact that Bach can do no wrong…? (Youtube)
Not as famous as the Messiah “Halelujah,” but the Händel coronation anthem “Zadok The Priest” still makes its way into popular culture occasionally. (Youtube)
Most non-musicians also know the finale of the William Tell Overture, but also often heard but not well known is the “Ranz des Vaches” right before that, which is used regularly in, uh, Looney Tunes to set pastoral scenes. (Youtube – the more famous part at about 2:35)
Similarly, the Grieg piece “Morning Mood” is used in cartoons and pop culture to indicate a peaceful morning. Interestingly, Grieg wrote it to represent the glory of the sun rising in Egypt. (Youtube) The piece is part of the Peer Gynt suite, which also includes the very famous “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”
Also, if you’ve ever needed some latin flair, or dance music, you go for Libertango, by Astor Piazzolla. (Youtube). It is essentially the go-to song of modern tango.
I was watching some TV late night after coming in and I happened to see an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent called Mad Hoops that no only starred scrawny John Krasinski as a star basketball player, the school he played for was named MosesCaro High School. There is only one Bob they could have added to make it better.
In my wanderings around Wikipedia late at night, I have found a number of apparently non-dubious articles you may find interesting.
Gropecunt Lane: Al Mustashriqa almost slapped me when I mentioned this place.
Hipgnosis: This cleverly-named artistic group designed a number of fantastic psychedelic album covers.
Centralia, PA : This mining town is an unfortunate victim of a large coal fire that makes the ground smoke and children fall into holes, leading to an exodus, eventually making the smallest town in Pennsylvania, beating out…
S.N.P.J.: A town that exists essentially so that a Slovenian cultural society can drink liquor on Sundays.
Mac users: You can map some fantastic information relationships via this nifty wikipedia browser called Pathway. Try it out, you will waste at least an hour trying to do six degrees of Wasilla, Alaska. Which is stupid, because this webpage will do it for you: Six Degrees of Wikipedia.