his popular “Spring melody” from the “Four Seasons”,
Antonio Vivaldi became the first of the great composers to write
a tune for the cell phone. He was followed by Beethoven (For Elise),
Mozart (40th Symphony) and Tchaikovsky (1812 Overture), to name
only a few.
Cell phone users that are up with the times, program their phones
so that they are able to identify the caller by the sound of the
ring. Dad’s call, then would then ring to „La Cucaracha“,
for example, while Mom’s call is announced by “For
Elise.” Very clever. But if you stop to think about it, not
very fitting—unless your mother’s name is in fact Elise
and your dad is a roach (cucaracha, in Spanish)!
Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a ring that uniquely
related to that person? Nice idea, but who in the world has his
own exclusive tune—a personal leitmotif, so to speak?
The orchestra knows a few, and lets the audience identify them:
Pink Panther, Flintstones, Woody Woodpecker, and the Simpsons.
None of this comes as any great surprise to the audience, because
many of them have already been preparing for this concert at school
and have composed their very own leitmotifs for this concert as
part of a competition. Several young people are called on stage,
and their leitmotifs are played by a musician of their choice.
At the end of the presentation, the musicians award state of the
art cell phones to the winners of the leitmotif competition.
Bravo! So now thousands of young people join the Pink Panther
and the Simpsons in having their own personal leitmotifs. But whose
idea was this anyway? Who was the first person to write a melody
describing a specific person? A French composer who was slightly
mad and madly in love: Hector Berlioz. He called his melody the “Idee
Fixe” (or fixed idea) as he was completely obsessed with
a beautiful actress named Harriet Smithson.
Monique Mead follows this”Idee Fixe “ throughout Berlioz’ Sinfonie
Fantastique and tells the passionate, demented, and daemonic story
of the symphony, which include fantasies, a gory decapitation,
and a chilling witches Sabbath.
Other composers jumped on the bandwagon and became rich and famous
with Berlioz’ idea of the “Idee Fixe,” or personal
In the film Star Wars, the composer, John Williams, gives every
character from Luke Skywalker to Darth Vader his own personal melody.
Even the Universe has its own tune, which is the theme of the main
title. At this point in the program, young people are invited to
unpack their instruments and (from their seats) play the theme
along with the orchestra.
Where John Williams became rich with Berlioz’ idea, Richard
Wagner is the one who made his fame with it. He is the person who
invented the word “Leitmotif” and used it as the basis
for his great operas. The program ends with the exciting “Ride
of the Valkyries”, making this bombastic program (with over
100 musicians) an superb introduction to orchestral music for teenagers.
Antonio Vivaldi: Allegro from „Spring“ from „Four
Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, op. 14
Williams: Star Wars to play along (Download the music here!)
Wagner: „Ride of the Valkyries“ from “Die Walküre”
Large Orchestra of approx. 100 musicians.
Programmpunkte kurz gefasst
||Students come on stage and perform a leitmotiv they
have written for their cell phone. Cell phones are awarded
to the winners.
|| Audience participates in a music quiz to identify
cell phone rings such as z.B. „Mozart 40“, „Tchaikovsky
1812“, or „Beethoven Für Elise“.
||Audience identifies „leitmotifs“ of
TV characters such as the Pink Panther, the Smurfs, the Flintstones,
or .the Simpsons.
|| Audience claps a waltz beat to the Idee Fixe of
||Audience sings the Dies Irae plainchant with the
||Star Wars is performed by audience and orchestra.
Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)
Download the music to "Star
Wars" here (PDF;
357 kb) so you can play along with the orchestra at the concert!
For further information regarding
this program of for teaching materials, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org