Franz Liszt, the 19th century composer, could not have imagined how vital one of his works would become to a 20th century media known as the movies.
In Monday’s post on “It’s Always Fair Weather” (1955), we note Dolores Gray’s magnificently ridiculous television hostess who performs on her own variety show. Introducing one segment she sits elegantly at the piano and thumps out a languid commercial ditty glorifying her sponsor, Klenzrite detergent. You will recognize the tune as Franz Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2”.
The melody has been used in a score of Hollywood shorts and feature films since it was introduced to moving pictures in 1930 in the short “Fire Boys.” Since then it has popped up in “A Night in Casablanca” (1946), “The Horn Blows at Midnight” (1945), “You Were Never Lovelier” (1942) and many, many others. Often it has a comic interpretation, and has been scoffed up as favorite among cartoon animators. It had its cartoon premiere in “Rhapsody in Rivets” (1941) here:
Bugs Bunny used it in “Rhapsody Rabbit” (1946), a clip here below. Later, Bugs, along with Doris Day and Jack Carson in supporting roles, commandeered it for the animated segment of “My Dream is Yours” (1949).
Franz Liszt received the Tom and Jerry treatment in 1947 with “Cat Concerto” below.
Paolo Marzocchi here plays “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” as Franz Liszt probably imagined it, with no interfering mice or buildings collapsing.
However, as with most pieces of classical music I learned in childhood from the cartoons, I find myself waiting for sound effects noises of slapping, bricks falling, cannon fire, and general mayhem when I go to a concert. It’s like something’s missing.
Special thanks to my twin brother, John, for his encyclopedic knowledge of cartoons and their classical music.