So today I let my grade school students watch excerpts from Fantasia 2000. Yes it made a light day for me, but hey, part of my job is to get these kids to appreciate music other than rap! This week we’ve explored Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Saint Saens’ Carnival of the Animals, Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and finally Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite.
I have to admit, I have a real soft spot for Stravinsky’s music in general, and the Firebird in particular. Maybe that’s partly because I like scaring the crap out of my students at the point in the movie where the firebird wakes up. They all jump a mile in their seats, and I just laugh inside! But today they also showed me they were capable of real emotion, empathy for someone outside of themselves. They were completely enraptured until the very end, which honestly surprised me in no small measure.
But it must be noted that Disney did cheat just a bit, in that the arrangement for Fantasia was merely half what Stravinsky actually wrote. Fortunately for me, Disney left the Finale completely untouched. But being the purist that I am, I had to go home and throw on the headphones to listen to the Firebird Suite as Stravinsky actually intended. I’ve been listening to it all day, and yet I still got chills and goosebumps. And I cried. And I backed it up and listened to the Finale again. And I cried again.
It is possible that some music is actually too beautiful to be heard.