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Music Monday – The Music of the Olympics

by SirLady on February 17, 2014

If you have watched the Olympics, than you are very familiar with a musical composition called  “Bugler’s Dream”.   The sonic signature of the Olympic Games can be summed up in seven notes in E-flat major, a soaring BUM—BUM—ba-ba-ba-BAH-BAH that fades in and out of the competitions.

It is a very stately piece, beginning with a timpani cadence that is joined by a distinctive theme in brass.  Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t composed by John Williams, the creative genius behind the familiar themes to Star Wars, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark and many more memorable movie scores.

The composer, Leo Arnaud, was a French-American composer of film scores but it is this Olympic tune that is his best known work.  Arnaud’s composition is based  on David Buhl’s “Salut aux étendards”, a typical cavalry trumpet’s call, composed during Napoleon’s Consulat.

Arnaud studied composition at conservatories in Lyon and Paris with Maurice Ravel and Vincent d’Indy.  After playing as a jazz trombonist in France using the name Leo Vauchant and arranging for the Jack Hylton band in England from 1928 to 1930, he immigrated to the United States in 1931. He worked in Hollywood as an arranger for Fred Waring before joining Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) as an arranger, composer, and orchestrator from 1936 to 1966.

To most Americans, The fanfare of brass and percussion, has come to represent the Olympics almost as much as a torch or five-rings— we think Arnaud deserves a medal (preferably in Gold).









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