The Godfather and The Godfather Part II are two of the greatest movies ever made. The films have won Oscars, Golden Globes, Grammys, and BAFTAs, and are featured on pretty much every single one of AFI’s countless lists of the best films ever made. And while the films feature incredible performances by stars like Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, Francis Ford Coppola’s extraordinary direction, and some of the best, most quotable lines in film history (“Leave the gun, take the cannoli,” “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse”), the incredible score by Nino Rota elevates the pair of films to modern-day opera. As Awesӧme Orchestra prepares to perform The Godfather Suite on Sunday, October 8, allow Canon Fodder to be your guide through this epic story about family, power, vengeance, loyalty, and a whole lot of food. (For the purposes of this post, we’re just going to go ahead and skip Godfather Part III, which we wish Coppola had done, too.) In case it’s not already clear, I love these movies like I love a good Bolognese, so let’s dig in!
It’s that time of the year again! Today is Mother’s Day, and I’d like to use this opportunity to reflect on the sheer number and variety of bad moms in opera. Or, to put it another way, 500 years of mommy issues!
Here at Canon Fodder, one of the most common reasons we hear that people don’t like classical music is that they don’t know anything about it, and therefore that they won’t understand it. The truth is, though, that even people who consider themselves newbies know more about classical music than they realize. For one thing, classical works are much more present in people’s everyday lives than they might think. From movie and television soundtracks to commercials to even many pop songs, you have probably been exposed to more of the “great works” than the average person who was alive when they were written.
Much of pop music today relies on the same concepts of harmony and composition that were established over hundreds of years of classical music1. So when we talk about some fancy-schmancy classical music concept like counterpoint, it’s important to remember that you probably know more about it already than you think, and you have definitely already heard it. I’m going to give you the basics of counterpoint so you can impress your friends and co-workers at happy hour, and show you how it’s still being used today — come for the Renaissance, stay for Bob’s Burgers!
THE PIECE(er… -s): “Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann”, Clara Schumann (Op. 20) / Johannes Brahms (Op. 9)
DATE: 1853 (Clara Schumann) / 1854 (Johannes Brahms)
GOOD FOR: when you feel sad because love is so beautiful but will you ever find it?!?!, generally crying your eyes out
The relationship between Robert and Clara Schumann is the most beautiful, bonkers, and heartbreaking love story in classical music. It has everything: Star-crossed lovers! A scandalous legal battle! Incredible musical works inspired by and dedicated to each other! Syphilis! And one of the most tragic endings you’ll hear this side of Shakespeare. It’s my favorite coupling in all of music, so just give up now, Taylor Swift!