When I hear music like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture or Pachelbel’s Canon, I am usually tempted to turn the stereo off. It’s not that they aren’t beautiful pieces of music, but for a serious classical music fan, it is about the equivalent of hearing “She Loves You” by the Beatles. In other words, I’ve heard them so many times that I can’t get anything new out of them.
Popular classical music certainly does have its place, however, especially when it comes to drawing in new listeners of classical music and, hopefully, instilling in them a love for the genre. The good thing about it is also the bad thing about it – you hear it all of the time.
Let’s start with a car commercial from a few years back where a bunch of guys ride by in a car, roll down the windows and start hurling water balloons at another guy. The commercial is in slow motion, and it is made to look like a Mafia hit. The guy that gets drilled drops his water balloon and slowly crumbles to the ground. It was very funny.
The song playing in the background is what I remember, because it was an aria from the opera Pagliacci, a great example of popular classical music that many people would recognize first as the music from that car commercial.
Another work of popular classical music that I saw recently on commercials for Subway restaurants is one that I have already mentioned, the 1812 Overture. In this commercial, it shows different people preparing to eat food from another fast food place, and their chairs break as they sit down, or their buttons snap and fly off, all while that overture is playing.
Popular classical music is used to promote many different products, and most people don’t even realize what the songs are. For instance, the music from the Helzberg Diamonds commercial is Palladio
by the Welsh composer Karl Jenkins.
Another example of popular classical music being used as a theme song in a commercial is George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue being used for United Airlines. It is funny, because this was one of the very first pieces of classical music that I ever heard, and it made me want to learn more about classical music.
With the fact that classical music is probably the least popular of all the major genres of music, I think it is important that the general public be exposed to popular classical music through such things as commercials.
I have been around friends that will hear classical music in some advertisement and ask me what it is, and they really like it and want to listen to more. This could be the best way to expose the largest number of people to a very beautiful musical style.