Saturday, October 1, 2011

Umbrellas and Brooms

Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice is featured in a scene of Fantasia (1940)

We've got a few Disney-related events to celebrate today.

The French composer, Paul Dukas, was born on this date in 1865. His most famous work was the Sorcerer's Apprentice, which has become inextricably connected with the Disney interpretation in the 1940 cinematic feature Fantasia. I have a special love for the Sorcerer's Apprentice because of how it serves as an example against the modern Disney-influenced concept of intellectual property.

Let me explain. The history of the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" story spans over 2000 years. In ancient Egypt, there was a believe that magical funerary figures, ushabti, could be enchanted so as to perform one's work in the afterlife. Playing off of this belief, the ancient Greek satirist, Lucian of Samosata, created the basic narrative as we now know it in his work, the Philopseudes, written c.150 AD. Centuries later, the German writer, Goethe, does a "remake" of the story in his poem Der Zauberlehrling. This poem inspired Dukas to create his tone poem. And Disney uses the music as the basis for the wonderful scene in Fantasia.

It's really cool to see how different minds shaped the underlying source material over the centuries. It's too bad that modern "property" restrictions make creating works of derived influence a risky legal endeavor. Fortunately, contemporary "mash up" projects in music and literature are bringing the Disney "property" paradigm into question.

Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins

And we're also celebrating the birthday of Julie Andrews. Happy 76th Birthday!!!
So, let's look at some vids:


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