The 1940 Walt Disney Studio production of Fantasia has introduced classical music to several generations. The score was performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski and was narrated by composer Deems Taylor. The music included Toccata and Fugue in D minor by J. S. Bach, orchestrated by Leopold Stokowski; selections from The Nutcracker Suite by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikowsky; The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas; The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky; Pastoral Symphony (Symphony No. 6) by Ludwig van Beethoven, “Dance of the Hours” by Amilcare Ponchielli; and Night On Bald Mountain by Modest Moussorgsky, coupled with “Ave Maria” by Franz Schubert.  In addition, Fantasia was the first animated feature to be released with stereophonic sound, dubbed “Fantasound” by the Disney public relations team.

Animation cel showing Mickey Mouse from “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”

Animation cel showing Mickey Mouse from “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence of the animated film Fantasia, ca. 1940. Copyprint of tempera on nitrate celluloid taped to watercolor on paper. Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (003.00.00)
© Disney Enterprises Inc., All rights reserved.

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Leopold Stokowski and his A Night on Bare Mountain

Miguel Covarrubias captures Leopold Stokowski (1882–1977), conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, in his trademark conducting pose. Stokowski was born in London and attended the Royal College of Music and Queen’s College, Oxford, emigrating to the United States in 1905. He worked in New York and Cincinnati before settling in Philadelphia. In 1940 Stokowski collaborated with Walt Disney to create—and then appeared in—Fantasia. For the film, he created his own adaptation of this well-known tone-poem “A Night on Bare Mountain.” This version was used for Fantasia and included Stokowski’s revised finale. Warner Brothers based their 1948 Looney Tunes episode “Long-Haired Hare” on him. He continued to conduct until 1972, when he returned to England.

Miguel Covarrubias. Leopold Stokowski, 1925. Ink brush drawing over graphite underdrawing. Published in “Prodigious Figures in the World of Music,” Vanity Fair, October 1925. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (002.00.00)

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Leopold Stokowski’s adaptation for A Night on Bare [Bald] Mountain

Leopold Stokowski’s adaptation for A Night on Bare [Bald] Mountain. Music by Modest Mussorgsky, adapted by Leopold Stokowski. Score. Leopold Stokowski Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress (001.00.00)

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Movie poster for Walt Disney’s Fantasia, 1950

Movie poster for Walt Disney’s Fantasia, 1950. Facsimile. Copenhagen: Dyva and Jeppesens Bogtrykkeri Aktieselskab, 1950. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (004.00.00) © Disney Enterprises Inc., All rights reserved.

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