In 1986, one of the 20th century’s greatest painists, Vladimir Horowitz, returned to Moscow for the first time since 1925.
In this clip, he plays Träumerei (Dreaming), one of the 13 movements in Robert Schumann’s 1838 composition Kinderszenen. These 13 pieces were written as an ode to childhood, or — perhaps more precisely — to memories of childhood.
I wish I could say more, but — after several decades — I still lack the vocabulary to explain why this remains among the most emotionally overwhelming pieces of music I have ever heard.
I debated whether to put this clip up given that, while the song on this clip is directly from the soundtrack of the film, this visuals obviously are not. If any of you can find the clip from Disney’s Pinocchio in which Jiminy Cricket sings “When You Wish Upon a Star,” please let me know.
Perhaps the most beautiful Disney song ever, “When You Wish Upon a Star” became so popular after it appeared in Pinocchio that it has been used by Disney in various contexts ever since, a virtual company theme song.
Embarrassing confession: At times when adulthood feels so oppressive, and when it seems I can’t summon any of the feelings and images of childhood, it takes only three or four bars of this song to melt away years of cynicism. I tried to think of some appropriate words, but I am simply unable to describe how and why this song, more tha n any other, made me feel so safe and cared for as a child.
It was written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington and first heard in the 1940 Walt Disney movie Pinocchio, and it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year.
The haunting, ethereal voice of Jiminy is Cliff Edwards, a major star of vaudeville and jazz.
The only music that I find even remotely as evocative of childhood are Robert Schumann’s Kinderszenen (“Scenes from Childhood”), Opus 15, a set of thirteen pieces of music for piano written in 1838. Von fremden Ländern und Menschen and Träumerei are my favorites.