This music mystery comes from the distant past of my childhood, when I had a set of superhero story books and tapes produced by DC Comics and Fisher Price. I loved those things. I listened to them all the time. And of course, my mom got rid of them at some point (she was only doing her duty). So I’m collecting them again. I just bought my first one a couple of weeks ago on eBay—Superman: From Krypton to Metropolis. Tonight I listened to it and practiced my archiving skills by recording it onto my computer and burning it onto a CD. Since it was over 20 years old, I half expected the tape to already be worn out and warbly, but it was in admirable condition.
The stories in this series were read dramatically (in both senses) by a cast and accompanied by sound effects and music. They were done so well, and I listened to them so often, that they have defined how I think of superhero comics, at least from the DC universe. They captured the noble, larger-than-life spirit of the stories.
The tapes also contained some musical mysteries. When I was young I thought the music had been written specifically for them, but I was surprised to hear the Batman music while watching the original Fantasia. It was Night on Bald Mountain. They had used classical music. So I’ve always wondered what they had chosen for the rest. I’m not well versed in classical music, or most any music, in fact.
I was especially curious about the Superman tape. I associate two themes with Superman, the John Williams music from the movies and the music from that tape. Fortunately, the credits in the back of the book gave me some clues. For “Contributing Composers” they listed Richard Wagner and Anton Dvorak. So I made a trip to the Classical Archives. I looked at Dvorak first because I figured he had written less music. I decided they had probably used something famous, so I listened to his 9th Symphony, “From the New World.” And I found that I liked it. I’m used to being bored by classical music. Anyway, I did recognize the beginning of the fourth movement from one part of the tape, but that wasn’t the main theme I was looking for. But it was a lucky guess nonetheless!
I decided to give Wagner a try. I thought it was probably buried in the middle of Die Walkurie (some other time), but I found something famous and short to start off with, Overture to the Flying Dutchman. And I didn’t go any further, because that was it.
Hurray! I’m getting pretty good at this. 😉 And now I can listen to Wagner while reading the Superman comic archives. 🙂