Disney movies, for many of you, were a big part of your childhood. The Disney theme, which is from the song, “When you wish upon a star”, brings up many childhood memories of the Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin (I was a 90s kid), and the other classics I watched as a kid, in my pre-music nerd days.
But something awesome I discovered a few years ago was that this theme may not be original to Disney. Or at least not intentionally (we don’t know). I was reading a forum discussion (nerdy piano stuff) and someone shared a video of Brahms’ Capriccio Op 76 No 2, and I was like “?!? (Translation: I was flabbergasted). You’ll see why in a minute. But first we must explore how this theme may have come about.
The song “When you wish upon a Star” appeared in the movie Pinocchio, which was released in 1940 (when you see these movies as a kid you don’t realize how old they are). Brahms, one of the great composers, lived from 1833 – 1897, so he died about 40 years before the movie came out. So Brahms would be in the generation of the Disney writers’ parents and grandparents. That is weird when you think that 60 years before Pinocchio, many of the great composers were alive (*music nerd excitement*). In the early days of Disney, they were very close to the end of the Romantic Era, and likely influenced by that style of music.
You can’t find much information out there that finds this connection between Brahms’ piece and the Disney song. Very few online have noticed this similarity, so we can only speculate about the origin of the Disney theme.
Here is the Disney Theme (the part we’re looking at is 00:12):
The theme appears at the end of the middle section of Brahms’ Capriccio Op 76 No 2.
1:51- Almost the Disney theme
2:00- “When you wish upon a-a-a-a-a-a-a star”, Disney theme with a little embellishment there
You may be sitting there now not knowing what to do with this information, or contemplating the originality of Disney, but just remember, however this theme came about, it came from an excellent source (if you needed your faith restored in Disney again).
And you probably know something none of you friends know. 🙂