June 2012

Bugler's Dream

by Leo Arnaud

Continuing with the Olympic theme, I thought it only fitting to include the piece of music that is probably most associated with the Olympic Games.

Leo Arnaud (pronounced ar-NO) was born in Lyon, France in 1904. He studied music composition in Lyon and Paris, and occasionally came in contact with some big names (Maurice Ravel being among the most prominent). He came to the US in 1931 and joined MGM as an arranger, composer and orchestrator. He has done film scores and orchestrations for many classic films including "The Girl of the Golden West", "The Wizard of Oz", and "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers".

Unlike last month's "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" by John Williams, "Bugler's Dream" was not written for the Olympics. In 1958, conductor Felix Slatkin was putting together an album, titled "Charge!" He commissioned Arnaud to compose a piece for the album. Arnaud wrote a piece called "The Charge Suite". In this suite is a movement called "Bugler's Dream."

Ten years later (1968), ABC (American Broadcasting Company) was preparing to cover the Tenth Winter Olympics, hosted in Grenoble, France. This would be the first time the Olympic Games would be broadcast live and in color. Some ABC representatives had come across "The Charge Suite" by Arnaud (a French composer), and were particularly interested in "Bugler's Dream". They spoke to the composer and the publisher and received permission to use the piece as the theme for ABC's coverage of the games. It would play at the beginning and at every commercial break. So, particularly in the US, this piece has become synonymous with the Olympic Games. Many mistakenly presume it to be the official Olympic Theme. It has been used for US coverage of the Olympic Games ever since.

Jon's Introduction to This Piece:

I don't have any memory of being introduced to this piece. I probably first heard it during the broadcasts of the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, West Germany, but I would have been about 18 months old. I would say that the first Olympic Games that I have a memory of really paying attention would be the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid (I'd have been 9 years old for that one; almost 10).

I would continue to have a fondness for the theme in successive Olympic Games. Plus, the theme was used in Epyx software's "Summer Games" series of video games (I played the Commodore 64 version).


And here it is! Also to ring in the 30th (XXX) Olympiad, here is "Bugler's Dream" by Leo Arnaud. Enjoy!

Bugler's Dream by Leo Arnaud (0:59)

For those interested, this recording was performed by the Cleveland Symphonic Winds conducted by Frederick Fennell. As I understand it, Leo Arnaud, himself, performed the percussion part in this recording.

Jon's Interpretation:

My one complaint about this piece is that it's too short. It is an incredibly majestic and powerful use of brass. The two-part harmonies used in the main theme are just brilliant. They make you want to stand a little taller and be a little better. And the percussion (particularly the timpani) is, of course, awesome.

I have actually teared up sometimes listening to this piece. To me, it embodies triumph, power, might and majesty.

Around the time of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Becky and I were known for singing Bugler's Dream. Becky would sing the main melody, and I would sing the harmony part. It sounded good enough that people requested it. ;-) Keep an ear out at AppleFest this year. We'll probably be singing it there, too.

Extra Credit:

In 1996, John Williams released a medley on his album "Summon the Heroes" (which is the name of the piece he wrote for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia). The medley starts with an extended version of Arnaud's "Bugler's Dream", but then goes into Williams' "Olympic Fanfare and Theme." Enjoy!

Bugler's Dream and Olympic Fanfare Medley by John Williams (4:30)

And of course, I'd have to provide the original starting theme from Epyx's Summer Games. Enjoy the 8-bit goodness!