Be Our Guest, Gustav Mahler!
Amid Amidi from Cartoon Brew pointed out a distinct similarity between Alan Menkin's song "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast and a dance-like theme from the first movement of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 3. Here is the accompanying video:
I own Gustav Mahler 10 Symphonies by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Rafael Kubelik. So I already knew about the similarities between "Be Our Guest" and Mahler's Symphony No. 3, but never even thought to mention it. It's very common for popular music composers to draw from classical sources, especially for movie scores.
In fact, classical composers adopt themes from popular songs as well. Bach, Beethoven and Mozart are particularly notorious for borrowing "street songs" for some of their lighter works. This borrowing was not only accepted, but encouraged, especially among the Romantics. Rachmaninoff played piano in movie houses for a living, and Prokofiev scored films. It's only natural that classical and popular music inter-marry.
Gustav Mahler borrowed not only from drinking-songs heard in his father's Bavarian tavern, but also from marches played by a local military band in his hometown.
In the context of the symphony, this music comes as a relief, after a bombastic fanfare, and nearly ten minutes of a slow, tense, march reminiscent of a funeral dirge. Here is the theme slowly unfolding, only to be interrupted by the dirge again and again...
...this dance-like theme is nearly swallowed by other themes. But after adopting the tonality of the opening fanfare, and the heaviness of the dirge, and the crispness of the marching band, the theme emerges again, triumphant:
Composers know good music when they hear it. It's irresistible, regardless of the discipline it's from.
I'll leave you with this... the romance between the Land of Symphony and the Isle of Jazz... From Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies' Music Land.