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The Dance of the Hours originates as a ballet sequence within Ponchielli's major operatic hit, La Gioconda. Popular in its own time, it is the only Italian 'grand opera', aside from Verdi's Aida, to have remained within the repertoire. Moreover, Dance of the Hours stands out as the only operatic ballet from this genre to have established a life of its own both inside the concert hall and in pop culture. Though it is a delightfully charming piece of musical fluff, the dramatic events surrounding the ballet in the opera are quite tumultuous, featuring all the murder, lust, false deaths, and suicides that one could hope for in grand opera. In the present day, the comic strains of the music conjure lighter images. Perhaps the most iconic use of this music is in Disney's 1940 film Fantasia, where it underscores the questionable talents of a dance company comprised of hippos, ostriches, and alligators. Later it surfaced again as a number two hit on the pop charts in 1963, this time with words by parodist Alan Sherman. It may be difficult now to listen to this music without remembering the opening words of an alarmist child's letter to his parents from summer camp: "Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda…".

- Composer John Glover is the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Publications Assistant.

07/07