A brief history of how much Mozart's music rocked classic TV
From Lurch playing a sonata on the Addams Family to Winchester blaring his music on the M*A*S*H finale, TV kept Mozart firmly woven in the pop fabric.
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After The Addams Family theme song ends at the start of the episode "Lurch and His Harpsichord," we see the tall TV butler seated at a piano, playing some Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
The sounds of Lurch tickling the ivories can be recognized as "Piano Sonata No. 16." It's one of Mozart’s simplest tunes, something he never published in his lifetime, but a song that became quite popular in the centuries since.
While Mozart's music has scored movies since the 1930s, popular TV shows didn’t really turn to the influential Classical composer to help them set scenes until the 1960s, when Bachelor Father featured a kid playing two songs on the piano: "Chopsticks" and Mozart's "Divertimento in F major."
After that sitcom gave Mozart a spin, perhaps it was The Twilight Zone that tapped Mozart the most evocatively next. In "Miniature," a dollhouse figurine plays another piano sonata to more haunting effect, using it to lure a young Robert Duvall into leaving the world as he knows it behind.
In the Seventies, Mozart kept rocking the TV, particularly on Columbo, where the soaring song "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" — which translates to "a little night music" — was used in not one, but two episodes in 1972.
It was around this time that musically-minded shows from The Muppet Show to WKRP in Cincinnati also turned to the famous composer to hit certain notes.
Many Looney Tunes fans likely associate Mozart with Bugs Bunny and his pals, as his music was woven more and more into the franchise as it has grown into modern day.
But perhaps the biggest impact Mozart made on TV happened in the 1980s, when M*A*S*H had Winchester blare the song "Clarinet Quintet I Allegro" from his phonograph in the series finale. Later in the same episode the song was performed again by Chinese musicians.
That means there was an encore of Mozart in TV's famously most-watched episode!
This wasn't the first time that M*A*S*H wove Mozart's music into its wartime chronicles, having featured a piano sonata or two in prior episodes in 1975 and 1979.
Whether M*A*S*H made it hip or not, by the 1990s, Mozart was on every single hit show, including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Seinfeld, Friends and every iteration of Star Trek.
Currently, IMDb reports that Mozart featured on the soundtrack of more than 1,700 movies and TV productions.
In his lifetime, Mozart influenced notable composers like Ludwig van Beethoven and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. But as creative as the musical genius was, there’s no way he ever imagined his songs would remain such a significant part of the pop culture fabric for hundreds of years past the moment he first played them, crossing time and media and still rocking TV today.