Descriptions of the Music in Big Love by Charles Mee

 

The number next to each song is the approximate page in which it is used within the play 

 

Watch the youtube videos above to listen to each song - the playlist is in the order of the songs below. 

  • Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. “Wedding Processional Music.” Marriage of Figaro 1786. (1)

    • Written as part of the opera, Marriage of Figaro, which is one of the most famous Operas to this day. The song is a piece of popular wedding processional music and has an upbeat triumphant feel, and is many times used as a piece of recessional music played after the couple is married. The piece juxtaposes the look Lydia portrays, disheveled and defeated, but is also fitting since we learn she has literally receded from her wedding.

 

  • Pachelbel, Johann. “Canon in D.” 1680s (2)

    • Pachabel's Canon in D is an extremely popular piece of classical music. It is common to hear at graduations and other important ceremonies such as weddings and funerals as it has peaceful undertones that support many occasions. The piece is extremely soothing, generally played on strings and has an airy lightness that serves to enhance the relaxation and salvation Lydia finds at the Villa.

 

  • Clarke, Jeremiah. “Trumpet Voluntary.” 1700s (9)

    • The Prince of Denmark's March, commonly called the Trumpet Voluntary, is a musical composition (a march) written circa. 1700, by English baroque composer Jeremiah Clarke. It is a popular wedding march and has a grand and triumphant feeling.

 

  • Madara, John, and Dave White. "You Don't Own Me" Lesley Gore. Mercury Records, 1963.  (10)

    • The song is the empowerment of woman's strength and choice, nicely connecting to feminism in the Big Love by CHarles Mee. The lyrics became an inspiration for many young women to truly believe that she is not owned by a man and that she can make her own decisions. It has been used in other performance outlets, such as The First Wives Club where the use of the song nicely parallels Big Love.

 

  • Bingham, Clifton and James Lynam Molloy. “Love's Old Sweet Song.” 1884. (17)

    • One of the most popular of all Victorian ballads, this has words by Graham Clifton Bingham, whose ‘Love, could I only tell thee?’ He claimed to have written the lyrics of ‘Love’s Old Sweet Song’ at four in the morning.

 

  • Welk, Lawrence. “Champagne Music.” 1930s-40s  (17)​

    • In 1938 the orchestra performed at the St. Paul Hotel in Pittsburg PA where their music was coined “Champagne Music”. They received this title because there was music was described as “effervescent, like champagne”. The orchestra was a full jazz band that focused on jazz and big band music.

 

  • Stanley, Charles John. “Trumpet Voluntary.” 1700s (29)

    • Another popular song chosen for wedding processional or recessional music. It has an upbeat tempo and a regal feeling. The song can be played with an orchestra or alone by a trumpet or organ.

 

  • Bach, Johann Sebastian. “Sleeper’s Awake!” Cantata No. 14. 1731 (37)

    • This beautiful song is based on a hymn by Phillip Nicolai which was written in 1599. The accompaniment is paired with a choral arrangement, which is traditionally on recordings and throughout history sung by male choirs.

 

  • *Fitzgerald, Ella. By Lorentz Hart and Richard Rogers. “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.” Pal Joey. 1940 (44)*

    • A jazz standard from the 1940 musical hit, Pal Joey. The song’s meaning is directly related to the lyrics, as the singer has becomes completely bewitched by the person they’ve fallen in love with.

 

  • George Frideric Handel. “Air from Water Music” Suite No.1. 1717 (49)

    • Air is part of the three orchestral suites that make up “Water Music” by Handel. This part of the suite is generally played on strings and has a passionate, yet light and airy feeling like its title.

 

  • Bach, Johann Sebastian. “Air on the G-String.” 1730s  (59)

    • Another listening selection

    • Mee refers to this piece with the description- “From the largo”- largo means slow and broad, which is defining term of the songs tempo and style not song title.

 

  • Charpentier, Marc-Antoine. “Prelude to Te Deum.” 1690s (61)

    • This is the prelude to Charpentier’s famous “polyphonic classic music motet” called Te Deum in D. Polyphonic refers to the texture of sounds which have more than one line of music being sung simultaneously and each line of music is a different melody.  A motet is music composition for highly varied choral parts. Big Love uses the prelude which is only instrumental.

 

  • Wagner, Richard. “Wedding March: Bridal Chorus”. Lohengrin. 1850 (82)

    • Wagner created the “Bridal Chorus” what is known in the western world as the traditional “Bridal March”; the “Here Comes the Bride” melody that marks a bride’s entrance at many weddings.

 

  • Handel, George Frideric. “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.” Solomon (83)

    • From Solomon which is an oratorio; a large musical composition that is for soloists, choirs, and orchestral performers. (It is basically musical.) The passage taken is from Act Three of the piece and features strings. This melody become famous from its usage and the 2012 Olympics for “James Bond’s” entrance. 

    • 2012 Olympic Opening

 

  • Widor, Charles-Marie. “Widor’s Toccata or Widor's 5th Symphony in F minor.” 1879 (83)

    • The full piece has 5 movements which is total the five symphonies last for approximately 35 minutes. The Toccata is just over 6 minutes and it has become a popular song to be used for wedding recessional music. The composition has an extremely interesting melody that consists of arpeggios*, which continuously move from chord to chord in fifths. Also there is a strong accented rhythm present, created by the syncopated chords produced by the left hand.

    • * Arpeggios are when notes in a chord are played one after another, instead of just holding out the chord as one tone. Arpeggiare is the Italian form of the word which translates to “to play on a hard”.

 

  • Gounod, Charles and Johann Sebastian Bach. “Ave Maria” 1835 (83)

    • The song is recognizable and is generally performed as a soprano solo or choir arrangement. The song began as an improvisation and was later turned into a violin arrangement, which also included piano.

    • Beyoncé’s version just for fun

 

  • Handel, George Frideric. “Pena Tiranna.” Amadigi. 1715 (83)

    • This is an alto solo which is considered to be extremely passionate, beautiful, and moving. It’s from a three act Opera called Amadigi.

 

  • Mendelssohn, Felix. “Wedding March.” A Midsummer Night's Dream. 1842 (98)

    • In conjunction with Wagner’s Bridal chorus, which is listed above, this is the most commonly played song at a wedding. The Bridal Chorus is most common for the precessional, while Felix Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” is most traditionally heard for a recessional. It has a triumphant, bright, and excited sound, the perfect celebratory music after a wedding ceremony has concluded.

Jill Jacobs | Dramaturg & Website Designer | Big Love by Charles Mee | Update  2020 | Contact