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Fantasia, Live!

Disney Fantasia – Live in Concert 

     In this age of 3D, HD, widescreen, 7.1 surround sound – and that’s just in your living room! – it can be hard to fathom how revolutionary Fantasia was upon its theatrical release in 1940. Neither symphony hall concertgoers nor families headed to the movies to catch the latest Disney cartoon were prepared for the breadth and depth of color and sound that poured forth from the screen. Walt Disney (1901-1966) and conductor Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977), in collaboration with the talents of 1,000-plus artists, musicians, and engineers at the Walt Disney Studio, the RCA Corporation, composer, author, and commentator Deems Taylor (1885-1966), dozens of dancers (including Marge Champion and members of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and Ballet Theatre), and the entire Philadelphia Orchestra, created a watershed cinematic experience that remains a visionary milestone to this day. Sadly, the expense of installing the Fantasound audio playback system in theaters, and the loss of the European market because of World War II, nixed Walt’s dream of an ongoing “Concert Feature,” wherein individual segments would be replaced by new ones. Though the Walt Disney Studio would utilize popular songs in several package films of the ’40s and ’50s, it would remain until 1999 and the release of Fantasia 2000, spearheaded by Walt’s nephew, Roy E. Disney, for a Disney-produced feature-length marriage of classical music and animation to once again reach the screen. 

Copyright © 2012 by Alexander Rannie