By Micaela Itona
If you grew up watching Disney films, you might vaguely remember watching parts of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000. The first Fantasia, a collection of 8 animated segments set to classical music, was released in 1940 during World War I. The concept of matching the colors and moods of classical music was developed by Walt Disney in a 1928 cartoon series called ‘Silly Symphonies’, with animations in the vein of slapstick ‘Tom and Jerry’ humor. With the popularity of Mickey Mouse in decline, Disney revived the concept and placed Mickey Mouse in the legendary animation ‘The Sorceror’s Apprentice’ (the one with all the dancing brooms and the hat that gives Mickey special powers), based on a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
The original Fantasia was the first film ever to be recorded and presented with surround sound or stereo- the illusion of sound coming from different perspectives to create a dynamic soundscape to accompany the animations. The system of recording and reproducing dynamic sound was called Fantasound, a pioneering technology developed by Disney. The Fantasia franchise spurred a theatrical sequel produced in the late 90’s. The sequel, Fantasia 2000, was nominated for and won various awards. It features perhaps the most famous segment of the Fantasia franchise – the animation inspired by the famous Al Hirschfield’s aesthetic, featuring ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ by George Gershwin.
On this Friday February 18, The Czech National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ted Sperling will be performing a selection of songs from both Fantasia films accompanied by their beloved animated segments. What makes the event unique is its live performance element. Not only is the interaction between the animation and musicianship inspiring and exhilarating to watch on screen, but the presence and interpretation of each song by the live orchestra makes the experience immersive and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the spirit of animation at its purest.