I’m Breathless: Uncovering a Lost ‘Great Pumpkin’ Musical Cue
October is one of my very favorite months for lots of reasons.. the cooler temperatures, the beautiful explosion of color as the leaves on the trees put on one last show before winter, Octoberfest beers…. and Halloween. And one of my favorite things about Halloween is that it gives me an excuse to watch ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.’ I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve missed it in any of my 44 years on earth. It’s to the point where if I MISS it, I will be depressed for days. This is crazy, because I’ve owned it on DVD for probably 15 years. Click through for the full post and a glimpse of these magical music.
The best thing about the Great Pumpkin classic is Snoopy’s imaginary trek through the French countryside after his plane is shot down behind enemy lines during World War I. Damn that Red Baron! The whole scene, which only lasts a minute or two, is set to music that creates the perfect mood for the visuals. It’s really only a flute playing in a lower octave with some sound effects in the background, but it’s perfect.
For years, I’ve been searching for this music cue; since Vince Guaraldi composed the music for all of the Peanuts television shows, I wrongly assumed he had written this piece as well. The Charlie Brown specials have had their soundtracks released in different forms for decades, but I’ve never seen this particular music show up anywhere, and it’s been driving me crazy.
Now, thanks to the miracle of the internet, I have located this music, and may now die happily. With a little digital snooping, I was able to discover that this brief little piece of music wasn’t written by Vince Guaraldi at all, but rather by somebody by the name of John Scott Trotter.
Mr. Trotter is apparently a very successful music composer, conductor and supervisor. In fact, he’s listed as the music producer and orchestra leader for many, many of the Peanuts shows (but let’s face it, none of them after the Thanksgiving special are really any good. They’re actually pretty terrible.) His other major credit is as the band leader and theme show composer for the George Gobel Show. Hmm.
While Vince Guaraldi should rightly be considered a genius for his jazzy scores to the Peanuts shows, John Scott Trotter gets a special commendation in my book for adding something special to the brilliant Great Pumpkin special. And the name of this little musical wonder? ‘Breathless.’ And here it is (music starts about 15 seconds in):