October 9

I’m Breathless: Uncovering a Lost ‘Great Pumpkin’ Musical Cue

7b09ce756565a865afcbd6d2c50e0401October 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.

snoopy-french-countrysideThe 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):


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Posted October 9, 2013 by brainstembob@yahoo.com in category "Halloween", "Music", "Pop Culture", "The 60's", "YouTube Video


  1. By Calvin on

    Yes!! I’ve always loved that scene. The flute. And it’s so true that none of the Peanuts specials made after the Thanksgiving one are worth watching. This one is a close second to the Christmas one…

    1. By brainstembob@yahoo.com (Post author) on

      The Great Pumpkin has been on TV twice this season, and I’ve watched it both times. My kids think I’m crazy : )

  2. By nina on

    A friend of mine who plays the flute would love sheet music for Breathless. Any available?

    1. By brainstembob@yahoo.com (Post author) on

      Hey Nina! I’ve never come across any sign of sheet music existing for this music…. which is too bad. Happy Halloween!

  3. By Michael Domanic on

    Awesome. We have the exact same experience with this piece of music. Do you know if it is available as a digital download somewhere?

  4. By Greg on

    This is great news – I’ve been curious for some time about this pleasant, melancholy and haunting piece in the Great Pumpkin. Now that I know John Scott Trotter wrote this piece and that it’s called “Breathless”, it is still unclear to me who performed it. Trotter or one of the members of the “Guaraldi Sextet”? As far as I can tell, the flute is not an instrument played by any of them.

    1. By LBradley on

      On the same quest…can a standard flute even play that low? Maybe an alto flute, or even some variation of a wooden flute?

  5. By Gronto on

    Great article! Thank you for posting this info. This music is one of my favorite things about Great Pumpkin.

    And the music reminds me too of the beginning of the Walt Disney World Pirates of Caribbean queue /line music.

  6. By Mike Medwick on

    Agree, agree, agree. There’s something about Trotter’s “Breathless” and the way it complements this visuals of this sequence in “Great Pumpkin” that captures the very essence of the season — at least in my own experience.


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