Rock Me Amadeus

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Last week, President Obama awarded San Francisco Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas the National Medal of Arts for his efforts to win over a wider audience for classical music. In our current issue, MTT talks with MJ‘s Clara Jeffery about the philosophy behind his work, his love of nonclassical artists such as James Brown, and experiments such as organizing the first ever YouTube symphony. Check it out. Or take a moment to enjoy these greatest hits of classical music crossover:

1885 The Boston Pops is launched to bring classical music to the masses.

1940 Disney’s Fantasia. Money loser until 1969 re-release makes it a stoner classic.

1957 Elmer Fudd + Wagner = “Kill Da Wabbit.”

1958 Leonard Bernstein conducts his first televised Young People’s Concert.

1968 2001: A Space Odyssey immortalizes Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra.

1976A Fifth of Beethoven” disco remix.

1984 Amadeus wins eight Oscars.

1990 The Three Tenors storm charts.

1998 Georgia aims for “Mozart effect” by giving new moms classical CDs.

2002 Nas samples Beethoven’s “Für Elise.”

2007 BBC launches a reality show to reclaim classical music from “posh old white people.”

2009 YouTube Symphony Orchestra and MTT play Carnegie Hall