Trivia

Hard

The Iconic Opening Music In 2001: A Space Odyssey Is From Which Of These Classical Compositions?

Lux Aeterna
Also Sprach Zerathustra
Atmospheres
The Blue Danube
The cover artwork for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.
MGM Records/Warner Media, LLC/AT&T

Answer: Also Sprach Zerathustra

Even if you don’t know the name of the piece and have not watched Stanley Kubrick’s iconic film 2001: A Space Odyssey, we feel pretty comfortable in betting that you’ve heard the even more iconic opening to the film. The powerful brass, framed by the introduction of stringed instruments and then driven forward by a powerful and thumping percussion section is, without doubt, one of the most identifiable classical music pieces in history.

That’s because the opening music for 2001: A Space Odyssey is also the opening music to the Richard Strauss symphony, Also sprach Zerathustra, composed in 1896. The full composition was an instant success and has been part of the repertoire of classical music performances ever since—cementing the initial fanfare, noted as “Sunrise” in Strauss’s composition notes, in the public mind.

The opening of Kubrick’s film, which coupled “Sunrise” fanfare with an actual sunrise and the rise of civilization, further cemented the composition into the public’s mind and, over a century after it was first showcased, it remains as memorable as ever.

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