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Who Wrote the Music to the Peanuts/Charlie Brown Christmas Specials?

Who Wrote the Music to the Peanuts/Charlie Brown Christmas Specials?

For fifty years, Charles Monroe Schulz (November 26, 1922 – February 12, 2000) drew the “Peanuts” comic strip. “Peanuts” first appeared in American newspapers in 1950. Schulz’s famous “Peanuts” characters were virtually all children and animals: Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, et al. Schulz’s characters are so enduring probably because they reveal the failings and strengths of all human beings: Charlie Brown can never do anything right. But he tries his best. And he never stops trying!

From Wikipedia:

“While searching for just the right music to accompany a planned Peanuts Christmas special, Charles Schulz…and Lee Mendelson (the producer of the special) heard a live club performance of ‘Cast Your Fate to the Wind’ by Vince Guaraldi’s trio on the radio while traveling in a taxicab on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. Schulz demanded to be taken to the club immediately and introduced himself to Mr. Guaraldi after the set. He proposed the idea of Mr. Guaraldi scoring the upcoming Peanuts Christmas special and Mr. Guaraldi enthusiastically took the job. He went on to compose scores for sixteen Peanuts television specials, and the feature film A Boy Named Charlie Brown.


Vince GuaraldiFrom

 “The late 50s were a busy time [for Guaraldi]. Aside from studio sessions with Conte Candoli (two albums), Frank Rosolino (one album), and Cal Tjader (at least ten albums), Guaraldi toured in 1956 with Woody Herman’s third ‘Thundering Herd’, replacing Nat Pierce on piano for one season. Not too much later, just after midnight during 1958’s first annual Monterey Jazz Festival, some 6,000 rabid but by now quite tired jazz fans came to their feet when The Cal Tjader Quintet blew them away.

“Thanks in no small part to the ‘sound of surprise’ from the feisty Guaraldi, whose extended blues riffs literally had the crowd screaming for more, Tjader’s quintet received an enthusiastic standing ovation.

“National prominence was just around the corner. Inspired by the 1959 French/Portuguese film ‘Black Orpheus’, Guaraldi hit the studio with a new trio — Monte Budwig on bass, Colin Bailey on drums — and recorded his own interpretations of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s haunting soundtrack music. The 1962 album was called ‘Jazz Impression of Black Orpheus’, and ‘Samba de Orpheus’ was the first selection released as a single. Combing the album for a suitable B side number, Guaraldi’s producers finally ghettoized a modest original composition titled ‘Cast Your Fate to the Wind’…

“Fortunately, some enterprising Sacramento, California DJs turned the single over…and the rest is history.

‘Cast Your Fate to the Wind’ became a Gold Record winner and earned the 1963 Grammy as Best Instrumental Jazz Composition. It was constantly demanded during Guaraldi’s club engagements, and suddenly jazz fans couldn’t get enough of him. He responded with several albums during 1963 and ’64, perhaps the most important of which was ‘Vince Guaraldi, Bola Sete, and Friends’…”

Vince Guaraldi (July 17, 1928 – February 6, 1976) died of a sudden heart attack at the young age of 47.

After Guaraldi’s death, music for the Peanuts series was composed by jazz pianist David Benoit.

SIDEBAR:  Erroneously, many people think that Henry Mancini wrote the Peanuts soundtrack.

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