The Sorcerer’s Apprentice has been one of my very favorite stories and pieces of music since I first saw it on Walt Disney’s Fantasia. Let’s discuss it in two parts: the story and the music.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was written by the German writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He wrote it as a poem, “Der Zauberlehrling (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), and it was based on an ancient Egyptian legend. (Goethe is considered as famous a German writer as Shakespeare an English writer).
When Disney created the movie, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, they were careful to follow the poem and tell the story exactly as Goethe wrote it. It is about an apprentice whose job is to fetch water for his boss, the sorcerer. When the sorcerer leaves one day, the apprentice (Mickey Mouse) decides to cast a spell on a broom and put the broom to work doing his job. Everything seems to be going swimmingly well, (no pun intended) but then things take a sudden turn for the worse.
Unfortunately, Mickey doesn’t know how to break the spell and the broom continues to fetch water, filling the house. To further complicate matters, the apprentice chops the broom in pieces—only to have the pieces change into brooms already “programmed” to fetch water. Fortunately, before the apprentice drowns, the sorcerer returns and saves the day.
Paul Dukas, (1865-1935) a French composer wrote the music of Sorcerer’s Apprentice which is considered a symphonic poem (music that tells a story) and premiered in 1897. Dukas was a talented composer, but was very critical and destroyed most of the music he wrote and allowed only a very few of his musical works to be published. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is considered his most famous work.
How to Appreciate:
I think most people my age remember when they saw for the first time, Disney’s version of Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It was spellbinding; the sorcerer was downright scary, and we were hooked! To best enjoy and appreciate this, watch the Disney DVD version because it was written as a story, first, with the music following.
Because The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a story, it has all the trappings of the literary theme of consequences and choices. Yes, you can choose the beginning of the road, but not the end of the road. And all choices have consequences—both positive and negative—and like it or not, we are all responsible and accountable for the choices we make.
This is one to enjoy over and over again—it is truly a classic!
DVD: Walt Disney’s Fantasia or Fantasia 2000 (both are in the vault and would need to be rented)
Book: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Mary Jane Begin (there is a girl in this version)
Book: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Sally Grindley and Thomas Taylor