Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wonderful Copenhagen warms my heart



There were two sixth-grade classes at Mount Rose School in Reno when I became a sixth-grader there. My teacher, Mrs. Haight, was a capable, moon-faced, gray-haired woman who had a special interest in maintaining a friendly sort of order in her classroom. Somehow we knew that it would not be worth testing her limits, and so, order prevailed. She brought history alive and was marvelous at bringing huge pull-down maps alive with stories that she sometimes supplemented with slide shows of places around the world.

Mrs. Haight, who signed my autograph book at the end of the year: To my talkative girl, was a better-than-average teacher. But she was not musical, and there is where the other sixth grade class excelled in luck by having been blessed with a teacher who conducted a music hour each day. My desk was in the far right row of the classroom, the side that shared a wall with the musical sixth graders. Situated in the wall next to where I sat was a built-in bookcase that cut the depth of the dividing wall enough for me to clearly hear the piano playing for the the other class as they learned new songs. In fact, if I shut out what Mrs. Haight was talking about and concentrated really hard I could pick out words and sometimes entire phrases to those songs.

My favorite song that I learned through the wall with the other sixth grade was Wonderful Copenhagen. As they rehearsed line-by-line I had to control myself to not hum when they got to the glorious chorus led by the piano's flourish. I was so smitten with the tune that, in the lunchroom one day, I sought out a former fifth-grade friend who was fortunate enough to be in the other sixth grade class and I asked for confirmation of the title and all the lyrics of the song. She fleshed out the whole piece for me as we ate. Wonderful Copenhagen was the most wonderful thing I learned in the sixth grade. I finally had the soundtrack for Mrs. Haight's slide shows and for my own daydreams.

(It's not lost on me now that this is, basically, a drinking song.)




Years ago the Danish Capital was knicknamed Wonderful Copenhagen. It happened in 1952 when the Hollywood movie Hans Christian Andersen became an international success at the time. It was a fictionalised, romanticised story revolving around the life of the Danish poet and story-teller Hans Christian Andersen, not a 'biographical' movie.
The lead role of the Hans Christian Andersen movie was played by Danny Kaye and the song Wonderful Copenhagen soon became an evergreen in the USA as well as abroad. The Wonderful Copenhagen song was written and composed by the American lyrist and composer Frank Loesser.- from VisitCopenhagen.com

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15 comments:

Margo said...

what a fun story. I've never been there, but the street scene in your card is familiar - it must be one of Copenhagen's famous streets. When my husband went there once he took a pic of a Little Mermaid statue in the water - I was thrilled but he said it was a tad disappointing in context. Happy PFF!

dmarks said...

Wonderful place. A great city in Sweden. Or so Rush Limbaugh said yesterday.

kj said...

and is there any connection here with the climate talks taking place in this fair city?

i can't listen to the song, lydia, because my household is sleeping,but i'll come back. meanwhile, here's wishing you a good day. i hope you sing now.

xoxo

Lydia said...

@Margo- I've never been there, but I don't think I'd be disappointed! Yes, that one street is photographed over and over. :)

@dmarks- Really, Rush said that? What an idiot.

@kj- Yes, there is. :)
I'm singing...

Looking to the Stars said...

I loved your memories of being in the 6th grade :)
I love this song too, the first time I heard it was the movie with Danny Kaye. In fact, they had this movie on about a month ago. My hubby and I set down and watched it, loving every minute of it :)

Nancy said...

This post made me smile. I can see how the song may have originally been a drinking song.

bfk said...

Gee, Lydia, I never heard that song before. But I love Copenhagen and all those accompanying (and apt) photos brought it right back. Thanks.

The Stylish House said...

How funny that little ditty turned out to be a drinking song! Its lyrics are lighthearted, so I understand why the kids enjoyed singing it, and you strained to hear it. Isn't it funny how some of the best moments in life are unexpected? It's perfect years later you remember hearing the music from the class next door, and write about that experience. I follow the interesting path when possible. It might not be the one that makes the most sense, but it makes for an interesting adventure.
I loved Danny Kaye in Hans Christian Andersen. It was a great movie, and he was such a talent. When I lived overseas I regularly laid over in Amsterdam and often thought of him. My next trip will be to Scandinavia, and if I’m lucky I will be able to hear this song and sing along in person.
I enjoyed my visit!
Cathy

RB said...

Here's to talkative girls!

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Absolutely beautiful! The photo is just great.

Lydia said...

@Looking to the Stars- I think that is amazing that you not only also love the song, but that you actually viewed the movie recently! I don't recall ever seeing it but know I'd enjoy it.

@Nancy- Glad you smiled. I'm not sure if it was originally a drinking song, per se', because it was written for that Danny Kaye movie. Perhaps someone like Looking to the Stars will remember if there was a scene where people lifted their glasses and toasted the old city, as the lyrics mention. It sure has that tavern-singing tempo, though, and I can imagine people singing it together when out on the town.

@bfk- Hard to believe that I taught you a song! Promise me that you'll sing it if you visit Copenhagen again.

@The Stylish House- See my further comments above to Nancy about it being a drinking song. Based on the lyrics and the swaying tempo it just seems so to me...
I loved Danny Kaye, and may have seen him in this movie when I was a kid. But I don't remember that one. I remember one about pennies, where he sang "Pennies from Heaven," but can't remember the name of the film. I am fascinated that he was on your mind when you laid over in Amsterdam.
I absolutely agree with you that the best moments in life are unexpected. Where I shouldn't need a reminder to follow the interesting path when possible, life has been kind of a drudge around here lately - so I did need the reminder and thank you for it. (And I think that I needed to hear this happy song for the very same reason!)

@KB- hehe- Thanks for picking up on that little fact! My mother was actually proud of me for that...I remember she smiled broadly when she read it.

@Phivos- I think the photo and the scenes in the video are all so beautiful. I love the brightly-painted buildings and wonder how old they must be. It's very romantic for me to imagine being there.

earthtoholly said...

What an uplifting slice of your childhood, Lydia! I understand how that catchy tune could easily hijack your thoughts and take you to another place---I'm sure Mrs. Haight would understand. :o)

And those pics are awesome... especially that huge moon.

Lydia said...

@earthtoholly- Looking back from my now-adult perspective I am sure you are right that Mrs. Haight would understand. :)

Sarah Sofia Ganborg said...

to tell you the truth, I also loved the song and then when I first came here, I was shocked, that it wasn't wonderful at all.
But then again, it's probably much better than most cities... but if you want to enjoy Denmark, forget about Copenhagen, go to the countryside and enjoy the beaches!

Lydia said...

Sarah Sofia~ O, we can still think of the song as wonderful simply because we always loved it!
Good tip on what to see in Denmark (but I would still love to see Copenhagen) -- and as usual you make me envy your many travels. :)

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