The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (126): Baseball symphonies

The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (126): Baseball symphonies


norman lebrecht

July 19, 2020

‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ is the sport’s anthem.

But how about these? Including a baseball opera.



  • E. says:

    Re: Schumann, Stravinsky in his neoclassic period comes to mind: I like it. It’s absolutely new to me. Thanks.

    “Take me out to the game” is part of a youth spent on the other side of the pond.

  • Ross Amico says:

    Ives, “Some South-Paw Pitching”

    Sousa, “The National Game”

  • Kman says:

    Early Light by Carolyn Bremer is a take on material from the Star Spangled Banner, which is (for some reason) played before sporting events in the US. She was specifically motivated by baseball, and the slapstick at 4:15 is meant to represent the crack of a bat.

  • John Porter says:

    The Summer King, about the greatest player never to play in the white major leagues:

  • Amos says:

    Take Me Out To…will for me forever be associated with an attempt by the Cleveland Orchestra to express, with maximum clarity, musical humor. In 1954 when the World Series was between Cleveland and NY they began a rehearsal with the tune only to be admonished by GS that they were starting the rehearsal with Mahler.

  • Larry says:

    George Kleinsinger, composer of “Tubby the Tuba” and Peewee the Piccolo,” wrote the Brooklyn Baseball Cantata years ago.

    There are also settings of “Casey at Bat” for narrator and orchestra by Frank Proto, Steve Reineke and an opera by Sasha Matson, “Cooperstown: A Jazz Opera in 9 Innings.”

    Very impressed that a Brit like NL is interested in our game!!

  • Mather Pfeiffenberger says:

    Take Me Out to the Ballgame by Albert Von Tilzer and Jack Norworth with complete text:

    A few more by Charles Ives:

    Baseball Take-Off:

    All the Way Round and Back, which depicts a base runner who runs from first to third base on what he thinks is a solid line drive hit, but then has to run back suddenly from third to first when the ball goes foul:

    Old Home Day, which mentions “base hits filled the summer air”:

    Three versions of Casey at the Bat, each for narrator and orchestra:

    By Frank Proto, with Cincinnati Reds catcher great Johnny Bench as narrator:

    By Stephen Reinecke:

    By Randol Alan Bass:

    Brooklyn Baseball Cantata by George Kleinsinger with Metropolitan Opera baritone and New York Yankees fan Robert Merrill as narrator and soloist:

    And though not on a baseball topic, New Morning for the World for narrator and orchestra using texts of Martin Luther King Jr. by Joseph Schwantner, originally composed for Pittsburgh Pirates great Willie Stargell:

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Hi Mather,
      You and your posting are AWESOME. You MUST be a huge baseball fan as well as a music lover.
      There’s another Ives piece for piano: “Some Southpaw Pitching”.
      Tell me, Mather, what do you think of the designated hitter in both leagues, and in general?
      – all best regards from Greg, who SORELY misses SF GIants baseball….

      • Mather Pfeiffenberger says:

        Greg, thanks, and sorry for the delay in responding. Ross Amico already posted “Some South-Paw Pitching” above, which is why I didn’t include it in the post you’re referring to.

        As to your question, we probably shouldn’t turn this into a baseball discussion board, and I also think I’ve done a good job of pulling the wool over your eyes. I am a huge American classical music fan, but only a light baseball fan, though I enjoy it. I asked my brother John and my cousin Carl, two huge baseball fans, about the designated hitter rule and got answers both pro and con.

        I think my instinct is to be a traditionalist and to say that the pitcher is a member of the team and therefore should be in the lineup. But I see advantages to both the DH rule and no DH rule and would need to watch many more games to make a final determination.

        Hope you’ve been enjoying the Giants-Dodgers game tonight.

        • Greg Bottini says:

          Thanks, Mather!
          I did not enjoy the first two Giants-Dodgers games AT ALL, but we are up 3-1 top of the 4th in today’s game, so I’m knocking on wood.
          BTW, I’m of the opinion that things should be the way they have been for many decades: DH in the AL and no DH in the NL. It’s the natural order.
          I gotta say….it’s good to be back watching baseball again!

  • Mather Pfeiffenberger says:

    Pastime for Wind Ensemble by Jack Stamp:

  • Mather Pfeiffenberger says:

    William Schuman refashioned part of his 1953 opera The Mighty Casey as a baseball cantata Casey at the Bat (with some new music added) for the US bicentennial in 1976. As far as I know, it has not been recorded:

  • PaulD says:

    The Marx Brothers inserted it into Il Trovatore, in A Night at the Opera:

  • anon says:

    Robert Paterson wrote a lovely song cycle for tenor and piano on Mets legend Mark McGwire, called “Batter’s Box.”

  • Mather Pfeiffenberger says:

    Forever Spring, a “nine-inning” symphony by Fred Sturm (first download on this site):

    Narrator is former New York Yankee and television sportscaster Tony Kubek.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    I’m enjoying this Comfort Zone series on sports-inspired music. May we have more, please, Sir?

    Is there any cricket music out there (aside from Bartok’s night music movements, that is)?

    • Adam Stern says:

      Several ballets come to mind, even if the connections are a tad tenuous:
      • Shostakovich’s “The Age of Gold” is about a Soviet soccer team’s misadventures in an unnamed Western city.
      • Debussy’s “Jeux” chronicles the suggestive doings of a ménage à trois in the aftermath of a tennis game.
      • Copland’s “Rodeo” and Ginastera’s “Estancia” could be viewed as sports-themed, if one accepts as athletics the sorts of entertainments practiced by cowboys and ranch hands.
      • Finally, for those who prefer more sedentary pastimes, there are Stravinsky’s “Jeu des cartes” and Arthur Bliss’ “Checkmate.”

  • Adam Stern says:

    Not on quite as lofty a level as some of the other entries, perhaps, but here’s a beloved tidbit from my youth (Charlie Brown is played by a pre-M*A*S*H Gary Burghoff):

  • Jim says:

    Don’t forget Bathoven’s greatest hit!

  • Sean says:

    Not forgetting some incredible music written for baseball themed films, including the astonishing score Elliot Goldenthal wrote for the film Cobb, and James Horner’s lovely music for Field of Dreams; to name just two in a very long list.

  • Mather Pfeiffenberger says:

    It’s also worth remembering that this year is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro Leagues where Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays got their starts:

  • Mather Pfeiffenberger says:

    One final entry – the earliest baseball sheet music was The Baseball Polka composed in 1858 by John Randolph Blodgett (1830-1873), who was a member of the Niagara Nine baseball team of Buffalo, NY. History of the piece here:–BASEBALL)-Blodgett-JR-The-Baseball-Polka?saleno=2533&lotNo=219&refNo=766934

    and recording of the piece here:

  • Mather Pfeiffenberger says:

    Oh well, one more – Fanfare for Fenway by John Williams, composed in 2012 for the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park in Boston: