Q: I’m really looking forward to the Winter Olympics next month. It got me thinking about that wonderfully stirring theme music NBC has used for years. Can you tell me who composed it?
A: The widely recognized, stately theme that most Americans associate with the Olympics is actually a piece called “Bugler’s Dream” and was written in 1958 by Noël “Leo” Leon Marius Arnaud.
Born July 24, 1904, in Lyon, France, Arnaud studied music with Maurice Ravel (“Bolero”) and Vincent D’Indy before immigrating to the United States in 1931. He settled in Hollywood, where he worked as a composer, arranger and orchestrator for the film industry.
In 1958, he was commissioned by the famed violinist/conductor Felix Slatkin to write a piece for an album of military music called “Charge!” Arnaud responded by writing “Bugler’s Dream.”
ABC was the first network to use the piece when it broadcast the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. ABC also used it for its show, “ABC’s Wide World of Sports.” It was so popular and distinctive that NBC retained the rights to use the music when it won the broadcasting rights in 1992. With the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, John Williams composed “Olympic Fanfare and Theme,” which is often played as a medley with Arnaud’s theme.
Arnaud retired in 1980 to his wife’s hometown of Hamptonville, N.C., where he lived until his death in April 1991.
Q: The song at the end of a recent rerun of the crime drama “Cold Case” had the words “How do I get you alone?” Is this the name of the song? Who is the singer?
A: The song that you heard on “Cold Case” was “Alone” by Heart. Although the group originated in Vancouver, British Columbia, in the early ’60s, it didn’t have much success until Ann and Nancy Wilson joined the band in the early ’70s.
The band’s debut album, “Dreamboat Annie,” was released in 1975 and was a big seller due in large part to the hits “Magic Man” and “Crazy on You.” The group's second album, “Little Queen,” was also a hit and included one of the band's most famous songs, “Barracuda”.
The next two releases, 1978’s “Dog & Butterfly” and 1980’s “Bebe Le Strange,” continued an impressive run of hit albums. During the early ’80s, however, the band's success subsided for a while as the next two albums failed to reach the top 10.
After a mid-’80s makeover for the MTV era and dropping its rock edge in favor of more mainstream songs, Heart's self-titled album brought it back to the charts in 1985 and eventually peaked at No. 1. With four Top 10 hits including the No. 1 song “These Dreams,” Heart was bigger than ever.
Heart's next albums, 1987’s “Bad Animals,” which reached No. 2 on the album charts and included the No. 1 hit “Alone,” and 1990’s “Brigade,” which included the No. 2 hit “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You,” continued its hot streak. Since then, Heart has only had moderate success on the charts.