Sep 03

MANTOVANI – “Moulin Rouge Theme”

Popular9 comments • 3,643 views

#11, 15th August 1953

Something that hardcore nostalgists occasionally lament is the disappearance of instrumentals from the pop charts. They have a point, in that it’s very rare for a bad instrumental to be remotely as bad as a bad song. To be honest though even among the classics I prefer “Dreams” to “Albatross”; I prefer the MGs as someone’s backing band and I even prefer “The Only Rhyme That Bites” to “Pacific State”.

Listening to “Moulin Rouge Theme” it’s hard to shake the impression that people knew how to bash out proper instrumentals back then: an easy swinging rhythm, a bit of obvious local colour (in this case an accordion), and the listener is whisked away to the gauloise-scented backstreets of some Paris of the mind. Oh I can mock but it works: I was mildly yet thoroughly entertained by “Moulin Rouge Theme” and even a little unhappy when it ended. Even more accordion and it would have been better yet.



  1. 1
    Marcello Carlin on 8 Nov 2007 #

    Once more I think of immediate postwar Britain (even though the tune doesn’t directly have anything to do with Britain); people tucking into bed early, perhaps more scared of the future than they care to let on, the world changing around them in ways they can scarcely lead themselves to comprehend, the lingering promise of an imminent better world, maybe too many things still suppressed. So when I listen to this I think of closedown on the Light Programme or the Home Service, a lullaby for an uneasy nation, reassuring, soothing…

    “It’s OK, it’s OK…no more bad stuff…”

  2. 2
    intothefireuk on 8 Nov 2007 #

    Not sure it conjures up too many images of Paris for me save for the very light smattering of accordion, but it is a very lovely, soothing piece. I can imagine Marcello’s scenario where it fits cosily into post-war Britain’s bedtime routine with, perhaps, a cup of Ovaltine and a digestive biscuit.

    I would definitely be of the school of thought that instrumentals can be far more powerful & endearing than songs, and out of the examples given by Tom, Albatross, Pacific & Green Onions or Time Is Tight would all take some beating.

  3. 3
    AndyPandy on 15 Jan 2009 #

    Another superbly atmospheric piece which I accidentally missed out in my post which mentioned my personal favourite 50s number ones. IMO this is far superior to the Percy Faith version which was THE version in America although this was another rare British 50s hit in the American charts.
    Incidentally I remember when I was about 14 I used to do my homework while listening to Kid Jensen (or later on Peter Powell) on Radio One and they used to count down the Top 20 (or 30?)albums and play a track off the new entries. One week Mantovani had a new entry and for about the first time ever (obviously because Mantovani was hardly considered suitable for the “happening sound” of 1979/1980 Radio 1) they didnt play a track of the album in question.

    Well I can’t pretend I would have been big on Mantovani at the time but I always thought it somehow wasn’t right that theyd made that unilateral decision and that it raised questions about the whole idea of where they drew the line about what was suitable for a play on Radio 1 back then.

  4. 4
    Billy Smart on 19 Mar 2009 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: Mantovani & his Orchestra were given their own TV showcase on SHOW OF THE WEEK 21 times between 1968 and 1974. Seven editions survive.

  5. 5
    Eli on 19 Dec 2010 #

    “Light orchestral music” was big business in the 50s. Is anyone still making it? Stuff like Mantovani is great for those of us a tad too scared of classical music; instead, we stick with the jukebox version. I imagine this is why Mantovani and his ilk sold so well in the 50s – classical music was just too highbrow for most of the British public, and this was the digestable version.

    It’s all very relaxing, and rather beautiful really…

  6. 6
    crag on 13 Apr 2011 #

    DESERT ISLAND DISC WATCH (Up to 11/04/11)

    Percy Thrower, Horticulturist(1963).

  7. 7
    enitharmon on 13 Apr 2011 #

    Oh, what a wonderful idea crag! Following through, there’s some wonderful juxtapostions of selector and selected! Are you going to keep it up or would you like some help?

  8. 8
    Rufus Headroom on 4 Jun 2016 #

    Ride down The Moulin Rouge on a magic accordion to a swirling wonderland of sparkling, white pleasure. Let it fill your senses with cascading fluffy pillows of comfort and excitement as you have never felt before.

    Er, nice tune. Listening to this is like floating down a river of champagne, warm and bubbly. An easy 7.

  9. 9
    Gareth Parker on 8 Jun 2021 #

    Nice sweeping track from Mantovani. 6/10 imho.

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