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Top Five Google Doodles on a Classical Theme

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We have a sneaking suspicion that there are a number of classical music and opera fans at Google. Over the past several years, the company has left a melodious trail of breadcrumbs in television advertisements for its Chrome search engine, its invitees to the Musicians@Google series, and most obviously in the Google Doodle. Over the past 10 years, the company’s insignia has been adapted to honor a number of our favorite composers and musical innovators. We selected our five favorite illustrations:

1. Claude Debussy

One of the more intricate, and poignant Doodles honored Claude Debussy on the day of his 151th birthday. This animation—a dreamy nightscape scanning a riverbank and its shore of flickering lights, puffing smokestacks and shooting stars—unfolds to the composer’s much beloved Clair de Lune. The architecture of the cartoon was built around the audio data from a recording of the piece; still critics praised the work, calling it the most elegant Doodle to date.


2. Robert Moog

The invention of Robert Moog’s synthesizer was a watershed moment for electronic music. And Google commemorated the innovator’s 78th birthday with a virtual equivalent to the actual instrument. The company developed an interactive digital keyboard that surfers on the web could play with their mouse or computer keyboard. Even the controls for the mixer, volume, and the attached recorder worked, spawning a collection of web-only videos.


3. Gioachino Rossini

It takes an opera buff to remember that Gioachino Rossini was born on Leap Year, but it takes a true lover to combine the two occasions into one meaningful image. Such was the case on February 29, 2012, when Google posted a Doodle with swampy production of The Barber of Seville with frogs playing the lead roles. The aquatic scene depicts Rosina jumping—er, leaping—into the air during her singing lesson with the disguised Count Almaviva.


4. Luciano Pavarotti

The earliest Doodle catering specifically to the classical music fan that we could fine was posted on Oct. 12, 2007, Luciano Pavarotti’s 72nd birthday. The Italian tenor had died barely a month earlier, when Google sketched the singer’s likeness into its logo. The simple illustration of Pavarotti, brandishing his trademark scarf, was a melancholy, yet touching commemoration.


5. Clara Schumann

As an accomplished pianist, composer and teacher, Clara Schumann seemed an obvious choice for a Doodle, at least according to company brass, and was so honored on her 193rd birthday. The resulting illustration shows Schumann with her eight children, seated at the piano. However, this blissful scene is probably not realistic, as Schumann and her more famous composer husband Robert had a notoriously troubled marriage.

Watch an animation of the Debussy Doodle and weigh in: What has been your favorite?