If you're like some Cracked readers, you own an extensive collection of classical music that you listen to during one of your daily top hat parties or afternoon pipe appraisal sessions. This article isn't for you.
For the rest of you, while you may not be that familiar with all classical music, surely some pieces have reached you after becoming absorbed by pop culture. Some are used in movies, or TV shows, or really intense Super Bowl promos, but the point is, they're everywhere today. You can hum them on cue, you get them stuck in your head, and you have entirely mistaken ideas regarding their meanings. They almost certainly include:
6"Here Comes the Bride" (aka "Bridal Chorus" by Wagner)
Why You Know It:
The title "Bridal Chorus" might not stick in your head, but surely "Here Comes the Bride" does, unless you've never been to a wedding or seen one on television or have been completely removed from pop culture for your entire life. It's been played by everything from pipe organs to a full kazoo orchestra as the bride walks down the aisle. When you hear it, you know the bride is on her way, probably all dressed in white, and that a wonderful, loving wedding is about to take place.
Followed by a few hours in whichever motel is closest to the church.
The Original Context:
The tune comes from the opera Lohengrin, where the "Bridal Chorus" is actually sung to the heroine Elsa and her new husband, Lohengrin, by her handmaidens after the wedding, not before! Hah! That's a pretty wacky misunderstanding. People have been getting that wrong for years! Oh, and after that song, Lohengrin murders the fuck out of five wedding guests before ditching Elsa.
So yeah. World War II makes a little more sense now.
Lohengrin is not a happy opera, as you probably could have guessed from all that murdering Lohengrin did. The marriage lasts all of two songs, after which Lohengrin abandons Elsa, and opera being opera, Elsa dies of grief. So the organ music you hear at a wedding is less celebratory and more like an ominous, foreshadowy, shit's-bout-to-go-down sort of thing. They might as well play the theme from Jaws.
It's pretty much not a wedding until someone pulls a sword.