Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!
In Carnegie Hall’s Family Concerts, extraordinary artists of classical, jazz, world, and pop music take children of all ages on imaginative journeys through the world of music. On December 21, the tradition continues as Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and others from the Peanuts gang join The New York Pops on the Carnegie Hall stage for a special concert presentation of A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Jean Schulz recently discussed the upcoming concert and the legacy of her late husband, creator of the beloved Peanuts comic, Charles Schulz—affectionately known as Sparky.
More than six decades have passed since the creation of Peanuts, and the characters are as popular as ever. Why do you think that is?
JS: I think Peanuts continues to resonate with fans today because the characters that Sparky created relate to everyone. Whether it’s Charlie Brown’s unrequited love for the little red-haired girl, Snoopy’s madcap daydreams about fighting the Red Baron, or even Sally’s dread over returning to school, fans can connect to the normal human emotions that are felt throughout the 18,000 strips and TV specials.
The characters that Sparky created relate to everyone.
When you think of Sparky’s legacy, what comes most to mind?
JS: I think one of the greatest joys of my life is to travel the world as an ambassador for Peanuts and hear fans of all ages tell me their unique stories about how Peanuts has touched their lives. The stories range from owning a Snoopy doll as a child to reading a particular comic strip. It’s a lovely experience.
What would your husband say if he knew A Charlie Brown Christmas was being performed on the Carnegie Hall stage?
JS: I think he would be honored. He was very proud of the work that he did with producer Lee Mendelson and director Bill Melendez. I know A Charlie Brown Christmas was particularly special because it incorporated elements that had not been previously used in cartoons. There were no adult voices, Linus read from the Bible, and of course there was Vince Guaraldi’s jazz soundtrack. Sparky, Lee, and Bill were convinced that the soundtrack would work despite hesitancy from the network executives, and they were right. What better proof than to see it performed in one of the great concert halls of the world?
Why was A Charlie Brown Christmas your husband’s favorite of the 45 Peanuts specials?
JS: Well, of course it was the first Peanuts special ever created, so I think there’s that. Additionally, I think that Sparky truly did relate to Charlie Brown’s quest to find the true meaning of Christmas. It’s nice that he found some answers.