Who was really behind the mysterious NBC Olympic theme song

Most Americans recognise it within a second or two of hearing it: The trumps blasting
BUM — BUM — ba-ba-ba-BAH-BAH.
It’s the Olympic theme song that plays on endless loop during the NBC broadcasting of the games in the US and has been for decades. (In other countries, different music is used.)

But the person who’s actually behind the most recognisable part of the song hasn’t been getting his due.

John Williams is usually credited with the NBC Olympics theme song, which is only partially true.

While Williams recorded the song that is now used in the NBC Olympics broadcasts, the part most people recognise in the very beginning is actually the “Star Wars” composer’s arrangement of another tune.

The main notes everyone knows come from “Bugler’s Dream,” part of a 1958 musical suite by Frenchman Leo Arnaud, a composer who much like Williams worked in Hollywood, as the Chicago Tribune points out. This song is the true Olympic theme song that has stood the test of time (and many, many commercial breaks).

“Bugler’s Dream” has been used in Olympics telecasts since 1968, when ABC carried the games. Williams, meanwhile, wrote “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” for the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. His piece incorporates “Bugler’s Dream” in the beginning — the part NBC now plays ad nauseum. While you hear Williams’ own composed music later in the song, people aren’t nearly as familiar with that section.

When NBC started broadcasting the Olympics in 1988, it tested out other music, but eventually reverted back to the melody we all know.


NOW WATCH: 7 things you missed in the new Star Wars Rogue One trailer

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.