Peanuts Piano Playing Schroeder

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More Cartoons    List of Peanuts Characters   SchroederToys

Buy Schroeder's Greatest Hits

Schroeder is a character in the long-running comic strip Peanuts, created by Charles M. Schulz. He is distinguished by his precocious skill at playing the toy piano, as well as by his love of classical music and the composer Ludwig van Beethoven in particular. Schroeder is also the catcher on Charlie Brown's baseball team, though he is always seen walking back to the mound with the baseball, never throwing it—admitting in one strip he didn't want the other team to discover his lack of ability. He is also the object of Lucy van Pelt's unrequited infatuation-who leans on Schroeder's piano. Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, Frieda and Snoopy are also occasionally depicted as leaning on Schroeder's piano.


After Linus and Snoopy, Schroeder is probably Charlie Brown's closest friend; he once angrily berated Violet for giving Charlie Brown a used valentine well after Valentine's Day had come and gone, only to be undercut when Charlie Brown eagerly accepted it. He also is one of the few players who has any respect for Charlie Brown as a manager; however, he is as capable of ire at Charlie Brown's poor performance as anyone else, but these instances are few and far between.
History

Schroeder was introduced as a baby on May 30, 1951, but aged to the maturity level of the other characters over the next three years. On his first appearance on the strip Patty refers to him as a next door neighbor. His birthday was in 1954 revealed to be January 18. He initially had no notable characteristics, but soon, Schulz had the idea to incorporate his daughter Meredith's toy piano into the strip. He decided to give it to the newest character in the strip, and thus the character as he is known to millions of fans was born. The origin of his name can be found in Schulz' 1975 book, Peanuts Jubilee: "Schroeder was named after a young boy with whom I used to caddy at Highland Park golf course in St. Paul. I don't recall ever knowing his first name, but just 'Schroeder' seemed right for the character in the script, even before he became the great musician he now is."
A bust of Beethoven

From his first appearance at the piano on September 24, 1951, Schroeder has played classical pieces of virtuoso level, as depicted by Schulz's painstaking transcription of sheet music onto the panel. The first piece Schroeder played was Rachmaninoff's Prelude in G Minor. Schroeder is often found playing selections from a sonata by Beethoven, his favorite composer. As revealed in one strip wherein Lucy took his bust of Beethoven and smashed it, he has an entire closet full of Beethoven busts. Every year, Schroeder marks December 16, the birthday of his hero. Schulz once revealed that he had originally planned to depict Johannes Brahms as Schroeder's idol, but decided that Beethoven simply sounded "funnier." He was once in shock when he forgot Beethoven's birthday. When Charlie Brown's baseball team is required to have a sponsor to play games, Schroeder's sponsor is Beethoven. In the early strips Schroeder also played other composers. In one strip, Lucy implies that his idolization of Beethoven is excessive, asking him what he thinks of other classical composers such as Schubert, Brahms, Bach, and Chopin. Schroeder simply replies, "They were great composers too"... and continues to play Beethoven. Schroeder generally wears a shirt with thick black stripes. In the animated TV specials and movies, it is colored purple.

Schroeder is usually depicted sitting at his toy piano, able to pound out multi-octave selections of music, despite the fact that such a piano has a very small realistic range (for instance, and as a running joke, the black keys are merely painted on to the white keys). On one occasion, Charlie Brown tried to get him to play a real piano and Schroeder burst out crying, intimidated by its size.

Schroeder's other distinguishing mark as a character is his constant refusal of Lucy's love. Lucy is infatuated with Schroeder, and frequently leans against his piano while he is playing, professing her love for him. However, Beethoven was a lifelong bachelor, and Schroeder feels he must emulate every aspect of his idol's life, even if it is insinuated that he reciprocates Lucy's feelings. In a story arc where she and the rest of her family have moved out of town, Schroeder becomes frustrated with his music and mutters disbelievingly that he misses her, realizing that, despite his animosity towards her, Lucy has unwittingly become Schroeder's muse and he cannot play without her (he parodies Henry Higgins' by saying, "Don't tell me I've grown accustomed to THAT face!"). Sometimes, he gets so annoyed with Lucy that he outright yanks the piano out from underneath her to get her away from him. However, he does allow Charlie Brown to lounge against the piano, because of their solid friendship. The question of how the unwanted Lucy nevertheless keeps getting into Schroeder's house is never addressed; presumably Schroeder's unseen parents do not take his dislike for her very seriously.

Once, he appears as Lucy's psychiatric partner, and took her place when she was not available. When Charlie Brown poured out his troubles, Schroeder said simply, "Go home, and listen to one of Brahms' piano quartets...five cents, please." Later, Charlie Brown asked Lucy, "How carefully do you screen your assistants?"

 Schroeder's piano

The piano's capability is illustrated in 1965's A Charlie Brown Christmas. Lucy asks Schroeder to play "Jingle Bells". Schroeder plays it in the style of a conventional piano, then manages to generate the warm tones of a Hammond organ, but Lucy cannot recognize the tune until the now-irritated Schroeder plays it, with one finger, in the tones of a normal toy piano. It's the only time in the history of the television specials that his toy piano ever actually sounds like a toy piano, with 'plinking' sounds.

Schroeder is normally a very passive character, content to play his music, but he can be angered quite easily, especially if his music or his idol Beethoven are insulted. In one short Lucy points out to him the woefully inadequate single-octave range of a toy piano; an angry Schroeder yanks it out from under, causing her to conk her head on the floor. This became more of a running gag in the strip's later years. On another occasion, Lucy asked if pianists made a lot of money, and Schroeder flew into a rage: "Who cares about money?! This is art, you blockhead! This is great music I'm playing, and playing great music is an art! Do you hear me? An art! Art! Art! Art! Art! Art!" (the last five words punctuated by slamming his hands against his piano). In the Charlie Brown Christmas special, Lucy tells Schroeder that Beethoven "wasn't so great". When Schroeder defensively demands an explanation, Lucy replies that Beethoven has never been on a bubble gum card and that one cannot be considered great without appearing on one.

The musical notes Schroeder plays also seem to have substance; characters are able to touch them as they appear in the air. Snoopy, for example, once decorated a Christmas tree using a handful of them, and has on at least one occasion been seen dancing atop the musical staff containing the notes.

On two occasions, Lucy went so far as to destroy Schroeder's piano in an attempt to be rid of the "competition" for his affection. She once threw it into a sewer and the piano was washed out to sea. She later threw another one into the dreaded Kite-Eating Tree, which apparently ate pianos as well. Schroeder ordered his replacement pianos from the Ace Piano Company. When Charlie Brown asked if his piano was covered by insurance Schroeder replied, "How do you explain to the insurance company that your piano was eaten by a tree?". On another occasion Lucy, armed with a baseball bat, smashed to pieces a bust of Beethoven sitting on top of his piano; Undaunted, Schroeder calmly picked out a new bust from a closet well-stocked with duplicates.

The only time Schroeder accepted a gift from Lucy was when she gave him a sketch of Beethoven--she was then shocked to find he already had a gigantic wall-size portrait of Beethoven hanging in his room.


TV Specials

Name Original Air Date Network Current Network
A Boy Named Charlie Brown 1963 Unaired None
A Charlie Brown Christmas December 9, 1965 CBS ABC
Charlie Brown's All-Stars June 8, 1966 CBS None
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown October 27, 1966 CBS ABC
You're in Love, Charlie Brown June 12, 1967 CBS None
He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown February 14, 1968 CBS None
Charlie Brown and Charles Schulz May 24, 1969 CBS None
It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown September 27, 1969 CBS None
Play It Again, Charlie Brown March 28, 1971 CBS None
You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown October 29, 1972 CBS ABC
There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown March 11, 1973 CBS None
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving November 20, 1973 CBS ABC
It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown February 1, 1974 CBS None
It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown April 9, 1974 CBS ABC
Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown January 28, 1975 CBS  
You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown October 28, 1975 CBS None
Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown January 9, 1976 CBS None
It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown March 16, 1976 CBS None
It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown October 24, 1977 CBS None
What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown February 23, 1978 CBS None
Happy Birthday, Charlie Brown January 5, 1979 CBS None
You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown March 19, 1979 CBS None
She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown February 25, 1980 CBS None
Life Is a Circus, Charlie Brown October 24, 1980 CBS None
It's Magic, Charlie Brown April 28, 1981 CBS None
Someday You'll Find Her, Charlie Brown October 30, 1981 CBS None
A Charlie Brown Celebration May 24, 1982 (1981) CBS None
Is This Goodbye, Charlie Brown? February 21, 1983 CBS None
It's an Adventure, Charlie Brown May 16, 1983 CBS None
What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? May 30, 1983 CBS None
It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown April 16, 1984 CBS None
Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown March 20, 1985 CBS None
It's Your 20th Television Anniversary, Charlie Brown May 14, 1985 CBS None
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown November 6, 1985 CBS None
Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! January 1, 1986 CBS None
Snoopy!!! The Musical January 29, 1988 CBS None
It's the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown September 27, 1988 CBS None
You Don't Look 40, Charlie Brown February 2, 1990 CBS None
Why, Charlie Brown, Why? March 16, 1990 CBS None
Snoopy's Reunion May 1, 1991 CBS None
It's Spring Training, Charlie Brown 1992 CBS None
It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown November 27, 1992 CBS None
You're in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown January 18, 1994 NBC None
It Was My Best Birthday Ever, Charlie Brown Straight to video (1997) Unaired  
Good Grief, Charlie Brown: A Tribute to Charles Schulz February 11, 2000 CBS None
Here's to You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years May 10, 2000 CBS None
It's the Pied Piper, Charlie Brown Straight to video (2000) Unaired  
The Making of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" December 6, 2001 ABC Unknown
A Charlie Brown Valentine February, 14, 2002 ABC ABC
Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales December 8, 2002 ABC ABC
Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown August 29, 2003 ABC Unnoted
I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown December 9, 2003 ABC ABC
He's a Bully, Charlie Brown November 20, 2006 ABC ABC

 

 The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show

Episode Name Original Air Date
Snoopy's Cat Fight 9/17/1983
Snoopy: Team Manager 9/24/1983
Linus and Lucy 10/1/1983
Lucy VS the World 10/8/1983
Linus' Security Blanket 10/15/1983
Snoopy: Man's Best Friend 10/22/1983
Snoopy the Psychitrist 10/29/1983
You Can't Win Charlie Brown 11/5/1983
The Lost Ballpark 11/12/1983
Snoopy's Football Career 11/19/1983
Chaos in the Classroom 11/26/1983
It's that Team Spirit, Charlie Brown 12/3/1983
Lucy Loves Schroeder 12/10/1983
Snoopy and the Giant 9/14/1985
Snoopy's Brother Spike 9/21/1985
Snoopy's Robot 9/28/1985
Peppermint Patty's School Days 10/5/1985
Sally's Sweet Baboo 10/12/1985

 

 This is America, Charlie Brown mini-series

Episode Name Original Air Date
The Mayflower Voyagers 10/21/1988
The Birth of the Constitution" 10/28/1988
The Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk 11/4/1988
The NASA Space Station 11/11/1988
The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad 2/10/1989
The Great Inventors 3/10/1989
The Smithsonian and the Presidency 4/19/1989
The Music and Heroes of America 5/23/1989

 

 Other Specials

Name Original Air Date Network
Snoopy at the Ice Follies 10/24/1971 NBC
Snoopy's International Ice Follies 11/12/1972 NBC
Snoopy Directs the Ice Follies 11/13/1973 NBC
Snoopy's Musical on Ice 5/24/1978 CBS
The Big Stuffed Dog 2/8/1981 NBC

 

Feature films

Movie Release Date
A Boy Named Charlie Brown December 4, 1969
Snoopy, Come Home July 14, 1972
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown June 3, 1977
Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown June 13, 1980