The Major-General's Song is a patter song from Gilbert and Sullivan's 1879 comic opera The Pirates of Penzance. It is perhaps the most famous song in Gilbert and Sullivan's operas. It is sung by Major-General Stanley at his first entrance, towards the end of Act I. The song satirises the idea of the "modern" educated British Army officer of the later 19th century.
The song is replete with historical and cultural references, satirically demonstrating the Major-General's impressive and well-rounded education that seems to come at the complete expense of any useful military knowledge. Some performing companies write their own lyrics satirizing current events. The rhyming of "major-general" is itself a send-up of the contemporary stailish vales of the English language, as spak'n at Kinsington ("stylish vowels of the English language, as spoken at Kensington"). The stage directions in the libretto state that at the end of each verse the Major-General is "bothered for a rhyme." Interpolated business occurs here, and in each case he finds a rhyme and finishes the verse with a flourish.
In some versions of the libretto, "Mauser rifle" in line 26 is "Chassepot rifle" - the former is more common in performance. The Mauser rifle was based on the earlier Chassepot and had an improved rotating bolt system for breechloaders. First invented in 1867, the Mauser rifle was adapted by the German army in 1871, after the German victory in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. Subsequently, the Mauser became the more widely used rifle, and Martyn Green, in his 1961 Treasury of Gilbert and Sullivan (p. 151) writes that the lyric was changed because the Mauser was more familiar to audiences.
Other renditions have included the Babylon 5 episode "Atonement" sung by Marcus Cole; the Married With Children episode "Peggy and the Pirates" (Season 7, Episode 18); the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Disaster; the episode of Frasier titled Fathers and Sons (Martin interrupts the song trying to join in, singing, "With many awful facts about the scary hippopotamus!"); the Mad About You episode "Moody Blues" (Season 6, Episode 5); the "Deep Space Homer" episode of The Simpsons; two VeggieTales episodes: The Wonderful World of Auto-Tainment! and A Snoodle's Tale, which aired on qubo; and a 1989 episode of Neighbours. Sometimes the song is used in an audition situation. For example, in the Two and a Half Men episode "And the Plot Moistens" (Season 3, Episode 21), Alan sings the first verse of the song to persuade Jake to join the school musical. Similarly, in season 2 of Slings & Arrows, Richard Smith-Jones uses the song to audition for the festival's musical. In the pilot episode of 90210 Annie Wilson sings the beginning of the song in a flash back of her old school performance.
Parodies or pastiches of the song have been sung in a number of television programs. For example, the computer-animated series ReBoot ended its third season with a recap of the entire season, set to the song's tune. The Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip episode "The Cold Open" (2006), the cast of Studio 60 opens with a parody: "We'll be the very model of a modern network TV show...." In the Doctor Who Big Finish Productions audio, Doctor Who and the Pirates, the Doctor sings, "I am the very model of a Gallifreyan buccaneer" (and other songs, from Pirates, Pinafore and Ruddigore, are parodied). When he hosted Saturday Night Live, David Hyde Pierce's monologue was a parody of the song. He also sang the first verse of the song along with Kelsey Grammar and guest star David Ogden Stiers in an episode of "Frasier". In The Wild Thornberrys episode "Sir Nigel," Nigel Thornberry sings a song about the family to the tune of the song. In an episode of Pinky and The Brain, The Brain sings a typically megalomaniacal parody of the song. In Scrubs episode "My Musical" (Season 6, Episode 6), the song is parodied as Dr. Cox sings about why he hates J.D. Perhaps most famously, in the Animaniacs short "H.M.S. Yakko," Yakko sings "I am the Very Model of a Cartoon Individual".
Secretary-General Appoints Major General Michael Finn of Ireland to Head United Nations Truce Supervision Organization
Jun 18, 2013; NEW YORK -- The following information was released by the United Nations: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today...