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Cuckoo clock in culture

The cuckoo clock, more than any other kind of timepiece, has often featured in literature, music, cinema, television, etc., in the Western culture, as a metaphor or allegory of innocence, childhood, old age, past, fun, mental disorder, etc. It has apparently been viewed more as a symbol or a toy -a folksy musical apparatus with animated figures- fascinating and a bit mysterious rather than as a serious timekeeper.

Although the cuckoo clock functions as a symbol of Switzerland and Swissness, in fact it only has a slim connection with that country in terms of production. Its real home is the Black Forest of Germany.

Inside Sierra Diablo mountains (Texas), is being built the monumental 10,000 Year Clock based upon an idea of Daniel Hillis who in 1995 expressed as follows: "I want to build a clock that ticks once a year. The century hand advances once every 100 years, and the cuckoo comes out on the millennium. I want the cuckoo to come out every millennium for the next 10,000 years." Funded by Jeff Bezos, it is designed to run for ten millennia with minimal maintenance and interruption.

The Discovey Channel TV series Big!, consisted of a team of craftspeople, in welding and metal construction, manufacturing the world's biggest items scaled up to proportions for the sake of setting world records, the devices had to function to qualify. One of the enlarged objects was a cuckoo clock in the episode number 9, although the Guinness World Record was not finally achieved.

Since its popularization, from the mid-1850s on, it has been a common character in children's literature, comics and cartoons, for educational, comical and/or entertainment purposes. All this is due to children are usually enchanted by the “magic” of a happy bird which lives in a house-shaped clock and pops out to announce the hours. In literature for children examples include:

  • "The Cuckoo Clock", by Mrs. Molesworth and first published in Edinburgh (Scotland, U. K.) in 1877, which is the best-known and one of her most celebrated novels for children.
  • "The Story of a Cuckoo Clock" (1887), by Robina F. Hardy.
  • "The Cuckoo in the Clock", a story by Enid Blyton, first published in the book "Round the Clock Stories" in 1945.
  • "The Mouse and the Cuckoo in the Clock" (1947), by William Glynne-Jonnes and illustrated by Will Nickless.
  • "Curly Cobbler and the Cuckoo Clock" (1950), written and illustrated by Margaret Tempest.
  • "The Happy Hollisters", a book series by Andrew E. Svenson whose number twenty-four is "The Happy Hollisters and the Cuckoo Clock Mystery" (1956).
  • "Barnaby's Cuckoo Clock" (Tales of Hopping Wood) (published in 1958), text and illustrations by Rene Cloke.
  • "The Late Cuckoo" (1962), text and art by Louis Slobodkin.
  • "Hildy and the Cuckoo Clock" (1966), by Ruth Christoffer Carlsen, illustrations by Wallace Tripp.
  • "Peter Nick-Nock and the Cuckoo Clock" (1971), authored by Dorothy Edwards, illustrations by Alexy Pendle.
  • "Cuckoo Clock Island" (1974), author; Frances Eagar, art by Ann Strugnell.
  • "The Cuckoo Clock Castle of Shir" (1980), authored and illustrated by Chabad Chasidic artist Michoel Muchnik.
  • "The Cuckoo Clock" (1986), by Mary Stolz and Pamela Johnson (illustrator).
  • "Cuckoo Clock" (1986), by the writer Kavery Bhatt, art by Subir Roy.
  • "Cuckoo - Clock Cuckoo" (1988), by the German illustrator and writer Annegert Fuchshuber.
  • "Sam Pig and the Cuckoo Clock" (published in 1988), written by Alison Uttley and illustrated by Graham Percy.
  • "The Cuckoo Clock of Doom" (1995), part of the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine
  • "The Cuckoo Clock" (1920), by Leopold Godowsky, the composition number twenty-six from his thirty pieces suite for piano called “Triakontameron".
  • "The Cuckoo Clock" (1932), a song for piano and vocal by Thomas Griselle and Victor Young. It was recorded in 1934, performed by the soprano Rosa Ponselle and conducted by Andre Kostelanetz.
  • "Cuckoo clock", the best-known composition of Lloyd del Castillo recorded in 1939 by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Promenade Orchestra.
  • "The Cuckoo in the Clock" (published in 1957), a piano solo piece by William Scher.
  • "The Old Cuckoo Clock", by Nina Batschinskaja, for piano solo.
  • "Cuckoo Clock Piano Duet", by Stuart Young.
  • "The Cuckoo Clock", by John Thompson. Published in "The First Grade Book" (1936).
  • "The Cuckoo Clock" (2003), composed by Lauren Bernofsky for elementary string orchestra.
  • "The Cuckoo Clock Duet" (2005), by Andy Beck, for 2-part voices and piano.
  • "Cuckoo Clock" (2006), by Deborah Ellis Suarez, piano solo.


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