Poor Charlie Brown. He can't fly a kite, and he always loses in baseball. Having his faults projected onto a screen by Lucy doesn't help him much either. Against the sage advice and taunting of the girls in his class, he volunteers for the class spelling bee...and wins! Now the pressure is on as he is off to New York City for the televised national spelling bee.
After Linus van Pelt and Snoopy, Schroeder is probably Charlie Brown's closest friend; he once angrily denounced 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), and he is one of the few baseball players who has any respect for Charlie Brown as a manager (although he is as capable of ire at Charlie Brown's poor performance as anyone else, but these instances are few and far between).
Schroeder was introduced as a baby on May 30, 1951. Later, however, he seems to have been aged to nearly the same age as the other characters. 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."
On September 24, 1951, Charlie Brown attempted to show the infant how to play a toy piano and was quickly embarrassed when Schroeder completely outclassed him. Schroeder is frequently interrupted in his piano-playing by a mischievous Snoopy or by a romantic Lucy (whose advances he rebuffs quite forcefully). His skills on the toy piano, along with his fandom of Beethoven (whose bust Schroeder frequently keeps atop his piano) became perhaps the major facet of his character. Several strips revolve around Schroeder celebrating Beethoven's birthday.
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. Schroeder is often found playing selections from a sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven, his favorite composer. As revealed in one strip wherein Lucy took his bust of Beethoven and smashed it, he has an entire closetful of Beethoven busts. Every year, Schroeder marks December 16, the birthday of his idol. (Schulz once revealed that he had originally planned to depict Johannes Brahms as Schroeder's favorite, 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, Shroeder's sponsor is "Beethoven". In the early strips Schroeder also played other composers. 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. In the strip from December 16, 1984, Schroeder kisses Lucy on the cheek but when Lucy turns around she sees Snoopy. Believing Snoopy was the one who kissed her, she runs away screaming, while Schroeder calls for her to come back; showing he has some feelings for Lucy.
Schroeder is a member of Charlie Brown's baseball team, consistently in the position of catcher (notably as far from outfielder, Lucy, as possible). In this capacity he has often been depicted as providing backhanded compliments on Charlie Brown's pitching. Also he will run through a list of complicated signals, only to end with something to the effect of, "Just throw it down the middle. He'll hit it out no matter what you throw, anyway."
Scroeder is one of Charlie Brown's closest friends. They would have conferences on the pitcher's mound, in between pitches, mostly about Beethoven. He would also encourage Charlie during a baseball game often, whereas the rest of the team would say, "Don't let us down by showing up!" Charlie Brown is one of the few people Schroeder will allow to lounge against his piano, as he and Charlie Brown are good friends, and knows that Charlie Brown respects his love of Beethoven. In fact, when they were younger, Charlie Brown would read Schroeder the story about Beethoven's life. Charlie Brown, in fact was the one that introduced Schroeder to the piano.
See main article: Lucy and Schroeder's relationship.
Schroeder does not apperciate Lucy's love for him. He says, he can not like Lucy, because 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. However, Schroeder would prefer Lucy over Frieda, or any other girl, and has shown feelings for her occasionally.
Frieda, like Lucy, likes to lie on Schroeder's piano, and Schroeder doesn't like when she does it either.
Snoopy will often watch as Schroeder plays his piano, and many times, Snoopy will play with the notes. In the later years when the notes actually fell off the piano, Snoopy played with those too.
See main article: 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 impassive character, content to play his music, but can be angered quite easily 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 her and sends her flying. 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).
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 three occasions, Lucy has destroyed 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 it into a Kite-Eating Tree, which apparently ate pianos as well. Schroeder ordered his replacement pianos from the Ace Piano Company. Along with his new piano, Schroeder received an autographed photo of Joe Garagiola. Another time Lucy destroyed both his piano and his bust of Beethoven; Schoeder calmly picked out a new piano and bust from a closet well-stocked with duplicate pianos and busts.
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