31 August 2009

Eine Kleine Rockmusik

One of the things I'm forced into doing in the fall and winter is going to the symphony. I guess there are worse things to do, but the concerts are on Sunday afternoons, which here in the land of the free is when most of the NFL games are on. I like to watch the games live. Well. Part of the deal I got when I signed up. Although our symphony, in fairness, did do a pops concert with the music of Led Zeppelin this spring-and it fairly rocked.

I got to thinking about how many classical pieces have been played by modern musical groups, and there are a fair amount. Certainly more than a few bands have or had a heavy classical influence-the Moody Blues, ELO, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer come to mind right away.

Probably some musical purists have hearing the old classics played on (horrors) an electric guitar or a synthesizer. There is, after all, a reason those old 17th and 18th century composers didn't write music for synthesizers-they didn't have them. Otherwise, they'd have jumped on the things. They were the rockers of their time and would have embraced the newest innovations in music.

Here are a few bits I've run across. You've heard most of them, I'd guess-but I'm going to put them up anyway. There are plenty of other blogs should you desire deep, meaningful content.

I remember that we had this tune on a 45. Apollo 100's version of Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. A bit dated (it sounds like The Partridge Family might have recorded it). I have read that Bach considered the baroque music of his time an imperfect form of the art and he experimented with many different styles he thought better. In fact, I believe he was quoted as saying-

-Wait for it...

"If it ain't baroque, don't fix it!"

All right. I'll be here all week. Tip your waiter. Try the veal.

Johann Pachelbel was what we'd call a 'one-hit wonder' today. It was, however, a good one-the pastoral Canon in D. Korean guitar player Lim Jeong-hyun has his popular version which is a nice piece of work. I should play so well. I wish I'd have been born with musical talent instead of good looks.

One of the more well-known classical works is Beethoven's Fifth Symphony with its 'dit-dit-dit-DAAAH' opening. You know where this is headed, don't you? Sure you do. Get your 70s funk on for Walter Murphy (SFMurphy's less talented brother, I believe) and his Big Apple Band.

Frederic Chopin composed the Heroic Polonaise, Op. 53, in 1842. I can't hear the work without thinking of Monty Python's biographic epic 'Oliver Cromwell' (Lord Protector of England/Puritan/Born in 1599 and died in 1658/September/Was at first /(only)/ MP for Huntingdon/ (but then) /He led the Ironside cavalry/At Marston Moor/In 1644/ And won)...You know the rest.

A personal classical favorite of mine is Modest Mussorgskiy's 'Pictures at an Exhibition' (Картинки с выставки), which is a suite of short works with a common theme of a walk through an art exhibition. Emerson, Lake, and Palmer covered the suite in 1970, and did a great job in my opinion. I've never actually met anyone that claimed to like ELP- odd that they sold a fair amount of records. Someone bought those albums-so fess up.

The band Yes opened many of their shows with an excerpt from Igor Stravinskiy's Firebird Suite, which was named by his peers when they saw the muscle car he bought with the proceeds
from his performances.

"Firebird, sweet!"

Amazing the stuff you can learn by reading this blog.

Finally, Chaikovskiy's March of the Wooden Soldiers from The Nutcracker received a reboot for honky-tonk piano, titled Nutrocker, back in 1962 by the band B. Bumble and the Stingers. Several other groups have done the song, but we'll close with a truncated version by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

I know there are a lot more classical works out there done inna rock style, but this is enough for one post, I reckon. Never turn up your nose at classical music-it might just show up on the charts sometime!

yankeedog out.


  1. Well, my current fave band is a dutch outfit called Epica, they call themselves symphonic rock, basically your std guitar/drum based metal with the addition of an orchestra, choir, and oh did I mention, one stunning redhead classical singer with an amazing voice, Simone Simons.
    They do a wicked version of Star Wars' Imperial March, along with various covers of other soundtracks etc as well as their own stuff.

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