Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
A couple of weeks ago we did a segment on orchestral Rolling Stones music. A similar theme this week.
The Beatles come to life in Revolution, a symphonic tribute to the Fab Four accompanied by a collection of rare photos, videos and animations displayed on the screen above the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. More than 25 of The Beatles’ top hit will be performed live by the MSO Friday, June 3 – Sunday, June 5 at the Bradley Symphony Center, 212 W. Wisconsin Avenue.
Ticket availability is limited. Can’t make it or simply want a preview? Featured this week: What some of the songs might sound like. Time to rock symphonically!
In 1981 Louis Clark conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a series of medleys. Clark took lengthy symphonies, movements, marches and concertos and whittled them down to mere seconds. The first “Hooked on Classics” single and album were international smashes. In 1982 a single featuring famous themes by a dozen classical composers, “Hooked on Classics” made it to #10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. The “Hooked on Classics” peaked at number 4 on the U.S. Billboard albums chart, and remaining on the chart for 68 weeks. It was certified platinum.
Could Clark do the Fab Four?
From a Beatles Press Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, 9/12/1964:
Q: “Arthur Fiedler of the Boston Pops Orchestra says he finds your music very relaxing. How do you find his music?”
JOHN: “Depends what tunes he plays, you know.”
Q: “Have you ever heard of him?”
PAUL: “He’s very relaxing.”
JOHN: “Boston Pops, I Want To Hold Your…”
Q: “Have you heard his version of Beatle music?”
Q: “Do you like?”
PAUL: (jokingly) “Good tunes.”
PAUL: (giggles) “No, it’s nice, you know.”
Speaking of Fiedler, TV talk show host Larry King recalled having Paul McCartney visit his home and telling the former Beatle how Fiedler had permanently changed King’s mind about his band. The conductor astonished King when during The Beatles’ heyday, he paid the Fab Four a huge compliment.
“I told [McCartney] a story, that the famous conductor of the Pops, Arthur Fiedler…this was when I appreciated The Beatles for the first time. I used to make fun of The Beatles in the ’60s, you know [King sang mockingly], ‘I wanna hold your hand…’
“So I had Arthur Fiedler on once and as an aside I said to him jokingly, ‘What do you think of this current craze, The Beatles?’”
Fiedler’s response caught King off guard.
“He said, ‘The Beatles are our Beethoven.’ I said, ‘What??’ He said, ‘The music that they write will be here when we’re both gone. They broke rules. I compare them to Bach.’
“McCartney’s face just lit up when I was telling him this,” said King “Fiedler called that musical brilliance, and I, from then on, appreciated them.”
NEXT…The Hollyridge Strings, an orchestra of studio musicians that recorded easy-listening covers for Capitol Records in the 1960s and 1970s. They became quite popular after releasing an album totally devoted to the Beatles that led to more Beatle renditions and tributes to other artists.
The following ensemble was a group of studio musicians who recorded a series of easy listening instrumental albums for Capitol Records at the peak of the British Invasion era. The band of musicians covered tunes from just about anybody who was big.
Admit. You thought this was going to be a bunch of boring movements and concertos.
Oh, and admit this, too. They just don’t write them like “When I’m 64” anymore.
NOW, from German Lutheran Minister and musicologist Otto Deutsch who wrote in 2019:
In 1963, Paul and John were named by the classical music critic of The Times, William Mann, as “the year’s outstanding composers.” The Sunday Times of December 29, 1963 even named them “the greatest composers since Beethoven.”
Lennon’s song “Because” (on Abbey Road), which is one of the most beautiful of The Beatles’ songs and the favorite of Paul and George, was composed expressly in reference to the first movement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” This first movement (“Adagio”), with its melancholic atmosphere and its broken C#-minor chords, probably formed the basis. However, besides the arpeggios, no melodic or harmonic relationship can be discerned. Sometimes, when The Beatles sat relaxed together in the evening, they listened to Beethoven or another “interesting piece of music.” Significantly, their own records were not included here: They never play their own records.
“When it’s finished, it doesn’t matter anymore,” Deutsch quoted Lennon.
The Beatles Symphony Orchestra…
More from Otto Deutsch:
George Martin (Beatles’ producer/arranger), a generation older than The Beatles, had the training in classical music which they lacked.
Martin tried to teach them professional techniques, but at the same time he appreciated their being unrestricted. “I have often been asked if I could have written any of The Beatles’ tunes, and the answer is definitely no: for one basic reason. I didn’t have their simple approach to music.”
Sometimes George Martin made a bit of fun about their lack of musical knowledge, writing, “They ask for such things as violins to play an F below middle C, which, of course, violins can’t do. At the start I was like a master with his pupils, and they did what I said. And by the end, of course, I was to be the servant while they were the masters.”
He played such a key role, that he was repeatedly named by music critics as the “fifth Beatle.” For The Beatles’ record production, Martin was their advisor, arranger, orchestrator and occasional pianist.
From the soundtrack album, a Martin arrangement…
THAT instrumental was a particular favorite of my father’s.
“I think the Beatles are my generation’s classical music, and as time has shown, they still are our musical gold standard. John, Paul, George, and Ringo changed the entire planet like no one ever will again! They are and always will be the greatest band of all time.”
—Steve Luthaker, Toto
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
We close the way we began, with Louis Clark. Expect to hear this from the MSO.