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Classical Notes

Category Archive: Unexpected Classical

Pianos for planes, trains and automobiles

Posted at 11:00 AM on September 10, 2014 by Luke Taylor (1 Comments)
Filed under: Fun finds, Unexpected Classical


The western departures concourse of London King's Cross railway station (photo © User:Colin CC BY-SA)

In mid-August on the News Cut blog, MPR News' Bob Collins shared this video of a man playing a piano in a departure lounge at Prague's Václav Havel Airport:

The pianist in the video, Maan Hamadeh, was quoted by Lebanon's Daily Star, saying, "I would love to see pianos in all public place[s], especially those where the waiting factor is present."

Inside London's King's Cross/St Pancras railway station, there's a piano that gets a lot of attention. Here's a beautiful video by Richard Moore that captures a day in the life of that very public and very popular piano:

And finally, this piano seems just plopped along the side of the street in York, England. Despite what seems to be a chilly day when this video was shot, this boogie-woogie piano player is not slowed down at all — even though he appears to be wearing gloves!

What do you think of pianos in public places? Would you stop and listen? If you're a piano player, would you be inspired to stop and play? If so, what piece(s) would you perform?

(1 Comments)

Improving your life with Mozart (and rap)

Posted at 9:00 AM on August 28, 2014 by Brett Baldwin (2 Comments)
Filed under: Education, In the media, Unexpected Classical

Kansas city-based rapper (and one time Rhymesayers recording artist) Mac Lethal catapulted into the spotlight with his incredibly popular, video singing/rapping "Look at Me Now" while making pancakes. That viral hit earned Mac Lethal press from The Washington Post and an appearance on Ellen DeGeneres's show … and a massive following on YouTube, which he encourages to email him with questions and comments.

His latest video may put him in the spotlight one more time. Mac Lethal posted this video on August 25th, 2014, responding to a letter he says he received from a teacher.

Dear Mr. Mac Lethal,

My name is Mrs. Francine, I'm a 53-year-old high-school music teacher, and I love your YouTube videos. The problem is I can't play them for my students because they contain too many bad words. Would you consider making a fast rap video for my students, to inspire them to be great? With no bad words?

Sincerely,
Mrs. Francine

p.s. Do you like Mozart?

In response, Mac Lethal made this guide to life's best practices to the tune of Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 11, commonly known as the "Turkish March." See if you can keep up:

Mrs. Francine saw the video and wrote back that she and her students were "flattered beyond belief."

If you want to see what Classical MPR is doing to make classical music relevant to kids, please check out Music for Learning, our education site.


(2 Comments)

Video: Strauss, synchronized swimming ... but no pool

Posted at 1:15 PM on August 8, 2014 by Luke Taylor
Filed under: Fun finds, Unexpected Classical


Margaret Hutto via YouTube

Maybe it's because there's not a lot of water in Texas. But these kids from an elementary school in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area pull off a pretty entertaining synchronized-swimming routine during their school's talent show.

Classical MPR's Jodi Gustafson spotted this video online and shared it. The music is Johann Strauss's Blue Danube Waltz.

We're pretty sure the music and the video will make you smile. Even without water, these kids make a splash.

Edvard and a Red Card

Posted at 5:00 PM on July 10, 2014 by Luke Taylor
Filed under: Fun finds, Unexpected Classical

This week on Classical MPR, we've been celebrating the World Cup with Morning Glories picks that have connections to or are inspired by soccer. Now, we've found a video that is inspired by soccer and includes classical music.

First a bit of context: During the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, scrutiny has been placed on players who exaggerate the effects of physical contact — known as "diving" — in order to sway the referee's opinion.

Following the Netherlands' 2 - 1 defeat of Mexico in the round of 16, for example, Dutch forward Arjen Robben admitted diving and apologized for having done it in the game (although he said it was not the fall that led to the decisive penalty in that match).

With this topic in mind, the staff at Fourgrounds Media, Inc., a video production company located in St. Catharines, Ont., put together this amusing video that imagines what life would be like if we reacted to contact in our everyday interactions the same way some soccer players choose to react on the pitch. And for the music in the video, the producers chose "In the Hall of the Mountain King" from Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt.

It's a fun video; note that if you can read lips, there's one lip-reading language advisory. Otherwise, enjoy the music and the laughs. (h/t Toni Karlsson)


What do you think of the use of Grieg in this video? Do you like it, or is there a different piece of music you would have chosen?

Vivaldi for any occasion (outdoors enthusiast edition)

Posted at 9:56 AM on May 9, 2014 by Julia Schrenkler
Filed under: Unexpected Classical



King Louis XV took a liking to 'Spring' and ordered it to be performed at the most unexpected moments.


- Aaron Green in Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons: Notes, Historical Information, and Sonnets

Like that monarch hailing from the House of Bourbon, I like 'Spring' and enjoy hearing it in unexpected moments. But it took me by a bit more than surprise in this (not for the squeamish) video outlining how to clean the common carp:



Considering the Four Seasons sound and sonnets, perhaps this is not an incongruous appearance. To many the cheerful beginning evokes memories of satire on comedy television like Saturday Night Live or school outings to hear the "top" classics, but I hear only freshness and the wild. This video makes me question if we assign too much to classical music and hold it to our specific expectations when it is a passionate, terribly beautiful tangle of human experiences.

'Spring' appears in movies, at public events, and in weddings so why shouldn't it show up in a how-to video about cleaning fish? Where have you heard 'Spring' to great effect?