© 2023 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Classical 101

Musical Mashups: Part 2

2 Cellos is planning a stadium tour and a performance with orchestra

Earlier this year, I shared a "musical mashup" by Grant Woolard, consisting of 57 classical melodies from 33 different composers. It was quite fun trying to pick out all of the favorite melodies he had woven together.


People have been twisting and reshaping classical music for centuries. Bach re-arranged many things written by Vivaldi, composers have always taken popular melodies and turned them into masterpieces.  Dvorak took a folk tune, (Na tom naem dvore), and the Czech national anthem, (which was based on another melody), and created his overture Ma Vlast (My Home).

In the early 1980's, a recording called Hooked on Classics was released, with the title track receiving quite a bit of airplay in this country and reaching #2 on the singles chart in the UK. Amazing what you can do with a beat track. A little schmaltzy, yes, but hearing your kid hum Beethoven makes it worthwhile.


Speaking of beat tracks, does anyone remember the brief resurrection of that idea, in which Richard Souther "reimagined" music by German Benedictine abbess, writer, and composer Hildegard von Bingen? I must admit, I thought it was an intriguing idea.


Kronos Quartet created a monster with their 1979 arrangement of Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix. It began life as an encore to their version of Rite of Spring and soon became an audience favorite. I have seen references to performances as recent as 2012, but have a hard time imagining the Kronos ever being able to stop playing it. Here's a performance in Tokyo from 1997.


The Greene String Quartet would soon give the quartet treatment to Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N' Roses. More recently, The Piano Guys and 2 Cellos have been blurring the musical lines. The Piano Guys wondered what would happen if the 1770's and the 1970's collided. Wonder no more.


2 Cellos, which performed in Columbus recently, have taken the mashup to a whole new level. Since they were first invited to tour with Elton John, they have been playing to sold out house around the world and are now planning a stadium tour. Next month, they play the Fuji Rock Festival, which is Japan's largest outdoor music event in Japan. There are five separate venues on site, with the main stage offering a capacity of 50,000. Whether they're jamming with guitarist/composer Steve Vai, or spinning Beethoven into Led Zeppelin, 2 Cellos draws a crowd.


In the not-to-distant future, I plan to bring you some excerpts from an interview I did with them when they came through Columbus. In the meantime, here's one more from 2 Cellos.