Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Also Sprach Zarathustra (Long Version)

A couple of days ago my wife asked me if I'd like to go to a classic concert, featuring Richard Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra". As we missed it when we arrived late to the Elvis Presley In Concert show in London in February, here was our chance to hear it live, she reasoned.

I thought it was a good idea, and soon found myself sitting in a concert hall listening to that famous introduction all Elvis fans know so well. As a matter of fact, me and my wife looked at each other and giggled, as all we could think of was ... yeah, that's right, Elvis! And though it was interesting listening to the rest of the composition I couldn't help feeling just a little bit disappointed when the King didn't came on stage.

But that Elvis Presley used the introduction fanfare "Sunrise" was mentioned in the concert program. Come to think of it, in a way it's pretty amazing that so many people who are not into classical music knows it thanks to Elvis. I have to agree with Stein Erik Skar that it was a stroke of genius by Elvis to use "Also Sprach Zarathustra" before he himself entered the stage. This is what he writes in his book "Elvis The Concert Years 1969-1977":

"This powerful opus created an almost supernatural atmosphere as it filled the entirety of the completely darkened showroom. Then Elvis came on stage, carried on by a drum roll, to greet an ecstatic audience in a frenzy of exultation at this intoxicating music which seemed as though it had been composed with a thought to the infinity of the universe - and, unbelievably enough, as though it had been composed just for the artist Elvis Presley's entrance to the concert stage."

I don't know what Richard Strauss would've thought had he known that his "Sunrise" theme would find fame both in Stanley Kubrick's movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" and as the opening sequence of hundred of Elvis Presley concerts. My guess is he would've been pleased as it has helped his work become known to the general public. And maybe a bit honored, as well.

1 comment:

MĂ„rtenbrother said...

It could be fun to know that Elvis wasn't the only live act who used it during the 70's. Deep Purple also did - in 1968 as the beginning to their version of "River Deep Mountain High" and later again in 1974-1975 introducing "Space Truckin'".