How do you picture a typical classical music concert-goer? I may be playing off stereotypes here, but I’m guessing you’re at least thinking of a couple of these:
- Prim and proper (i.e. stuffy)
- Financially well-off
Meet my friend and coworker, Jonathan.
He’s not retired. He’s not prim and proper and he’s most definitely not old-fashioned. As for his financials, I can’t really say, but if he’s like the rest of us there’s always room for improvement.
Jonathan and I share a love of travel and have each spent some time living in other countries. His is a pretty cool story.
Several years ago, he spent some time living and working in Germany. While many people go overseas to enter the business world, study or teach English, he took a slightly different route. What did he do? Well – learning German along the way – he managed a heavy metal band!
This is the German metal band, Tanzwut, (pron TAHNZ-voot) which has been together since the late 1990s. I read online that they maintain a medieval theme apparent throughout their performances, costumes and on stage choreography. I pulled this picture off google images and personally, I think they also have a little bit of an 80s look – especially the red-haired guy on the right and the guy on the left when he’s in full make up, but I’ll let you decide. Honestly, they look like nice guys, not that scary at all! Jonathan managed them – set up concert dates, picked out venues and helped manage their PR, etc. This is a band that includes a bagpipe on stage! Plus, I’ve also heard they play renaissance festivals…though probably in slightly different costumes.
When I asked Jonathan about his taste for metal music, he responded by saying,
Metal calls out to me. It is aggressive and often very technical. Metal is the most sophisticated genre of music. It is complex to play and the song topics (lyrical content) are often about very deep subjects, (ie. war, death, politics, religion, love, no love, isolation, current events, history, classic literature). (reference – “For Whom The Bell Tolls” by Metallica, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Iron Maiden, “Angel of Death” by Slayer, “Peace Sells But Who’s Buying” by Megadeth.
He goes on to say that all fans of heavy metal music (a.k.a. metal heads) should, if nothing else, share his love of Beethoven. About Beethoven, he told me that:
“His music was heavy. He was the Heavy Metal of the 1800’s. Take the 5th symphony and play it on an electric guitar using power cords, and you got your very first Heavy Metal song ever written. Beethoven was heavy and brilliant. His music strikes me as the best. (my opinion). Lots of hooks, fast progressions, and technical.”
He has a point. Listen to this YouTube video and see how very easily Beethoven’s 5th was converted to a metal version. It’s really not that hard on the ears, either! Take a look as well at a few of the comments beneath that YouTube video and you’ll see that Jonathan just may be onto something!
M B: I ABSOLUTELY think Beethoven would be a metalhead if he lived on this century
Superfragllama: That’s why he’s a Legend
Dissentrix: The only thing more awesome than that would be Beethoven, with metal band and orchestra, in front of me, playing this piece
There are plenty more just like those!
While Jonathan wasn’t able to make it to last year’s opening night performance of Beethoven’s 9thSymphony, I’m currently trying to talk him into gathering up a group of his friends to go to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra performance of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony this November. Can you just imagine such a completely different demographic at a concert? Wouldn’t you just love to see the more traditional symphony-goers freak out at seeing them? OK, so maybe they wouldn’t freak out per se, but it would be pretty fun to see everyone’s reaction to a bunch of metal heads’ walking into a theatre to enjoy the same kind of music traditionally thought to be the purview of the older, more “refined” generation!
I often find it interesting to hear about those who claim that classical music is a dying genre. Even NPR host, Fred Child, jokes in a commercial about how classical music seems to have been relegated to a museum status of “being seen, not touched”. Like Mr. Child, I totally disagree with that notion. Music knows no bounds. Just look at Beethoven: he’s one of the most beloved classical music composers in history yet he somehow has the ability to bring together the most unlikely combination of people.
Prince Karl Lichnowsky was once said this:
There are many princes and noblemen. There is only one Beethoven.
According to Superfragllama above and to the many other metal heads who also commented on that youtube video, what Prince Lichnowsky said already seems to be common knowledge.
Side note: You should know that I learned about the above Prince Lichnowsky quote thanks to a YouTube comment left by a Beethoven-loving metal head!!