Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sports and Classical Music?

The TV is now tuned to baseball in our house. The maestro always says that if he had not become a conductor, he would have wanted to be a sports announcer. This often surprises people who think that people in the arts should not be interested in sports. So I thought that I would write something about music and sports.
Can sports and classical mix?

Even I am surprised occasionally when I hear that a major sports figure loves classical music. Somehow, our society seems to separate physical prowess from aesthetic interests, but often this is not the case. Your baseball player or soccer star can enjoy classical music… if you can find the right music to capture their imagination, you and your child may be surprised.

Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna,” the introduction to his great work for chorus and orchestra, Carmina Burana, has often been heard a sporting events and is perhaps the most popular of all works among teenagers. The Atlanta Symphony with Robert Shaw conducting has a lively recording and I recommend Track One for 99-cents. Chinese athletes say that the most common "music prescriptions" for relaxation before an event include Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 and Debussy's Nocturnes. Frankly, I would only recommend the excellent recording of the Beethoven conducted by Karl Bohm (see link above). But if you want to feel heroic, try Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.

People are beginning to notice that when classical music is played in venues other than the concert hall, it has widespread audience appeal. An NBA game began with this introduction. And, an interesting article by a Greek doctor notes the positive effects of classical music on athletes, saying the music might work better than steroids.

When Maestro Classics’ Casey at the Bat CD was released a friend sent it to George Steinbrenner, the legendary Yankee owner. George was a great opera fan and I was thrilled when he wrote me a letter saying that he loved our Casey at the Bat. For any boy (or girl) who loves baseball and needs to memorize a poem for school, there is nothing as good as “Casey at the Bat,” and when you hear it with music, it is unforgettable.

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