Paul Hindemith Conducting Paul Hindemith

Paul Hindemith was one of the most important composers of the beginning 20th century. Watch this video where he is conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing one of his own compositions, the Concert Music for Strings and Brass, Op. 50.

The Sun Ra Arkestra Performing Shadow World in a Concert in West Berlin

This video presents one of the most important free jazz groups ever: the Sun Ra Arkestra. They are playin a concert in West Berlin and performing the song Shadow World. It is not clear when this concert was recorded but the black and white pictures suggest it was in the late 1960s when german television still recorded and transmitted in black and white.
Sun Ra was always regarded as an excentric musician and many people have no access to this kind of music, they even say it is no music at all or that all musicians are fake, that they can’t play their instruments. However, this is not true. All musicians in the Sun Ra Arkestra were excellent on their instrument but just had no wish to play in the well known mainstream, repeating standard tunes and performing what everybody could accept. It is a fact that such great jazz musicians as John Coltrane took a couple of saxophone playing lessons from the sax player who appears in this video, John Gilmore might be his name, leave a comment if you know better.
The band was really avantgarde, watch that at the end they even come up with some rap – in the late sixties !

The Kronos Quartet Performing the Jimi Hendrix Tune Foxy Lady

This video features the Kronos Quartet performing a classic Jimi Hendrix song called Foxy Lady. The Kronos Quartet is a musical ensemble of four young musicians who play string instruments. They all have studied a classical concert music instrumentalist career but have joined in this quartet with the goal to perform not only the repertoir of typical concert music string quartets. Instead, they are also performing compositions and arrangements from other musical environments besides the mandatory classical set of compositions.
In this little clip they have chosen a piece by rock star and electric guitar playing pioneer Jimi Hendrix called Foxy Lady. This is not the only piece of Jimi Hendrix interpreted by the Kronos Quartet, they also perform his tune Purple Haze (and maybe some more, so far I’ve found the two mentioned ones on youtube).
Jimi Hendrix was the most important rock guitar player of his time and has contributed strongly to the evolution of the possibilities of the electric guitar sound. He is well known for his appearance on the Woodstock festival where he performed the Star Spangled Banner, the north american national anthem, in his very own style, being a part of the love and peace movement and producing sounds with his guitar that imitated the falling american bombs over Vietnam.

Lou Reed Singing Walk on the Wild Side and Interviewed by Australien Journalists

Watch this video with underground rock star Lou Reed performing his hit Walk on the Wild Side and being interviewed by the australian press. I think everybodey knows the tune since it has been aired by radio stations from all over the world for several decades now. It has a kind of minimalistic melody while in this version the guitar plays a little bit more than just the usual simple chord progression.
The interview is hilarious. Lou Reed limits himself to very short answers like ‘yes’, ‘no’, and ‘I don’t know’ and responding even in a contradictory way. He knows who he is and what he represents …

Holly came from miami f.l.a.
Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A.

Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her leg and then he was a she
She says, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side

Candy came from out on the island
In the backroom she was everybodys darling

But she never lost her head
Even when she was given head
She says, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
Said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
And the coloured girls go

Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo

Little Joe never once gave it away
Everybody had to pay and pay

A hustle here and a hustle there
New York city is the place where they said
Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
I said hey Joe, take a walk on the wild side

Sugar plum fairy came and hit the streets
Lookin for soul food and a place to eat

Went to the Apollo
You should have seen him go go go
They said, hey sugar, take a walk on the wild side
I said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
All right, huh

Jackie is just speeding away
Thought she was James Dean for a day

Then I guess she had to crash
Valium would have helped that dash
She said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
I said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side
And the coloured girls say

Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo

Well, Lou Reed obvoiusly does some variations on the lyrics when performing live on stage, but his eventual alterations don’t really change the meaning of the song.

The Nightingale Written by Alban Berg Performed by Anne Sofie von Otter

This video features female soprano singer Anne Sofie von Otter performing The Nightingale, the third song of Alban Berg’s composition Sieben Frühe Lieder (Seven Early Songs). Alban Berg is an austrian composer who together with Anton Webern studied with Arnold Schönberg. Schönberg showed them the rules of modern twelve tone music but Alban Berg developed his own style, combining the twelve tone techniques with more traditional musical forms from earlier centuries.
The most known composition of Alban Berg are probably Lulu and Woyzeck, two operas which stand in the atonal tradition. Atonality was the logical consequence of the evolution of western concert music which can be regarded as the progressive acceptance of formerly not accepted notes in the harmonic context of a composition.

Atmospheres by Györgi Ligeti with Animation Video Art

This video shows a video animation over a piece composed by Gyorgy Sandor Ligeti (1923 – 2006) who has experimented with sounds beyond the ones conventionally produced by the traditional instruments of the symphonic orchestra.
Atmospheres was performed first in 1960 and forms part of the first electronic music pieces which certainly don’t have to do much or maybe anything with what more superficial people call electronic music (like what Chemical Brothers and many others perform).
This piece also was chosen by movie director Stanly Kubrick for some scenes of his masterpiece A Space Odyssey.

Ivry Gitlis Performing the Violin Solo Sonata by Bela Bartok

This video shows Ivry Gitlis, a phenomenal violin player, performing Bela Bartok’s sonata for solo violin. Many people can’t afford this piece (and some more of the compositions written by Bela Bartok) and even think that the violin player is playing out of tune. This happens because this sonata for violin includes microtonalities which means that the composer’s material is not limited to the well known twelve tones of the tempered piano tuning but also include more tones in between the standard twelve notes. Here the space between one note and the following one on the piano is subdivided into more subtle intervals. Naturally this kind of tune cannot be played on an accoustic piano while some synthesizers and keyboards do have a ‘bend wheel’ which would allow to play this piece.
Bela Bartok can be regarded as the most important hungarian composer and has an extensive oevre with compositions for many kinds of symphonic and chamber orchestras as well as for solo instruments. He also put special emphasis on the percussion instruments. His works for piano Microcosmos and Macrocosmos are mandatory repertoire for the beginning and advanced classical piano performer. In these and other compositions Bela Bartok recovers many hungarian, romanian and other folk tunes, treating and integrating them into the concert music repertoire.

Ionisation by Edgar Varese Performed by the Ensemble InterContemporain

Watch this video with Pierre Boulez conducting the Ensembe InterContemporain for a performance of Edgar Varese’s (1883 – 1965) composition Ionisation. The music involves many percussion instruments and some rare music instruments like the siren and the lion’s roar which you can listen to as a solo instrument at 1:15 of the video clip and as part of the orchestra at 3:08. This particular version of the instrument is suspended and the performer pulls down from beneath on a string attached to the middle of the drum head.
Not only did Varese experiment with new instruments but also integrated electronic resources into his compositions, for example on the 1958 World Fair when he wrote his Poème électronique as part of the pavilion Philips had commissioned to Le Corbusier. The piece was presented over 400 speakers located in a series of rooms, with the effect that the visitors could listen to the changing sound as they moved through the rooms. This and other experiments with electronic resources gained him the nickname “Father of Electronic Music” (which is a little bit exaggerated considering composers like Karlheiz Stockhausen and many others who actually used electronically produced and synthesized sounds in their compositions) while Henry Miller described him as “The stratospheric Colossus of Sound”. However, ther can’t be no doubt about the quality of the compositions of Edgar Varese.
Some people say that this particular recording is performed much to fast, but as far as the composer is concerned he wrote no number for beats per minute, instead he left the space empty on the sheet music.
Edgar Varese was also one of the most important influences for modern music composer and rock guitar player Frank Zappa, check out the music by this legendary musician and you will clearly hear the influence of the french composer in Frank’s music.

Gong – The Legandary Band Performing Live in 2000

Gong is a group from the 1970s era and had disappeared for some while but has come back and this video shows the band Gong playing their first gig after their comeback in the year 2000. In this clip, Gong is performing the song Master Builder from their original album You. They still count with some of their original members: David Allen, Mike Howlett, Didier Malherbe and Gilly Smith.
The band’s concept has always been to play music beyond the mainstream. The band lived together in a commune in France after David Allen, born in Australia and who had founded the band Soft Machine, couldn’t enter the UK any more for legal reasons, decided to stay in France and to continue to experiment with musical sounds.
The band developed an unique style and was experimenting with lots of strange elements, specially focussing on improvisation as the vital part of music. They also liked to appear in rare costumes and still do so as you can see in this relatively recent video clip. The music is a combination of jazz and rock elements and can be regarded as part of fusion, the style from the seventies that concentrated on the fusion of jazz and rock elements, sometimes calles jazzrock too. However, they sure are a band that plays very progressive music, specially if you consider that they were playing this kind of sounds in the 1970s.

Composer Arnold Schönberg in an Interview about Art and Music

In this video clip you can see some images of Arnold Schönberg’s paintings and personal photos while he is being interviewed about different issues.
Arnold Schönberg belonged to the painting school called Blauer Reiter together with Vladimir Kadinsky and other famous painters. However, Schönberg decided to concentrate on music. In this interview he explains how this happened.
Arnold Schönberg is a very important comoser and can be considered as the logical conclusion of western classical concert music that began with the gregorian choir music with it’s monophonic melodies that could be ‘completed’ initially only with octaves and fifths, since these harmonies are sounding very much the same and music was not for embellishment of the church service itself but for the praising of god. Attention should not be distrated from this goal and music should be no reason to attend the services. One by one, the other 11 notes that exist in between the octave – according to western tuning – where ‘admitted’ in the compositions of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and the rest of the classical composers. By the time Arnold Schönberg appeared on the music scene, every single note could be present in a composition and this meant to Schönberg and a few others that classical music had come to an end and that the logical evolution asked for atonal music, music without the conventional tonal centers that resulted from the rules of harmony.
In the background sound of the interview, you can listen to some compositions by Arnold Schönberg (Who also was one of rock musician Frank Zappa‘s favourite composers).