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Classical Musicians and Sport

Despite a seeming incompatibility of such concepts as "music" and "sports", they've been going hand in hand for a number of centuries. In sports, music was often used to accentuate the importance of an event. It stimulated both the public and the athletes. Today music in sports is used quite often. However, the question is, how can sports be used in music?  

The classical musicians and composers are considered to be the founders of “musical” sports. And rightly so; possessing remarkable talent, these people were the first ones to introduce complex passages and techniques into music pieces, hitherto unknown to anyone.

  First it looked like the modest attempts based on the desire of classical musicians or composers to insert something new and unusual into the symphony to surprise the public. But with each subsequent opus the majority of composers mastered the possibilities of the instrument or, instruments, for which music was written.

Classical musicians mainly used keyboard instruments, and soon there was a lot of “novelty” in symphonies. Eventually, these novelties were replaced by the new ones and so on. The composers continued to create new masterpieces and neither deafness, as in case with Beethoven, nor blindness, as with I.S. Bach, was capable of preventing these people from writing new compositions.

We are not going to go too deep into the past and we shall concentrate our attention only on those composers and performers who influenced modern music the most.

The first person to consider in this discussion is the Italian violinist Niccolo Paganini. Having extraordinary long hands and fingers by birth, Paganini quickly mastered violin and guitar. He developed his talent and has broken all known records of tempo. The apex of creativity of the great Italian violinist was 24 caprices and 5 concerts for violin with an orchestra, where the great maestro demonstrated his genius brilliantly. There is perhaps no one who can possibly surpass him in performance technique.

However, if Paganini was the first among violinists and guitarists of his time, then the classical musicians had a number of keyboard instrument players with great technique. However, there were leaders among them as well. The first ones to mention are Frederick Chopin and Franz Liszt. And if the Chopin has left only his own "sports fantasies, then Liszt, trying to show the infinite opportunities of a grand piano, in addition to writing his own compositions, liked to set the opuses of other composers written for a symphonic orchestra to the piano. Can you imagine the speed at which the hands and fingers of a musician have to move in order to simultaneously play all parts of an orchestra on one black and white keyboard?

Besides the classical musicians, classical composers liked to get singers, who performed their vocal pieces.  The biggest ordeal was endured by the tenors. Quite often they had to sing such high notes that would cause a regular person to lose their voice. But even the professional singers sometimes managed to strain their voices after the first two or three lines. For example, singing a part of the Astrologer in the opera “The Golden Cockerel” by Rimsky-Korsakov.

As for the percussion instruments, the musical sport arrived at utilizing them mainly due to black jazz musicians at the end of XIX century. Every year, jazz music became more and more complicated. Because of its complexity of performance, it soon became the elite music.

Parallel to the development and popularity of jazz in America, the Spanish flamenco guitarists were emerging in Europe, competing among each other. They perfected the performance tempo to such a level that many of the compositions sounded like one frantic trill. It was absolutely impossible to remember a single note from it.

Fresh breath in musical sport was rock music and its first bands; The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Cream.

But the first one to really develop a sport approach to rock music was the legendary Jimmy Hendrix. It was he who showed what was possible to do with a guitar. It was aerobatics of musical acrobatics!

And this is only a small part of the long list of the well-known classical musicians and those who participated in the Musical Olympic Games.


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