When British composer Max Richter was a little boy, he fell in love with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I’m sure you know it. (If you don’t, I promise you’d recognise it the second you hear it). Max was completely captivated by each “season” within the piece, and decided from a young age that he would be a composer when he grew up. But there was a problem. Max also loved computers and electronic music, and he knew these two things weren’t very well suited to the world of classical music.
So Max trained classically at the Royal College of Music in London, and then went to Italy to study with Luciano Berio in Florence. After completing his studies, he formed a classical ensemble called Piano Circus, where he started to explore live sampling on his computer. Realising that you need to understand the rules in order to break them, Max now felt like he was in a position to look at how the classical world could be (respectfully) remixed.
Sadly, during this time Max realised that he had fallen out of love with his favourite piece of music. Over the years, advertisers and marketers had used parts of Four Seasons so many times for campaigns and ringtones, that Max stopped enjoying it. Supermarkets were playing it over their tannoys, and it seemed like every elevator had taken it hostage as its background music of choice.
Max wasn’t happy.
But instead of complaining about the way which business people are allowed to manipulate art or music for commercial gain, he chose an “emotional response” instead. Richter decided he was going to carefully and meticulously recompose the whole piece. Using live sampling and computers in post-production, but just a pencil and paper for the composing itself, Max set about remixing this epic piece, refusing to stop until he fell in love with it again.
What resulted is one of my favourite compositions of all time. (You can see the full performance here if you have NowTV).
The whole piece is amazing, but there is a short section at the beginning of “Winter” lasting just 180 breathtaking seconds, which blows me away every time I hear it. [Listen here].
“It’s really out of this world. It’s as if an alien has picked it up and pulled it through a time warp.” Daniel Hope (Violinist on Winter 1 from Vivaldi:Recomposed).
John Lennon once said,”Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time“. I think if I were to spend my whole life working hard but wasting my spare time on fun creative projects, only to leave the world with three minutes of something life this, I think I would consider it a life well spent.
See you you think. x
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