Monday, February 12, 2007

Mozart Requiem Basketball Shoe Commercial

Just as I was leaving the gym this morning I heard the Lacrimosa from the Mozart Requiem coming from the large television set that is always set on the sports channel. I had to stop to figure out what was going on, and I now understand, because of a commercial that is no longer available on YouTube, why people are so emotional about watching basketball.

I started thinking about the idea of basketball fans responding to this commercial (it ended up being a commercial for sneakers, specifically XX2 Air Jordans) and I decided to give a bit of encouragement to those people who might have been moved enough by the music to do an internet search.

So for all the basketball fans who have made it to this blog in search of the music for that remarkable commercial, I welcome you. I now understand your passion for basketball through my passion for Mozart. It is my hope that you might understand my passion (and lots of other people's passion) for Mozart through your love of basketball. I can't think of a better introduction to the miracle of music than the Mozart Requiem. You have your choice of many to buy online. Price isn't an issue with classical music recordings (unlike basketball shoes), so a less expensive recording on a lesser-known label could be just as rewarding as a more expensive recording on a better-known label.

UPDATE: A big thanks to the person who let all of us know (by way of a comment here ) that the Mozart Requiem recording used for the commercial was performed by Andreas Delfs conducting the St. Olaf Choir and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.


Anonymous said...

do you know the exact name of the song (piece) used in the commercial

Elaine Fine said...

The piece on the commercial is from the Lacrimosa section of Mozart's Requiem, a piece Mozart wrote on his deathbed. He actually died before he wrote the final sections of the Requiem, and the first eight measures of the Lacrimosa section were the very last notes he wrote. Mozart's friend and student Franz Xaver Süssmayr (along with a few other friends) finished the Requiem, along with the Lacrimosa, after Mozart died.

Anonymous said...

thanks, you rock!

Anonymous said...

That particular version for the commercial was performed by Andreas Delfs, Anton Armstrong, St. Olaf Choir and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Anonymous said...

I just bought it on I tunes a i love it. I was on the other end of the room when i heard the commercial. I asked my dad and he dident know what it was so i surched the xx2.

Anonymous said...

It's definitely my favorite commercial out there, since I like both basketball and classical music. I was looking at your profile and noticed that you have a heavy musical experience. Can you tell me anything about how one becomes a conductor of an orchestra? I have a large interest in this genre, but barely any experience, and I'm in my early 20s. Just a shot in the dark, I don't expect that it's possible now but I never know.

Elaine Fine said...

Becoming a conductor does take a lot of preparation. The best thing to do is to learn to read music (conductors have to know everything that everyone is doing at all times in a given piece of music) and to play an instrument (or two, or three) very well. The playing very well part is essential because a conductor has to gain the respect of the musicians that s/he is conducting.

Twenty is certainly not too late to start, but if your goal is to actually become a conductor you might not reach it until you are 35 or 40. Learning music for the sake of learning music has its own rewards though, and on your path you may find, once you have learned some basic technique on an instrument, that playing in an orchestra is as much (or even more) fun as conducting one. The rewards of practicing an instrument come immediately, and they continue throughout your musical life.

In order to be a good conductor you need to have extremely good interpersonal skills, and you have to be able to listen, respect, and respond to the musicians you are conducting. A conductor, in the ideal world, is actually a person who makes it possible for the members of an orchestra play together with a maximum amount of security, self-confidence, and comfort. A conductor also needs to have an excellent sense of rhythm, a lot of physical stamina, and an excellent ear.

I would encourage you to listen to a lot of music. Maybe you could take a music appreciation course at your college, if you are a college student, or take a class at a community college. Explore the music that moves you, and choose the instrument that you feel would fit your personality. Find a good teacher, and see where the experience takes you.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'll ask the obvious question: there are a bajillion recordings of Mozart's requiem - why St. Olaf Choir and SPCO?

Elaine Fine said...

That is a good question. I imagine that the mastermind of the musical part of this commercial must have owned the recording. Who knows. S/he could have gone to school at St. Olaf. S/he could have been in the chorus or known somebody in the chorus or orchestra.

The people making the commercial might have listened to several recordings of the Lacrimosa and picked the one that they felt best expressed the feelings they wanted the commercial to express. It might have taken them a long time, but then again, it might have taken them only a few minutes.

Anyway, whoever picked the music and recording did very well in my book.

I imagine that getting rights to use a St. Olaf recording with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra would be far cheaper and easier than getting the rights to use a recording made on a label like Sony or EMI.

I do hope that this surge into the public eye will help the careers of the people involved with making the recording.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the lengthy response and your advice on conducting.. I'm currently listening to Rhapsody in Blue. What you said is an aspect I've never thought about and it's interesting to know. I'd love to learn more about classical music, what you like, your favorite kinds of music, and any recommendations you can offer. And any other questions you could help me out with in the future would be great, too. I think it'd be great if we could correspond through email ( or AIM (I can give that to you through my email)... Thank you.

Epicure said...

Am I the only one that hated the ad? The visual's great, the music's great, but they 'jar' together. I didn't think they went well together At All.

I personally prefer Karajan's recording with the Wiener Philarmoniker - it flows over you like no other recording. I've heard people say that you haven't listened to Mozart until you've listened to a performance by Sir Neville Marriner; unfortunately, I haven't heard the pleasure yet.

Have you heard this one? How does it compare, if you have? What recordings have you listened to?

(Sorry I had to cut it up; Blogger kills the formatting otherwise.)

Elaine Fine said...

There are certainly a lot of recordings of the Mozart Requiem that are considered to be better than the St. Olaf one, but there is so little of the piece in the commercial that it is pretty hard to compare.

There is also nothing wrong with disliking the unlikely pairing of the Lacrimosa with a basketball game. I found the juxtaposition interesting because of its introduction of an unlikely piece of music to an unprepared audience.