Classical connections

AndoAndo South Bend, INModerator Gallato RS-39 Modèle Noir
edited August 2005 in Repertoire Posts: 277
Is anyone keeping a tally of the "classical" compositions played by Django and gypsy-jazzers? There can't be more than a dozen or so. What are they? I can only think of three [sic] at the moment (without coffee, at work, no CD's handy):

Grieg's Danse
Albinoni's Adagio
Mozart's "Alla turca"

It's easy to think of more that *could* work:

Bach sonatinas, partitas
Chopin's valses
Brahms' hungarian dances
Debussy's easier preludes (la fille aux cheveux du lin, bruyeres, etc.)
Faure', selected melodies
various arias from famous operas and operettas

Anything from Stravinsky? Milhaud? Rachmaninoff? Django stated in an interview in 1946 that he was most interested in modern classical composers. Any more details about this?

Faure's "Pavane" could work as a csardas, with strong Slavic <i>arco</i> bass viol keeping the pulse.


  • CuimeanCuimean Los AngelesProdigy
    Posts: 271
    Marc Atkinson has recorded some Chopin pieces. Andrew Bird's been known to play passages from Bach partitas and from Ravel's String Quartet in F Major (which I've heard was inspired in part by the waltzes being played in the Parisian dance halls of the day).

    Has anyone attempted Saint-Saëns' "Danse Macabre"?

    There are passages in Shostakovitch's String Quartet No. 8 that have a very Eastern European feel; perhaps these could be adapted.

    On second thought, a swingin' rendition of a piece of music dedicated to the victims of war and facism might be in poor taste.

    On third thought, who knows? There's certainly enough room for deep pathos in Django's music. Perhaps it could work.
  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,752
    Not sure if you've already thought of these; it seems like you mention thinking of 3, but list 6...and I'm not sure if you're looking for 'straight' versions by gypsy jazz players...

    Improv. on Tchaikowsky's starry night 02-01-49
    Improvisation sur le 1er mouvement du concerto en ré mineur de J.S. Bach 11-25-37

    (The above are from )

    To me, the Csardas out there are in that crossover category; when I played Csardas de Monti for a classically trained friend, it was the one piece on the album she recognized, and she just picked up her violin and started playing along. I'm pretty sure there are some other ones that were played often enough, particulary by the Germans (Friss Csardas, etc.). I could be way off base, though, and if so I'd be glad to be corrected.

  • nwilkinsnwilkins New
    Posts: 431
    Most of Satie's compositions would work well, particularly the Gnossiennes, depending on the skill of the arranger.
  • AndoAndo South Bend, INModerator Gallato RS-39 Modèle Noir
    Posts: 277
    Nice thread, gents. How about Schubert lieder? Some are really lively and fun, like "Das Wandern" from Die Schone Mullerin. Some are pit-of-despair types. The emotional range is broad, the harmonies clear, and the motifs wonderful.

    Of course, you have to deal with making quality improvisations next to these glorious composed melodies, but eh, what's a little challenge to bring out the best in yeh? If you balk, you can always make-it-new by arranging in artful ways, or inserting cadenzas, making medleys, etc.

    There's something very consistent between playing certain strains of gypsy-jazz (such as tsigane music) and playing i.e., fooling around with classical music. The two styles fit very well together, all the way from their choice of instruments to the way their melodies are ornamented.

    I'll post some mp3's when I get my recording set-up in better order.

  • trumbologytrumbology San FranciscoNew
    edited August 2005 Posts: 124
    Racmoninov's Prelude in C-sharp minor, I believe, also done by the N. King Cole Trio.

    I like some of the John Kirby sextet arrangements of classical music, which have been criticized by some as facile.

    A while back I made a compilation of swing and jazz versions of classical pieces for an opera buff friend. We're currently working on volume two...

    There's the Art Tatum and Ike Quebec (Ike's is an especially cool bossa) versions of "Going Home," which takes a theme from Dvorak's New World symphony.

    Going a little farther afield, anyone who hasn't heard New Orleans piano prince James Booker's version of the Chopin Minute Waltz should pick up a copy of his albums "Junco Partner" and "The Bayou Marharaja." That guy changed the way I look at the world.

    Raymond Scott's "The Quintette Plays Carmen" is a great small-group swing arrangement.

    If the thread continues I'll dig out my notes and see what I've overlooked in my own collection.


    Neil H.

    P.S. I need to check on exaxtly which Rach. prelude I'm talking about, in light of the comment below about C-sharp minor being a killer on piano. I might have written in error (egad!)
  • AndoAndo South Bend, INModerator Gallato RS-39 Modèle Noir
    Posts: 277
    trumbology, thanks very much for that post. I'm amazed *any* ensemble has recorded the Rachmaninov C-sharp minor prelude. I play that piece pretty regularly as an exercise on the piano, and it's a major work-out. I can't imagine arranging it for trio, let alone attempting the triplet chord-cascade on guitar.

    Carmen... *slapping forehead* of course! The habanera of course, but there's some extraordinary entr'acte music as well. Bizet was utterly reckless and profligate with melody, like emptying bushels of peonies on the sidewalk. Other opera composers are cramped scrooges by comparison.

  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 657
    There were two small folios of classical pieces arranged by Baro and Sarrane Ferret called "Contraste Guitare" 1 and 2 published in 1951 by Leon Agel - Schubert, Mendelssohn, Weber, Schumann, Chopin, etc. Needless to say, these are a bit challenging to play. Sarrane Ferret recorded a Mozart sonata two times and he also was playing "Adagio d'Albinoni" back in the 60s. Francis Moerman plays pieces by Bizet (L'arlesienne) and Sainte-Saens. Matelot Ferret recorded a piece by Franz Lehar. Boulou Ferre's appetite for Bach is well-known. Joseph Reinhardt snuck a bit of "Rhapsody in Blue" into Djangology or some similar tune. Many of Joseph R's compositions and arrangements are clearly influenced by modern orchestral music.

    Basically there is a long history of this kind of thing...

  • François RAVEZFrançois RAVEZ FranceProdigy
    Posts: 294
    Also Shostakovitch Valse n°2 (from Jazz Suite n°2) became a hit in France after it was used in a commercial for an insurance company on TV. It is now a favorite among the Roms who play accordion in the metro in Paris.

    François RAVEZ
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    bireli quotes a lot of classical music in his playing ... lots of paganini, mendelssohn, beethoven....

    he especially uses a lot of concepts from paganini (double stop arpeggios)
  • Colin PerryColin Perry Montreal, QCNew
    Posts: 115
    Ando wrote:
    trumbology, thanks very much for that post. I'm amazed *any* ensemble has recorded the Rachmaninov C-sharp minor prelude.

    Speaking of that, Eddie Lang did a beautiful solo version of this piece as the B-side to April Kisses.
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