The Uncanny Valley

Notes on art, culture and preservation

Last Waltz for the Netherlands (i.e. an octupus-free World Cup post)

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Shostakovich’s Waltz No. 2 always seemed like fittingly upbeat music for losers to wallow in, but imagine a stadium full of Holland fans riffing on it like a football chant.

So it is. Here’s one last sendoff for the close-but-no-cigar Dutch national team.

The clip is from halftime at a match at Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium. The leader of the chant? None other than Andre Rieu, the frivolous, self-esteeming, undisputed king of classical music’s lower middlebrow and a ubiquitous presence on public television (especially, in the US, during pledge drives). The waltz, which has sort of become Rieu’s trademark, is definitely not the most obscure piece of music in the repertoire. Even so, it’s a bit astonishing to discover that soccer fans — alleged hooligans — already know it well.

Now, Rieu is Dutch, so he may well be a celebrity in his home country. Maybe the fans needed to rehearse the melody before the cameras rolled. Or maybe AFC Ajax Amsterdam’s supporters simply admire the beauty of Shostakovich.

(Here’s a clearer recording for the admirers and for the uninitiated.)

Score one goal for classical music literacy — for now.

Also, congrats to Spain on the victory.


Written by cwmote

July 17, 2010 at 6:50 pm

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