The recognizable music from Stanley Kubrick’s famous film will be provided live by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Chorale under associate conductor Pablo Rus Broseta on June 30 and July 1, at Benaroya Hall.
“2001: A Space Odyssey,” the Academy Award-winning fantasy from Stanley Kubrick famed for replacing significant portions of dialogue with classical music, comes to Benaroya Hall next weekend (June 30-July 1). With music provided live by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Chorale under associate conductor Pablo Rus Broseta, the two evenings will deepen the cinematic experience with color-saturated excerpts of works by Johann and Richard Strauss, György Ligeti and Aram Khachaturian.
“There is not much dialogue in the film,” Rus Broseta explained by Skype. “The opening and end sequences comprise a very impressive ‘beginning-ending cycle’ that is just music or silence. And the waltz in space is delightful.”
For readers whose memories (like mine) have faded since the film’s initial release in 1968, “2001’s” justifiably famous opening and close are accompanied by the thunderous beginning of Richard Strauss’ lush tone poem, “Also Sprach Zarathustra.” As for the waltz sequence, the imposition of Johann Strauss II’s “Blue Danube” Waltz on extended sequences of space-station docking and lunar landing is a joy from first note to last frame.
Seattle Symphony: ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’
8 p.m. June 30-July 1, Benaroya Hall, Seattle; $38-$76 (206-215-4747 or seattlesymphony.org).
As a director determined to explore new territory, Kubrick did not stop there. While the use of a movement from Khachaturian’s “Gayane” Ballet Suite No. 3 was hardly revolutionary, including Ligeti’s “Atmosphères” in its entirety, as well as excerpts from his Requiem, “Lux Aeterna” and “Aventures” most certainly was.
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“Now, when Ligeti is dead, we see him as an ‘old new composer,’” said Rus Broseta. “But in 1968, maybe only musicians and contemporary music specialists knew of him. Kubrick took risks putting this composer in this film, because Ligeti expanded the possibilities of the music language.”
Asked to explain further, Rus Broseta, whose résumé reveals his strong focus on contemporary music, didn’t miss a beat.
“Ligeti was a big influence on composers that came after him,” he continued. “In Brahms, Mozart, and Beethoven, you always see melodies and clear forms. With Ligeti, clear form disappears. If you look from some distance, there’s a lot of things happening, but you will not see form. But when you listen very carefully up close, you will hear that a specific instrument, such as a violin or flute, is playing a melody. Inside, there is form. It’s like a picture with a lot of things. If you get close, there’s something there, but from a distance, there are just colors.”
While “2001” may have been a breakthrough for barrier-smashing Ligeti, the composer was not particularly happy about finding his music juxtaposed with more traditionally melodic works. In fact, after some of his music was electronically altered, it was removed from the film credits.
Nor was Ligeti the only unhappy party. English Decca, which owned the “Zarathustra” recording by Herbert von Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic that Kubrick used in the film, insisted that both entities be removed from the credits, lest everyone’s good name be cheapened. Once the film achieved success, however, Decca rushed to rake in what rewards it could.
Music lovers, too, will undoubtedly rush to take advantage of this rare experience. With soundtrack syncing requirements inhibiting Rus Broseta from making radical tempo choices, he will instead focus on sound quality and color. The combined efforts of Seattle Symphony and Hal the sentient computer should make for quite the flight.