When Classic Meets Cult

When classical music meets Rock n’ Roll, you get a violinist who plays Nirvana with Vivaldi, Metallica next to Bach, and mixes Michael Jackson with Mozart.

In other words, you get David Garrett.

At another recently sold-out performance at O2 World in Hamburg, the 30-year-old German native enthralled an audience of 11,000 fans of all ages, backgrounds and personal tastes. According to an article in the Hamburger Abendblatt, grandmothers and teens alike listened with rapt attention as the violinist skillfully switched between cultured classical compositions and edgy, in-your-face rock favorites. It is his skill at expertly “wandering between worlds” that makes Garrett’s style a “mainstream compromise” for the masses, appealing to the rebel and the aristocrat alike.

Beim Wandern zwischen den Welten hat Garrett eine Schnittmenge gefunden zwischen arriviert und rebellierend, zwischen Rock ‘n’ Roll und Klassik. Nichts für die Menschen, denen “ihre” Musik heilig ist, sondern ein Mainstream-Kompromiss für viele.

The son of a German lawyer and American ballerina, David Garrett picked up his first violin when he was just four years old and has been playing ever since. His journey has been a steady rise to stardom: often called a “Wunderkind” of classical music, he won his first prize in a violin competition at the age of five, began performing in public at seven, attended London’s Royal College of Music and Juilliard, and has since released several albums.

Remarkably, his life story resembles that of another European “Wunderkind” born over 200 years ago: three days before his fifth birthday, it took this little boy “all of thirty minutes … to master his first musical composition.”

Like Garrett, Mozart also reportedly went through a stage of his life characterized by rebellion, challenging the status quo through musical arrangements and devising new techniques to gain popularity for an outmoded genre.

“These forms were not new, but Mozart advanced their technical sophistication and emotional reach. He almost single-handedly developed and popularized the Classical piano concerto.”

The website David-Garrett.com describes Garrett’s similar avant garde approach to musical composition thus:

the visionary violinist has committed himself to a clearly defined goal – introducing young people to the classics and kindling enthusiasm for reputedly serious music.

In other words, Garrett wants to transform classical music — typically regarded as unapproachable and bourgeois (think bowties and powdered wigs), especially by the younger generations, into a more palatable, pop form.

Like what the movie Amadeus did for Mozart.

However, as blogger Jim Sullivan points out, by chasing the mainstream, Garrett runs the risk of alienating musical purists of either genre.

But Garrett doesn’t seem worried about that. In his talk with Jim Sullivan he’s quoted as saying:  “I don’t necessarily see the dangers as long as you stay true as to where you’re coming from, which for me is classical music.”

And it’s doubtful Garrett’s classical rockstar image will fade anytime soon — he recently joined that elite group of stars with their own fragrance lines. You know you’ve reached celebrity status when people want to smell like something because it has your name on it. His brand? “Single David.” According to an article in Promiflash.de, the women are going wild over that one — but the former model likes to leave them hanging. When asked after the concert how he liked the girls in Hamburg, he said coyly, “I like Hamburg. It’s a beautiful city with beautiful architecture, but as for the Hamburger girls, I can’t say. I went straight to my hotel after the concert — alone.”

(If they ever make a movie about David Garrett, I doubt that part will be included.)

Rock me, David Garrett.