Some might think any comparisons, or attempts to reconcile, Western classical music with popular music would be silly. What could Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata possibly have in common with, for example, Taylor Swift’s Dear John? Well, for starters, you could say that they're both inspired works by talented composers. They are also works that have received passionate responses from people - fans and detractors. Still, however, some may find no overlap on a Venn diagram of those genres of music.
Alma Deutscher, world-renowned composer, pianist, violinist and conductor, deftly examines the divisions between classical and popular music, rich and poor, truth and lies, with her newest opera The Emperor’s New Waltz. And, as the lives of her characters and their songs unfold, she turns skeptics into believers and shows all who truly love good music just how much we have in common.
After being commissioned by the Salzburg State Theater to write an opera, Deutscher immediately began to think about what story she wanted to tell. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, she wove her own story of two swindlers who write very “intellectual” music that only clever people can purportedly understand; however, to most, their “music” really sounds like chaotic noise. Her opera goes a step further and is also a romantic comedy that contrasts those swindlers with two young musicians, who themselves stand in contrast as they come from very different socioeconomic and musical backgrounds.
Leonie Kaiser is born into a wealthy family and has steeped herself in the world of classical music. That world at that particular time in history, however, does not embrace her back with the same fervor. Determined to become a conductor, she disguises herself as a boy, Leo, in order to enter into the conservatory to study. She ends up crossing paths with Jonas, who dreams of utilizing his musical talents and interest in popular music despite his humble background as a gardener in the Kaiser household. Jonas struggles at the conservatory but ends up finding a helping hand from Leo(nie). From there, love blossoms as they discover the breadth and depth of their shared passions and goals.
Though hailing from a classical background herself, Deutscher says that she hopes “to show that classical and pop music are not as far apart as people think. Good, quality music is similar to itself.” She also looks forward to how her project on Async enables her to interact much more directly with the audience in a way that very much resonates with the ethos of Web3. When pointing to Ekaterina Lestienne’s accompanying artwork, Deutscher notes that Lestienne’s work resonates because “[Lestienne] also strives to create beauty. [... This is] the reason why [I] started creating. To bring beauty into the world.”
Having already accomplished so much in her life, one might wonder if there were any other stones left for Deutscher to turn over. Thankfully, though, her creativity has no bounds, and she fearlessly dove into the world of generative music. She explained to me that normally “when you orchestrate or study compositions of great masters, you think and ask why they chose a combination of instruments and no other in order to have one perfect version. Now, [with Async’s Music Blueprints] you can have hundreds of different options, each very beautiful.” The ability to upload various Stem Layers meant that she could “take new songs, songs that haven’t been shown before, and really experiment with different options to hear and see what she likes. Also, [she could] record with each instrument separately and get to hear the ranges of the instruments, different lines, melodies and textures.”
Deutscher’s enthusiasm is contagious for all of us here at Async and, we hope, all of you as well as we see new editions being minted every day. Each mint is truly a fresh opportunity to hear a brand new orchestration and interpretation of a song in this delightful opera from a true visionary like Deutscher.
Like the heroines in her operas, Deutscher’s talent, hard work and determination have enabled the creation of absolute masterpieces. Masterpieces in which music is never just a part of a story, or merely treated as a vehicle, but, rather, music stands almost as a character in its own right.
When asked about any last thoughts and musings, Deutscher shared her belief that “real music comes from your heart,” and her hope that other young people are inspired “to be creative and write what comes from their heart.”
We are truly, truly honored to have Alma’s Digital Collectibles on Async and wish Deutscher continued success as she also looks forward to the debut of The Emperor's New Waltz in Salzburg in March 2023.
Mint your own edition of Alma’s Digital Collectibles by Alma Deutscher here.
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