Self-proclaimed greatest rock star of all time might just have something in common with one of the greatest composers of all time. Or, at least, that’s what this one orchestra has found—that Kanye West and Ludwig van Beethoven, though the link not intuitive and both working with very different traditions, have a lot of similarities.
As Reddit user SpooneyLove points out, Los Angeles’ Debut Orchestra of the Young Musicians Foundation is currently readying a new series called The Great Music Series, the first instalment of which is Yeethoven. Debut melds together Kanye’s Yeezus and classic works from Beethoven, like “Egmont Overture” and “String Quartet No. 14 (op. 131),” and the result shows an incredible juxtaposition that ultimately works well together.
As Conductor and Co-curator Yuga Cohler points out, both musicians’ “willingness to ruthlessly abandon tradition, and their influence on that larger culture can’t be overstated,” making Kanye and Beethoven perhaps a more likely pair than one might’ve previously imagine.
The Debut Orchestra will perform Yeethoven on Saturday, April 16 at the Aratani Theatre in Los Angeles. Read more on the event below, and watch the preview for the event above.
The purpose of the Great Music Series is to explore the commonalities between the music of our times and classical masterpieces of the past. By highlighting the musical and cultural elements characteristic of all great music, the Series seeks to demonstrate that modern popular music is fundamentally similar to classical music. For its first instalment, the series will compare Kanye West and Ludwig van Beethoven.
Kanye West is one of the most famous, albeit divisive, people alive in America. Since his debut solo album in 2004, West has become increasingly prominent as a producer, rap artist, and cultural activist. Today, he is unquestionably one of the most influential figures in popular music and culture. Considering his larger-than-life artistic personality, there is no better comparison to him than Beethoven, the apotheosis of the classical tradition.
M.C.’d by myself and composer Stephen Feigenbaum, this concert will sonically illustrate the similarities between Kanye West’s latest album, Yeezus (orchestrated by Feigenbaum), and a variety of pieces by Beethoven. As the concert progresses, music by the two will become increasingly integrated, ultimately resulting in a total mash-up of the two. If you find this concert far-fetched, we invite you to come and listen – see if you can tell where Beethoven ends and Kanye begins.