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Gripping first video: ELP’s Keith Emerson and his unknown string quartets

March 17, 2016 by norman lebrecht

13 comments.


A coroner ruled yesterday that Keith Emerson took his own life by means of a gunshot wound. He had been suffering from muscular pain and a possible heart condition that made it hard for him to carry on performing. Keith was 71.

This morning, the pianist Jeffrey Biegel sent us an unreleased video from Wayne H. Lipton, manager of the South Shore Symphony Orchestra on Long Island.

Jeffrey writes: ‘Wayne put it together last night with the recording engineer for the all-volunteer orchestra which thrives on Long Island. These three new string quartets composed by Keith Emerson had their world premiere at the 70th birthday concert in October 2014.

‘A little after 11 minutes, Keith makes a quiet entrance to jam with the quartet for the third short piece. For sure, this is a side of the Keith Emerson millions of his fans never knew–except for those who attended those two evenings.’

keith emerson


Comments (13)

  1. Michael Vincent says:

    Fantastic stuff – so easy to forget that music should be exactly this; enjoyable and inviting.

    Brings me back to the first time I heard his album Honky. Pure fun!

    RIP to great man who left the world in a better state than when he first arrived.

  2. M_von_Kolinahr says:

    Very enjoyable and appealing pieces, as ever with Keith’s personal stamp clearly recognisable in the quartets too, for those who know and love his music well. Could make a fine (CD) compilation together with performances of the 1st Piano Concerto (and the 2nd too, if there is indeed one, as there seems to be) – it would be good to see these recorded and issued in full, so maybe Mr Biegel will be onto that, as he’s hinted elsewhere. 🙂 It’s good to be able to watch this video footage, associated with a great deal of poignancy when the man himself comes on at the end; older and more restrained, as might well be expected, but still very much the entertainer.

    RIP Keith… end of an era, this, but your music will survive, for sure. (… When Jethro Tull toured New Zealand way back in late 1974, at the tail-end of the so-called glam-rock era, I always remember how frontman Ian Anderson was quoted in a local music mag as saying “Groups like Yes, Zeppelin, Floyd and ELP are going to be around long after these little creeps have finished poncing around in their glitter and their striped clothes.” ‘Nuff said… he really knew full well, all right.)

    1. Jeffrey Biegel says:

      Thank you for your kind words. Yes, once things settle down, we will explore the 2nd piano concerto, which I have been ‘pestering’ Keith about for quite some time. Apparently, there may be material to look into.

      1. M_von_Kolinahr says:

        Thank you very much for your response – if more of Keith’s material does see the light of day, including the 2nd Piano Concerto, I’d very much look forward to hearing recordings of it some day. In any case, it was quite fascinating to see the video clip of the chamber music! Meanwhile, I wish you the very best of luck with your endeavors in this regard. 🙂

        1. Jeffrey Biegel says:

          Thank you so very much! I know the 2nd Piano Concerto will be something we’ll be exploring. Firstly, our deepest respect to his family is foremost, and once they find it timely to decipher what is there will bring forth his music unknown until such time presents itself.

  3. Dr.Bill Rhodes says:

    Nuances of George,Bela,Aaron,Duke,Igor …and at the helm for composition :Keith…interesting juxtapositions of tonal and atonal sonorities….and a nice 1 lV 5 bang at the end!!!! Dr Bill Rhodes http://www.symphonicpiano.com

    1. Jeffrey Biegel says:

      Listening to your tribute now. How generous of you to create. The legacy of Keith Emerson lies within his fans and disciples, and future performances of his music. Getting unpublished works into publication will be forthcoming once the initial shock and aftermath cools down. I promise to help the powers that be to guide this in such direction. At the moment, Keith’s Piano Concerto #1 is available for rental of score and parts via Theodore Presser Inc.

  4. Bill Lipsett says:

    This guy was my hero. Forty six years ago, ‘The Five Bridges’ was released. Do yourself a favor and listen to this timeless fusion of classical and rock. I’m sad to hear things were just that bad to deal with. Great musicians are hard to find; you were one of them. I had the pleasure of seeing ELP in 1974. RIP, my friend.

  5. Gary B. says:

    If you want a real treat, look up hang on to a dream – Keith Emerson Live with the Nice, on Youtube.

  6. A. Schaeffer says:

    It is not for Keith Emerson alone, that these classical compositions, recordings,
    are vital, it is for the Generation; to prove that we are of the same making of
    greatness, and deserve our mark and influence in posterity. So that we may
    be taken seriously, our musicians as an equal, to stand time.

    1. Jeffrey Biegel says:

      Amen.

  7. stephen Fone says:

    Keith Emerson was my musical hero. First saw him in 1968 with the nice at the then collage of commerce Stoke on trent and I was blown away. Saw the Nice a few times after that, then came ELP, WOW is all I can say, so exciting music and a must to see, which I did six times here in England, the last time being 1992. I was very shocked to here of Keiths death and upset to hear he had gone from us. I met him once, a warm man and very friendly. I felt for Keith. Watching some of he’s recent videos, I could see he’s trouble with he’s right hand, but thought nothing of it, as he was still playing to the best of he’s ability. To he’s fans who knocked him, I just don’t understand them. I hope you don’t get a disability and people run you down.
    To Keith. May wish you rest in peace. I feel I’ve lost a big peace of my life with him gone.
    S. G. F.

  8. Andrew Mitchell Schaeffer says:

    1st Short Piece

    Why is it classical? It reaches me — maybe it is
    the way the Artist Lives. — or maybe it’s the fight
    for acknowledgment. But within the ‘Song”, He reaches
    me. The Context is an orchestrated melange of 4 piece
    Instruments, blending into silence, a Deafening quiet
    of pronouncement: I Am!


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