Video: A Polish orchestra trashes down

Video: A Polish orchestra trashes down


norman lebrecht

June 27, 2015

The excellent Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Katowice has been reduced to playing hip-hop classics in a concert hall in the city of Katowice.

The conductor is a composer and producer, Radzimir Dębski, whose online moniker is JIMEK.

The video has earned nearly two million hits, but the concert leaves a bad taste.



  • Erwin Poelstra says:

    Nothing new here: the new Dutch Royal family is acting as ambassadors of electronic dance music and DJs (an important Dutch export “product”) and not even the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra can escape from it, as can be seen here (…and actually they seem to enjoy the occasion):

    • Martin says:

      And why wouldn’t they enjoy it. It is a good marriage of two of the powerhouses of the Dutch music scene.

      I found that video last year or so. It made me re-discover a taste in electronic music by watching countless “Tomorrowland” sets afterwards.

      I think this was my favorite:

    • nimra says:

      This one video is even more terrible. The Royal Concertgebouw (!) – omg, how depressing…

      • Erwin Poelstra says:

        Exactly my thoughts! This “happening”, together with the thousands of positive reactions on it, is to me symbolic of the gradual but steady decline of quality classical music and musicians in the world. A king & queen act as ambassador of electronic dance music, promoting people who are involved in it, as it is an important Dutch ‘export product’ — and they like it. A top class orchestra, in a subordinate position to a DJ, playing rubbish music, and the members of the orchestra seem to enjoy it. One can say it’s just an innocent special event, but the whole thing gives me a bad taste in the mouth indeed.

        • Martin says:

          So we agree that it is a top class orchestra.

          As per this list ( the DJ is on of the best in the world. He’s known around the world, just like the orchestra and probably more known actually.

          As millions around the world enjoy to dance to, what you classify as rubbish, electronic music, one can be almost certain that some members in the orchestra do that as well.

          They play “serious” music all year, surely one can allow them the odd occasion to mix their art with some fun.

          • Erwin Poelstra says:

            Classical music IS also fun. Electronic dance music is just…annoying, noisy. The more popular, the more quality? That’s not always the case, especially in music. Mixing two such different worlds is doomed to be a failure. Well, de gustibus non est disputandem!

    • RHornman says:

      In the end you will have to accept that classical music is classical, therefore as time goes by it will extinct. Of course classical music is fun (so is a lot of music nowadays), but terms as High and Low Art are not up to date anymore.
      Don’t act silly in thinking that the members of the RCO just like classical music, they are (hard to remember when possessing such talents) still human and like the phenomena music as a whole.

      • Erwin Poelstra says:

        No, classical music will not go “extinct”, because great Art lives on eternally, despite people like you belittling it.
        Don’t be silly by claiming to know what other people like or don’t like.

  • Martin says:

    Don’t see where your “bad taste” is coming from.

    I think he did a very good job at transcribing some of those excerpts into a version for orchestra. Must have been very difficult to find the right instrumentation.

    Also some of his other orchestral and non-orchestral works are very interesting. I could see some of his music featuring in movies. Quiet a few composers who wrote music for the screen are performed in symphonic concerts too. He might very well be a Korngold of today when we look back in a few decades.

  • Anon says:

    This hall must be Katowice’s spectacular new state-of-the-art concert hall! It’s been getting a lot of international attention. Looks great! Orchestral hip hop is a great idea. It’s no worse than most pops concerts.

  • mr oakmount says:

    How precisely is a classical orchestra degraded or tainted by playing the occasional pop gig? It’s not as if it will ruin their next Lutoslawski, Szymanowski or Mahler performance, and I don’t think that they forced lovers of Beethoven to attend this concert at gun point.
    Who knows, some fans of popular music might even become attracted to the sound of a symphony orchestra. No bad aftertaste in this mouth.
    PS: LSO Classic Rock was AWSOME says this lover of classical music.

    • John says:

      I think some of us remember a time when classical musicians got paid a living wage (and maybe then some) to do what they did best: the classical core repertoire. I doubt these orchestras are doing this for any other reason than they need the money.

      • Gerhard says:

        The reason orchestras play concerts like that is rarely the money gained from a single event. The reason is a concept mostly labeled as “outreach”. One tries to reach people beyond one’s normal audience. Any single one of these events may be questioned and critisized, of course, but the whole idea seems sensible and sound to me. I play in an orchestra that does projects of this category from time to time as well. I certainly would not wish for this to become our main occupation, but I must confess that the one or other of these events is still in my mind, while I have trouble to remember some concerts with ‘regular’ repertoire performed much later but leaving no mark.

  • Hanna Lachert says:

    And how is it different from Boston Pops or so many other American orchestras Pop Concerts?

  • Max Grimm says:

    As Hanna Lachert mentions, the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra is hardly the only one with these programs. Another example would be the “Music Discovery Project” series of the hr-Sinfonieorchester, which has been going on since 2007
    Further, you should know that the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, as a Radio Orchestra, is tasked with performing the programs the Polish Radio tells them to perform, be that Mozart or the theme-song for The Matysiaks radio drama.

  • Alvaro Mendizabal says:

    Further proof of the rapid change in the role of classical music in our society:

    1) its simply the re-organization of popular sounds played with old acoustic instruments: violin, piano, cello, etc.

    2) it no longer plays a role in its traditional sources. the new generation of Monarchs and high bourgeoisie that used to be the backbone of classical music have shifted their taste – Prince Harry or William would much rather go to a Beyonce concert than to the Opera. If you dont believe that, you are deeply delusional.

    3) in response to these developments over time, Classical music – rather than look after high income patrons – tries to address social issues and target young people which have less capital to invest in these organizations, and whose tastes are constantly shifting.

    In a few words: a train wreck if there ever was one.

    As a result, I predict that in a couple decades the orchestras will have fully transformed to these new paradigm of “classical music = acoustic pop” and only a handful will survive doing ‘Pure’ academic (classical) music: Berlin, NY, LA, Boston, Concertgebouw, Vienna, London, OSESP and perhaps 2-3 others. Thats your classical music future. You read it here first.

    • Martin says:

      I used to record many contemporary classical World Premieres, but only listened to them once, now I only record them occasionally. I’d prefer to hear some of the great hip hop or rock lyrics transcribed into pieces for orchestra and voice.

      The popular modern compositions are not for classical orchestras, but for pop artists. So an attempt to combine quality instrumental playing with popular compositions can only be welcomed.

  • Nikola Todor Atanasov says:

    So, nobody’s heard of Gabriel Prokofiev?

  • Neil van der Linden says:

    Apart from the fact that is not probable that the orchestra will refrain from other repertoire during its further lifespan, I don’t see what is wrong with this effort.
    1 They play it well.
    2 Conductor, orchestra and audience enjoy.
    3 Hiphop is the most innovative branch of music today. I don’t know whether potentially fostering a new Korngold is a criterium. Hiphop certainly is a new Lennon-McCartney, and many critics of the past on the Beatles, including the owners of the Decca company then were proven terribly wrong in their first opinion.
    4 Newly written ‘classical’ symphonic and other ‘classical’ music are approaching its expiry date. A Pärt, Adams or (and that is really worrying) Glass here and there, and that is mostly it, apart from some nice outburst here and there, that recollect some charm of the past, for instance Dutch composer Willem Jeths, British composer Benjamin. But those new efforts hardly justify keeping huge orchestra funded everywhere, the taxpayer will say. And can we blame him/her?

    • nimra says:

      Hip hop most certainly is not a new Lennon/McCartney. I am absolutely open to new innovative developments in (experimental) popular music – the music of Björk and her collaborators is but one stunning example! – but I strongly doubt that there is any real innovation in hip hop (at least, if we speak about it in purely musical terms…)
      It is terribly, terribly wrong to state that newly written classical music would be approaching its expiry date. There are lots of excellent and innovative contemporary composers around who don’t get their works regularly performed due to the general decline of musical literacy. They might not always be the most well known and, of course, as always one has to make some effort and ‘separate the wheat from the chaff’, but, for sure, there are treasures to be found!

  • J. D. Teske says:

    This doesn’t even come close to what we in the USA think of as “Hip-Hop” music. We would be happy if our non-classical stations broadcast something like this as opposed to the “thumpa-thumpa” stuff which assaults our ears at traffic stops. Would I like to see this at classical concerts? Absolutely not, which is why I’m glad I play in volunteer orchestras (good ones) so if someone programs this, I can say “we have to visit my sick mother-in-law.”

  • William Safford says:

    Mantovani for the 21st century. *shrug*