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Olympics: music for figure skating

In today's Washington Post: Olympic figure skating and classical music, by Anne Midgette.

Thanks to YouTube, you can watch all these programs at home before the Olympic competition even starts.

Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada) skate to the Adagietto from Mahler's Fifth.

Former world champion Miki Ando (Japan) skates her short program to Mozart's Requiem -- without words, to conform to figure skating regulations.

(Ice dancers, however, are allowed to use music with words; Americans Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto are skating to an "Ave Maria" by Caccini, sung by Sumi Jo, and the "Amen" from Rossini's "Stabat Mater." The announcers keep referring to these as if there were no other pieces in the world called "Ave Maria" and "Amen.")

Jeremy Abbott skates to Saint-Saƫns' Third Symphony to win the U.S. championships.

Ryan Bradley (who narrowly missed the cut for the Olympics) skates to something variously described as "Baroque chamber music" and "Amadeus - a Mozart medley," and is actually both.

By Anne Midgette  |  February 14, 2010; 9:40 AM ET
Categories:  international , news , random musings  
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Endless, endless Carmen variations...

I heard that skaters like mushy film scores/The Swan etc... because there is a lack of strong beat and they're not overly rhythmic. Its visually jarring if a skater's landing isn't timed perfectly with a strong beat, so to remove this complexity they use the soundtrack of Gladiator (another favourite for the men).

Posted by: ianw2 | February 14, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Ah, Carmen. Here's a link to a list of music that medalists have used the most: Carmen tops the list.
(This site also informs us that no skater has ever won a gold medal skating to "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.")

As for timing to the music - you're right, also because the skaters have to have enough flexibility to make adjustments if they fall or something. But here's the Gordeeva Grinkov program, which is pretty exquisitely timed:

Posted by: MidgetteA | February 14, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

It's a shame about the lyrics limitation, because this wonder will always be kept from the Olympics:

Would probably improve the ratings more than 90miles/hr sledding tracks.

Posted by: ianw2 | February 14, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Has Tessie Tura changed her name to Tessa Virtue for the Olympics?

Posted by: brichapman | February 15, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

For all my right-thinking friends who use Macs: right click (or control click on trackpads) and choose "Open in iTunes". It takes a long time for the files to download, but then they appear in your music library as a number and "KCO". When you click on the "Download pdf information sheet," what really appears is another web page with the recording data that you can then enter by hand by going to the iTunes information panels. Not the world's most user-friendly deal, but it works.The quality is so-so, even on really good Bose stereo speakers.

As for the best orchestra, I guess it also depends very much on when and where you hear them. It is probably very different to hear the orchestra in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam or at the Kennedy Center, in the 1990s or in the 20 10s. I'm planning to hear them tonight and I am determined to enjoy the concert, world's best orchestra or not!

Posted by: gauthier310 | February 15, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, my comment was intended for the Concertgebouw blog.

Posted by: gauthier310 | February 15, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

We skate at Goggin, Miami University, Oxford, known for its
accomplished individual and synchronized program.
I disagree with the thought on music selection relative to strong
beat/timing/landing so forth; extensive consideration is given to
selection/interpretation/elements content, the like ~mushy stuff
is not in the mix while it may in corners of the sport.

Posted by: incui | February 15, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I don't care that classical music is edited down for skating. Skating brings classical music to millions of people who don't listen to it except in such situations, and the purists among us should perhaps be glad that someone hears a work, says "Oh, I like that; what is it?" and perhaps buys a CD of it.

What irritates me is that the announcers no longer announce what the music is, nor is the music listed on the screen. If it's a medley of works, they could say so; if it's the Saint-Saens 3rd, let people know. Maybe doing so would open a few people's ears.

Posted by: owlice | February 15, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

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