Michael Jackson often used classical music in his concerts and within his actual songs on his albums. His concerts were filled with various classical pieces that he used to whip the crowd into a frenzy and we are going to take a look at some of the pieces of music, the composers and where and when they were used, today. The most familiar and most promoted Michael Jackson classical piece was probably his use of “O Fortuna”.
What classical music is playing before Michael Jackson’s Dangerous tour?
The piece of music is called “O Fortuna” from Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana”. It was composed in the 1930’s and it is basically a poem which Orff put to music. Michael Jackson first used it on the second leg of the Bad tour as an introduction before his computer generated “toes”, into “Wanna be staring something” (which is why on the video you see lot’s of “Victory” tour footage as well as footage edited together from his Japanese opening to the Bad tour)
It was then used as the main introduction to the Dangerous tour in 1992, to literally whip the audience into a frenzy. It was one of the best opening to tour ever.
Carmina Burana was NOT used on the whole Dangerous Tour
It is interesting to note that there were certain dates where “Carmina Burana” was not used on the tour. If my memory serves me right, this is due to some kind of opposition from Orff’s estate that was eventually settled. You will notice that the introduction is missing from the HBO Michael Jackson Dangerous tour DVD but was shown on the original BBC broadcast of the same concert. The piece of music was also used as an “Outro” during the “Rocket man” ending to the concert, which again, was replaced on the released version by just audience or “Heal the world” on some versions.
To get around this Michael used a different piece of music with the same feel as Carmina Burana … a piece of music in the style of. I have tried to find out who composed it, or if I recognise it, and I don’t. I presume that it was composed by either Brad Buxer, Stuart Balcomb or possibly David Foster. You can hear what I am talking about at the introduction to the ROYAL BRUNEI CONCERT in 1995.
Pictures at an Exhibition, Great Gate of Kiev by Modest Mussorgsky
“Pictures at an Exhibition” is a piano concerto by the Russian Modest Mussorgsky. It was composed it 1884 and was used on Michael Jackson’s History album song “History” and it was also used as an introduction to the “History world tour” with a light display and fireworks. It was also used as an outro before the final encore of the concert with Michael’s dancers acting as marching soldiers with Michael taking his bow and applause. I have to add, that I think that it unlikely that the general masses would even hear this piece if it wasn’t for Michael Jackson.
Fanfare for the Common Man and Michael Jackson live in New York
Michael Jackson performed his “30th Anniversary celebration” concerts in New Your City back in 2001. He opened with his brothers “THE JACKSONS”, in white with gold armour. He rose from the stage to the biggest pyrotechnic display you’ve ever seen and the crowd went wild. The piece of music which gave you goose pimples was “Fanfare for the Common Man” by an American composer called “Aaron Copland”. Considering that Michael Jackson was the KING of pop, it’s surprising he didn’t use more “Fanfares“.
You can listen to it and watch Michael’s entrance here
Michael Jackson was obvioulsy a fan of the number one musical genius “Beethoven”. He played the full “Ode to joy” before his “Earth Song” performance, at his Michael Jackson and friends 1999 concert and even used another part of Beethoven’s Symphony 9 in D minor (Op. 125) (other wise known as the famous ODE TO JOY) as an introduction to his Dangerous album song “Will you be there”. The album version was played by the Cleveland Orchestra (United States) who went on to sue him for credit (which they got).
Classical music in the song “Little Susie”
Michael Jackson’s “History” album is under rated in my opinion and one of the most beautiful little songs is called “Little Susie”. One of the most haunting songs of Michaels, he used “Pie Jesu” from “Requiem” (Opus 9) by Maurice Duruflé, a funeral song (“Blessed Lord Jesus, grant them eternal rest.”). Not quiet “Lacrimosa“, but not far off. A perfect use of the piece by Michael Jackson. The composer was French and died quite recently in 1986.
Other classical music in the work of Michael Jackson …
Michael Jackson often talked about his love of classical music (Claude Debussy especially) and he used various pieces in his own music and shows. There are other pieces which I don’t recognise and I think that it is because he had an in house team who composed various pieces, fro example “History in the mix volume 2”. He recorded a 4 minute introduction teaser to his History album, filmed in Budapest with hundreds of soldiers … I believe that they recorded this themselves. Same with the ending of “Man in the mirror” on tour and the choir, most probably Michael and Brad Buxer.
Finally, I hope you have enjoyed our look at the classical pieces that Michael Jackson has used and I hope you go and get the full pieces of each! Make sure that you go to Amazon and read the review on the different orchestras because it makes a BIG difference, especially with tempo in “Carmina Burana”. Another way is to go to wikipedia and look for “Notable recordings” … some are very good, others arn’t … enjoy!
By Anthony King (c)
MICHAEL JACKSON HISTORY TOUR LIVE IN SEOUL, KOREA (Part 1)
MICHAEL JACKSON HISTORY TOUR LIVE IN SEOUL, KOREA Part 2
MICHAEL JACKSON DANGEROUS TOUR MUNICH, JUNE 27, 1992
MICHAEL JACKSON DANGEROUS TOUR BUCHAREST LIVE CONCERT/DVD
MICHAEL JACKSON AND FRIENDS 1999 CHARITY CONCERTS
MICHAEL JACKSON’S HISTORY WORLD TOUR 1996
MICHAEL JACKSON’S DANGEROUS WORLD TOUR 1992
MICHAEL JACKSON’S BAD TOUR 1988
WHY DID MICHAEL JACKSON WEAR A WHITE JACKET FOR “THRILLER” IN THE HISTORY AND DANGEROUS WORLD TOURS?