Resurrection Symphony

Nov 14, 2019

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"Oh, you have to do it."

"I will."

That's a promise I made seven years ago. It was 2012, I believe, before my Aunt Jill's cancer diagnosis. I was sitting in her living room and we were talking about my thing where I listen to classical music while watching Illini football games. Aunt Jill and I attended symphonies together for years, and I told her how I will often, in my mind, set Illinois football to music. "Maybe some day I'll make a YouTube video of training camp set to Holst's 'The Planets'", I told her.

"Oh, you have to do it."

That was seven years ago. My Aunt passed away in the fall of 2013 from liver cancer. I've written about that before here on the blog. I mentioned how Scheherazade was our favorite piece of music, and any time it was being performed by the St. Louis Symphony, we would attend together. In fact, I remember emails about that with IlliniGrad, a frequent commenter on the site who also passed away several years ago. I think it was my post about Scheherezade that prompted our emails about classical music.

I tried my hand at making one of these videos once. When Jonathan was the photographer around here (before he moved to Florida), I had him take some video of training camp and I was going to do the Holst thing. But after a little bit of time messing with it (video editing software is not my friend), I gave up. It was lame. I couldn't get what I pictured in my minds eye (a football fluttering in the air to the opening strings of "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity") to work in the video, so I gave up on it.

But I've always had in my head that I promised my Aunt Jill that I would do this. Because this is how I watch Illini football. At least when I'm in the pressbox. I need something to calm me down, and it's usually Mahler or Tchaikovsky or Chopin. So when I'm watching, there are sometimes these... moments where the music matches the game. I've written about this before. Shostakovich 7 (Leningrad) was my choice for the beginning of the 2014 season because it speaks to total annihilation. That kind of thing.

Mahler 2 is the Resurrection Symphony. It is five movements that peer forward to the beauty of the afterlife. It became my listen during the Michigan game (I think I even tweeted that I had reached the end-of-the-third-movement "death shriek" once Michigan made it 28-0), and so the final two movements were quite apt for the second half of that game.

And they're very apt for this game. Mahler was quoted as saying the following about the closing movement of his second symphony:

"The increasing tension, working up to the final climax, is so tremendous that I don't know myself, now that it is over, how I ever came to write it."

Disbelief? Triumph? Yeah, that fits.

So, for Aunt Jill, here it is. It's just music and football - no play-by-play - because that's how it exists when I'm in the pressbox.

Illinois 37, Michigan State 34. The Resurrection Symphony.


ktcesw on November 14, 2019 @ 03:48 AM

Bravo, Robert!!

Watty309 on November 14, 2019 @ 06:59 AM


BelieveInIllinois on November 14, 2019 @ 07:20 AM

That was GREAT!!!

DB50 on November 14, 2019 @ 08:06 AM

Mahlers’ words, with a little tweaking, are an apt description for this improbable win. Nicely done Robert, I’m sure, somewhere, Aunt Jill is smiling & nodding approvingly!

Douglascountyillinifan on November 14, 2019 @ 08:42 AM

Very well done, my friend.

SactownIllini on November 14, 2019 @ 09:07 AM

That ending brought tears to my eyes!! Fantastic work!!

Boneyard Surfer on November 14, 2019 @ 09:45 AM

This post alone is worth the cost of a subscription. Thanks, Robert.

HailToTheOrange on November 14, 2019 @ 11:45 AM

What other CF blog does anything like this?

We're lucky to have you.

HiggsBoson on November 14, 2019 @ 12:01 PM

That was well done, Robert. Though it has not changed my opinion that the symphony died with Papa Haydn

Gary48 on November 14, 2019 @ 12:22 PM

Very, very cool. Thanks Robert!

track on November 14, 2019 @ 04:41 PM

Great editing! I'm more of a jazz man, but I enjoyed your choice of music. My eyes got a little moist at the conclusion. Hope you make it available on YouTube to a wider audience.

MoCoMdIllini on November 14, 2019 @ 05:15 PM

This. This is best in life.

ktal on November 14, 2019 @ 05:51 PM


illini67 on November 14, 2019 @ 06:20 PM

Robert, we have always enjoyed your writing, but now are amazed at this beautiful look at the ballet of football victory. We are officially calling you a genius. Great job!

IBFan on November 14, 2019 @ 06:29 PM

GTF outta here. Outstanding.

LongLiveTheChief98 on November 15, 2019 @ 09:34 AM

Oh man, I should not have watched this at work. Now to come up with reasons why my eyes are red.

Absolute brilliance, Robert. Required viewing for all Illini Nation.

orngblu on November 15, 2019 @ 05:46 PM

90% of what I know about classical music is contained in your article above, but I really enjoyed the crescendo when Barker makes "the catch". Standing O!

Eagle on November 15, 2019 @ 10:09 PM

And you do this all the time? That's crazy! What an incredible experience that was. Thank you Robert.

ATOillini on November 16, 2019 @ 09:05 AM

Scheherazade? That's right up there with Imatorbhebhe in degree of difficulty.

Great stuff Robert. Thanks

GilThorpe on November 16, 2019 @ 10:42 AM

Nicely done, my friend

next to the victory over O$U in 2007, this is my favorite game of all time due to the comeback aspect of it. I will admit to having stopped watching it when we went down 28-3, and was brought back to the game from a tweet from my son in Boston when we missed the point after to tie. Am I ever glad I was able to see the last 5 minutes in real time.

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