Dead Symphony no. 6

Lee Johnson

An Orchestral Tribute to the Music of the Grateful Dead

The Russian National Orchestra

Lee Johnson, conductor

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Billboard Charts #20

Best Classical Albums

Dead Symphony no. 6, 2008

Release Date: 2007 
Label: Jammates Records  
Catalog number: 67538 

Editorial Reviews
From Reuters Life: THE GRATEFUL DEAD made their name playing improvisational music born anew with every performance, and now an American composer has sought to capture their psychedelic spirit in a classical symphony. "DEAD SYMPHONY NO. 6" by LEE JOHNSON encompasses some of the band"s most familiar melodies and its most otherworldly jams in a work in 12 movements. The symphony is "a musical embrace of American culture" and a natural outgrowth of the band"s spirit. Highlights include movements based on the Dead"s psychedelic classic "St. Stephen" and the rarely played "Mountains of the Moon." There is even an improvised portion, in the lament "Stella Blue." Johnson chose songs based on their melodic potential and overall fit. A movement based on the song "Here Comes Sunshine," for example, stretches the original melody in time so it is almost unrecognizable amid the harmonies. One ambitious movement was based on "Blues for Allah," which was played live only three times by the Grateful Dead. In Johnson"s version, a clarinet"s jaunty refrain evokes American composer George Gershwin, while deep cellos envelop the movement in its powerful Middle Eastern theme. The symphony"s overture and finale include strains of "Funiculi Funicula," the much-parodied Italian song the Dead used often as a playful tune-up riff.