Alex Jacobowitz Plays ‘Rondo Alla Turca’
The clip shows American-born Alex Jacobowitz, run through a flawless ‘Rondo Alla Turca’. The difference, however, between his performance and thousands of others who have attempted this classical gem – he plays it on Marimba.
For those unfamiliar – a Marimba is a percussion instrument that looks a lot like a Xylophone. It employs a series of wooden blocks attached to pipes that sit below, to produce a soft melodic tone when struck. What follows is a display of musicianship so proficient that it must be seen to be believed.
Walking down a typical Austrian high street, the last thing people expected to see or hear for that matter, was this… It’s 2013 on the streets of Graz and a man sporting a beautifully crafted Yarmulke announces, “For those of you who speak English, this is hard!”
“Most marimba players who play this piece go duet. Duet’s not ready for this guy” A surprised YouTube commenter said.
Yes, the truly exceptional thing about Jacobowitz’ take on Mozart’s masterwork, is the piece – traditionally played on the piano – would usually require two percussionists to cover its complex parts. Alex, with two mallets in each hand, performs it solo.
But where did Alex start on his path towards these dexterous delights?
A graduate of the State University of New York, the 1980s saw Jacobowitz study Xylophone and Marimba exclusively under percussion masters Gordon Stout and John Beck. Soon after, his prolific career as a street performer led to him being featured on the popular American TV show Entertainment Tonight.
In a masterclass he held in Melbourne, Australia – Alex explained the intricacies of his technique as “determining the world’s view of possibility” – acknowledging that an open mind is needed to be able to play the way he does.
In 1991, Alex made Berlin his permanent residence, traveling through the cities of Europe to perform shows combining, in his words “Classical music and Jewish culture, in a New-York-style street show.”
One thing is for sure – the whoops and cheers of the audience in this clip mean that they will ‘marimba’ Alex Jacobowitz for quite some time. If you want to see more from this talented musician subscribe to his YouTube channel or visit his official website.