Flowers of Hell Heiligen

PREMIERE: Flowers of Hell’s “Heiligen” is a gibberish opera about pushing on

The Toronto/London psych orchestra make a cut-up from the desk of Beethoven and set it to a symphony.

- Nov 24, 2016

On October 6, 1802, Ludwig van Beethoven — then 28 years old — wrote a letter to his brothers Carl and Johann expressing how his increasing deafness and depression made him want to kill himself, but he'd push on for the sake of his art. The note was never sent. It was found stashed amongst his private papers after his death. The so-called Heiligenstadt Testament, with its message of perseverance and commitment, is the inspiration for the new Flowers of Hell's song "Heiligen."


The London- and Toronto-based ambient orchestra rearranged the syllables in Beethoven's letter under bandleader and composer Greg Jarvis' baton. Even spoken in nonsense, the character of tenacity resounds, as if chasing pre-destiny. It transcends language. The quaking kettle drums, the Icarian strings, the brass, and vaporous fuzz all help, of course.

"Heiligen" is the opening song of the Third Movement of Flowers of Hell's new album Symphony No.1. Punk svengali Malcolm McLaren once told Jarvis, when he was working for a small label in Prague, that if you can make a punk song, you can write a symphony. And so Jarvis has.

Flowers of Hell's Symphony No. 1 is out December 2 on Optical Sounds.

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