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Posted On: 2 July 2020 08:00 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:07 pm

Unique musical experience celebrates return of Formula 1

Binu Cherian
Binu Cherian
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The Red Bull Ring at Spielberg in Austria became the centrepiece of an anthem in celebration of the imminent return of Formula One.

Internationally renowned percussionist Martin Grubinger combined classical music with sounds of motorsports, to create a musical opener to back-to-back Grand Prix in Spielberg: the Formula 1 Rolex Grosser Preis von Österreich on July 5 followed by the Formula 1 Pirelli Grosser Preis der Steiermark on July 12.

Grubinger brought together musicians from different backgrounds and a 150-strong choir to make his vision a reality.

At the heart of the musical installation known simply as ‘Drum the Bull’ was the steel Bull of Spielberg, which was brought to life by Grubinger and his fellow percussionists using brushes, metal and wooden drumsticks and even hammers.

“Because it is so huge, the Bull has amazing acoustics. An ordinary drumbeat sounded like a lightning strike,” Grubinger explained. “The return of Formula 1 should get a special hymn, a work that shows the world what Austria stands for in just under eight minutes.

“Tradition and creativity, technology and a certain amount of craziness. Beautiful landscapes and a love of art and culture, a backdrop that makes this racetrack appear in a different light.”

Included in the musical tribute is Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (the Resurrection Symphony), which unites the carefully placed sounds created from racing bikes, cars and aircraft.

Grubinger explained that the drivers and pilots had to be as accurate as musicians to be perfectly synchronized into the piece alongside the percussive ensemble and accompanying choir.

“There is the musical score with bars and tempo and the band playing. At the same time, we had the Formula 1 car, the NASCAR, the Porsche, the racers, we had to time them into the score. It was very important for us that they start their part at the right time.

“For example, at bar 230 we had the air racer heading directly into the direction of the Bull. At bar 237 he had to make the vertical flight. We talked about all of these things because it had to be really synchronized.

“That is the special thing with this project, this made it so much fun. These guys driving the cars, flying the planes, they are so good. They are like musicians; you could explain it to them, and they knew how to deal with it. That is the special thing with this project.”

American Cameron Carpenter, who played his International Touring Organ - which took 10 years to build – said Grubinger asked him to join for a project that was intended to be a big and dramatic statement:

"The idea really goes back to Martin Grubinger. He wanted a big and dramatic statement and Martin and I have worked together before in Germany, and we’re friends, so he kindly asked me to join and bring the international touring organ.

“I didn’t really know what I was getting into, so of course I said yes, that’s what I tend to do when I don’t know what I am getting into.”

Former Grand Prix winner David Coulthard, who was at the Red Bull Ring during filming, added that this anthem was a unique way to welcome the return of Formula 1.

"The music singing out across the hillside here in Spielberg and the noise of the engines with the planes passing over was a beautiful orchestra of noise to say welcome to Formula One 2020.

“We have not had two (back-to-back) races at the same Grand Prix circuit, so this is something quite unique. It really is going to be something very special to see who will be the winner of this delayed start to the season."

The full-length video and details of the vehicles used in the creation of the music are available at

The best experience of the piece is on the Red Bull TV App.

Source: Press release