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Billy Joel Goes Classical Oct. 2

The long-awaited (not so eagerly by some though) Billy Joel classical album, Billy Joel Opus 1-10 Fantasies & Delusions (Music for Solo Piano), will be released by Sony Classical/Columbia on October 2.

The release marks Joel's first album of new material since 1993's River of Dreams. The last song on that album was quite prophetic: "Famous Last Words," which said, "These are the last words I have to say."

"And that was the last time I wrote a piece of music that had lyrics," says Joel. "Right after that, I began to write instrumental music without words. That was eight years ago. I was learning a new vernacular. I've always written the music first, when I wrote the songs. But now, it was a matter of how could I make the music speak, instead of having to translate it into lyrics."

The album was recorded at the Vienna Koncerthaus at the Monzartsaal, Vienna, Austria in June 2001 on a specially selected Steinway Model D grand piano.

"There were a lot of reasons to record in Vienna," says Joel. "I have a brother who is a conductor in Vienna, and my father lives there. The nature of most of the music on this album is 19th century romantic in style, and Vienna was the creative mecca for music during this era, just as it was during the heyday of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.

"This city venerates composers and musicians, and there is also an exciting, young, vital music community there. It just felt like the right place to come to pay respects to the place where much of this music originated. There's also another element. I don't know if the word is 'ghosts' or 'spirits,' but there is something in the atmosphere itself, the way the place feels, that connects you to this kind of music."