Ars Longa Vita Brevis (album)

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Ars Longa Vita Brevis
The Nice - Ars Longa Vita Brevis.jpg
Studio album by The Nice
Released November 1968
Recorded 1968
Genre Psychedelic rock, progressive rock
Length 40:13
Label Immediate
Producer The Nice
The Nice chronology
The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack
Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Ars Longa Vita Brevis is the second album by the English progressive rock group the Nice.

Guitarist David O'List left the band during the recording of the album, leaving the remaining three members to complete it. After flirting briefly with replacement guitarists (including Steve Howe, later to join Yes), the Nice decided to carry on as a keyboard-led trio. The title is an aphorism attributed to Hippocrates usually rendered as "Art is long, life is short"; Keith Emerson's interpretation of this can be gauged from his sleevenote:

Newton's first law of motion states a body will remain at rest or continue with uniform motion in a straight line unless acted on by a force. This time the force happened to come from a European source. Ours is an extension of the original Allegro from Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. Yesterday I met someone who changed my life, today we put down a sound that made our aim accurate. Tomorrow is yesterday's history and art will still be there, even if life terminates.[1]

Structurally the album started where its predecessor left off—shortish songs and extended work-outs based on classical themes—but a step forward was taken with the addition of an orchestra and the extended length of Ars Longa Vita Brevis itself, foreshadowing the later Five Bridges Suite. Furthermore, this album contains some songs in which Keith Emerson sings lead vocals: he shares the singing duties with Lee Jackson in "Daddy, Where Did I Come From", sings all lead vocals on "Happy Freuds" and sings the bridge in "Little Arabella".

Guest guitarist Malcolm Langstaff died in 2007.[2]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4/5 stars[3]
Rolling Stone(neutral)[4]
TopTenReviews11/15 stars[5]

Allmusic's Bruce Eder described the album as "a genuinely groundbreaking effort".[3]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Keith Emerson and Lee Jackson, except where noted.

Side one[edit]

  1. "Daddy, Where Did I Come From" – 3:44
  2. "Little Arabella" – 4:18
  3. "Happy Freuds" – 3:25
  4. "Intermezzo from the Karelia Suite" (Sibelius) – 8:57
  5. "Don Edito el Gruva" (Emerson, Jackson, Brian Davison) – 0:13

Side two[edit]

  1. "Ars Longa Vita Brevis" – 19:20
  • "Prelude" (Emerson) – 1:49
  • "1st Movement – Awakening" (Davison) – 4:01
  • "2nd Movement – Realisation" (Jackson, David O'List, Emerson) – 4:54
  • "3rd Movement – Acceptance "Brandenburger"" (J.S.Bach, Davison, Emerson, Jackson) – 4:23
  • "4th Movement – Denial" (Davison, Emerson, Jackson) – 3:23
  • "Coda – Extension to the Big Note" (Emerson) – 0:46
Bonus tracks on the 1973 Columbia release
  1. "America" (Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein)
  2. "2nd Amendment" (Emerlist Davjack)

Added to side one (tracks 1 and 2) on the Columbia Records release via their Columbia Special Products subsidiary.[6]

Bonus tracks on the 1998 rerelease
  1. "Brandenburger" (Mono single mix)
  2. "Happy Freuds" (Mono single mix)
Bonus track on the 2005 rerelease
  1. "Happy Freuds" – 3:27


The Nice


  • Malcolm Langstaff – guitar (6b)
  • Robert Stewart – orchestral arranger, conductor


  1. ^ Liner notes, Immediate LP Z12 52020, 1968 (Canadian pressing).
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 August 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  3. ^ a b "Ars Longa Vita Brevis". 13 July 2005. Retrieved 8 November 2008. 
  4. ^ Mendelson, John (14 June 1969). "Records". Rolling Stone. San Francisco: Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. (35): 37. 
  5. ^ "TopTenReviews – External Link". Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  6. ^ Ars Longa Vita Brevis (Liner notes). The Nice. New York City: Columbia Records. 1973. 
  7. ^ Although it is clear from examination of the cover that the three x-rays are identical