The Horn

Contact Me

Receive Email Updates

Stupid Things people Say About Classical Music

  Ever since starting my blog here at Bloogiversity.org, I've been trying to debunk myths about classical music .  Here is a recap of  some of these myths , half-truths and canards .  Some of these are myths about classical music which people who know little or nothing about it  accept blindly , and others are  myths  spread by the so-called experts  who really have an agenda of their own or are simply deluded .

   Classical music is "stuffy, boring and  elitist ".  Some people assume that  concerts and opera etc are "stuffy" merely because  classical musicians  tend to dress formally at concerts .  By no means all do ;  there has been a growing trend for  solo performers and  conductors to  wear their own  style clothes  and for men to avoid using  black or white ties , although male  orchestra members still tend to use  these ties .  So what ?  It's the music that counts . People don't go to concerts to  see what the musicians are wearing, but to enjoy the music .

   Concerts and opera performances are "boring " ?   The music itself is "boring"?   Then why the heck do so many people faithfully attend these classical performances ?   If you go to  performances , the chances are that the audience will be applauding and cheering the  musicians , not sleeping .  The fact is that  clasiscal and opera fans are every bit as passionate  and  enthusiastic as sports fans .  They cheer their home orchestras or visiting ones  just as enthusiastically as sports fans cheer their favorite team .  However, unlike sports fans in stadiums,,   they don't trash  te concert halls or opera houses after performances . 

   They argue about their favorite conductors, pianists, violinists, cellists and opera singers the way sports fans argue over   Michael  Jordan vs  Magic Johnson  or this or that quarterback , pitcher or   goalie .  They also argue over whether Beethoven or Mozart is the greater composer ,or whether Verdi or Wagner is the greater opera composer . 

 Is classical music "elitist ?"  The term elitist  applied to this kind of music implies that  orchestras and opera companies  are trying to exclude people who are not rich  and white .  Wrong !   On the contrary , they very much want to increase the audience for classical music , and to reach people whether  they are black,white or  purple . 

   Another myth : You have to be wealthy to attend the opera .  Not at all .  Of course , tickets aren't exactly cheap ,  and  ones at the Metropolitan opera can run up to $250 or more .  But you can get perfectly good ones there and elsewhere for much less .  These tickets are expensive because it costs a lot of money to produce world-class opera , and there are so many people involved in the enterprise eyond the singers ; the orchestra,chorus,  stagehands,  production staff , musical staff ,  people who work on costumes and lighting etc .  And remember - tickets to  see your favorite pop stars  or to see Broadway musicals can be just as expensive . Most  opera goers are in fact  middle-class people who go  because they love opera .  You don't have to dress formally at all ; many people gp  to the opera straight from work .  Some people dress formally on opening nights of the season at the Metropolitna opera, but  opening nights are special gala events .

   You can also see live performances from the Met  in your local movie theater for only about twenty dollars , as well as  on the internet , or see them on PBS  stations and listen to Saturday matinee performances on the radio . 

   Classical music isn't "relevant" . It's all just  musty and moldy music from the distant past .  It doesn't have anything to offer  people today . Well, relevant is a loaded term, because what is relevant to one person is not necessarily relevant to another .  Every kind of music is relevant to those who are devotees of it , and classical is no exception . 

   Yes, music from the past is a major part of classical , but there is absolutely no lack of  new or recent music by a wide variety of  living or recently deceased ocmposers .  Hans Werner Henze is a German composer just as Beethoven was , and he is one of today's leading composers , but his music co-exists with Beethoven's.  It may  may not be played as much as Beethoven is now, but  in the future he might be as famous  as Beethoven is today .  People still read the novels of  Dostoyevsky,  Tolstoy, and Jane Austen today , but they also read those of today's  leading novelists .  Where is there a conflict between old and new ?

   Here is a  misconception about classical music spread by the so-called experts .  " There's something wrong with classical music today because most of the music performed is from the past .  In past centuries classical music was a much more vital and healthy art form, because most music was new ."  Well, this is a half truth .  When Mozart and Haydn were alive  ,composing and  performing int he 18th century , the symphony orchestra as we know it was a new thing .  It had only been in existnece for a brief time, and they simply did not have the huge acumulation of repertoire we have today .  

   They had no orchestral music  from past centuries ot draw on.  In addition ,  there were only a tiny fraction of the symphony orchestras and opera ocmpanies which exist today , and  concerts were pretty much sporadic, ad hoc affairs .  America  did not  get its first  permanent orchestra until  the New York Philharmonic was founded in 1842 , and  for its first decades ,it played only a handful of concerts a year . The musicians were  free lancers and amateurs  and  could not earn a living from the orchestra alone .

   Now there are hundreds  of orchestras in America ,  in all 50 states .  There are also an enormous number in Europe, and more and more in  Asia and elsewhere .   Today ,orchestras play not only music by beethoven,Mozart, and Haydn  , but works by  who knows how many different composers  from different centuries  and  who  are not only "Dead White European Males " , but  women ,Asians, Americans ,  and  Latin Americans etc .

   Many people  assume that  people who attend concerts and opera are "snobs " . This may be true of some of them, but on the whole, they are no more snobbish  than  fans of other kinds of music . 

   For all its problems  today ,  classical music  is still very much alive and kicking , and one of the greatest glories of humanity .

  

  

Posted: May 09 2012, 09:50 PM by the horn | with no comments
Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web