Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The stigma of culture (II)

Continuing from where I left off the last time I posted. The continuing article is about music

The stigma of classical music
In my frantic search for music which helped me to study, I ran across an interesting site which offered radio classical music. After a while I started thinking about current generation music and how much it differs from what music was a few hundred years ago. More to the point, I was thinking of the upper class of music in those days, because frankly I can't imagine that the only kind of music was orchestra and opera. The participation at such a concert was regarded as status symbol as well as the mark of culture, or elevated education. I suspect that not many people aside from the upper middle class and high class were able to participate at these concerts and because of that, love for classical music was not as widespread.

However, the question that popped in my mind was a bit sudden. Why don't you hear about current generation famous classical music composers? Why are there no classical music concerts on MTV or other music broadcasting tv stations. I'll tell you why. Because the general society would classify those thins as either lame or beyond them. Surely, those who think that something is beyond deserve to have it beyond their grasp. What I don't understand is those who decide classical music is lame. We all know most human beings are as sheep, quick to follow anyone who expresses a strong enough point of view. And under that sudden conformism and peer pressure, even people who would have actually liked classical music will fall into the norm of not liking it, simply because his "friends" would not. Hence why the music stations both radio and tv (aside from those who are for the diehards of classical music) will never air a piece by Mozart played by the London Mozart players for example.

My father, when I asked him if he likes classical music, told me that to be able to enjoy classical music, you need to study the composer and try to think what he meant to say with that piece and I was left speechless. Do you, my dear readers, agree with him? Is it necessary to read about the piece and why the composer wrote it in order to enjoy the soothing sounds of the orchestra? Is studying musical history necessary to falling in love with the warm notes of a piano? Why am I, who never really pays attention to neither author nor title with most of the books or the songs I listen to, barred from being able to enjoy this sort of music? I opposed his idea and I still do.

But the most of my ire goes towards society. I don't think I can count on more than 2 hands the number of people I know (and note I say people I know not friends) who would not look at me funny if I were to invite them for an outing at a piano recital, and not because they hate the piano. How did this come? Why don't we hear more about current classical music composers who have created new masterpieces? Why do we hear more about Paris Hilton wanting to have a duet with Paul McCartney? Sure, you could tell me to go look at the sources who deal with this sort of thing, but this is of course my point. Why do I have to search so deep beneath the layers of information, if it actually exists, in the age of information, where a lot more useless crap is available for us to see right on the top?

In conclusion, I will look back on my previous statement of seeing Mozart on MTV, and realise that he would be twisting in his grave if he were to be placed next to Linkin Park, Britney Spears and Eminem. I know I would


  1. Well, I dont agree with your dad ofc :P I have been able to enjoy classical pieces without knowing as much as the name of the composer.
    As for your questions, well, can you imagine 10 hot babes shacking their perky asses to the sounds of the likes of Mozart, Bach, etc? The answer is no! In a time where the bottom line is "Sex Sells", you can't expect any miracles.
    Music, as most things, evolved (or regressed if you prefer) with the course of time. And the outrage shouldnt only be directed to classical music and its composers, but also to other music genres... People today, and im sorry for the generalization, but it's too many people, of what i call "Microwave generation" ( everything is alrdy done, or it can be done very fast), fail at a lot of things, and when it comes to Music how do you react when they dont even know who the founding fathers of Rock n´Roll were? Or when they ask things like "Kurt who?"...or "O Fortuna? that's from the Old Spice commercial right?"... Same goes for literature, politics, and every cultural manifestation you can think of...Expecting classical music on MTV is like wishing for a Unicorn or for Santa to show up on Christmas Eve :)
    If you are one to appreciate classical music or just curious to see how inspirational it can be, I recommend you listen to Carl Orff's - Carmina Burana - O Fortuna; or even to the Schindler's List Soundtrack ( the violinist Ithzak Perlman is nothing short of genius).Both can be found on YouTube ofc :P

  2. Here are both links of the tracks I wrote about: and

  3. It goes both ways , your father was/was not right. If you simply want to enjoy ainstream and avant-garde music written since the latter part of the 19th century (classical means a distinct period in the history of orchestral music)it's ok to listen. If you want to understand what he actually meant (often people confuse emotions they feel while listening , with what the composer actually intended) and if you want to notice the finesse in the chords ,etc you hafta study the music deeper... right ?

  4. I believe you can definetely appreciate a piece of music /culture in itself, without studying about the author and the theory/ideology behind it. But, oh how interesting Beethoven becomes when you learn he composed some of his music while deaf, and oh the sheer envy when you learn that Mozart was a child prodigy.. and maybe, this is just the philologist in me talking but... each genre of music that is truly great has an entire history behind it: some of the best music in the world (blues, jazz) was composed in response to an existing situation in society.. and it's worth looking at the context as well.