Snobbery amongest classical music audiences?

I read Andrew Mellor’s article in the New Statesman with great interest. You may not agree with his prose but it’s thought provoking nevertheless and has received some strong reactions from many different quarters . Music journalist and author Jessica Duchen has written an excellent article on her blog JDCMB, as has The Cross Eyed Pianist aka Frances Wilson, and George’s Musings (George is known as @operacreep on Twitter) to name a few.

It is strange how so many feel classical music can only be enjoyed by an elitist, educated audience. Mellor’s article appears to have been inspired by his attendance at a concert in which the programme contained many adverts for private schools.

Mellor suggests that classical concerts are often only attended by snobs, intellectuals and those who have been privately educated. He implies that some classical concert audience members are either elitist or racist. That may be the case and there is no doubt that snobbery exists in all the arts to some degree. However, this argument has been around for years and it seems to drone on without any kind of conclusion or development.

We constantly hear that the young, less wealthy or less ‘educated’ feel ostracised from or don’t want to attend classical concerts because they either can’t afford them (yet they seem to buy tickets to pop concerts and football matches with ease which are very expensive by comparison) or because they are frightened off by the apparent intellectual superiority that sometimes shrouds classical music and concert etiquette.

I have attended many classical concerts, operas and ballets  (I’ve spent a large proportion of my life going to or playing in classical recitals)  and have found them to be mostly frequented by pleasant friendly audiences who are there purely to enjoy the music.

In my humble opinion the only reason that classical concerts aren’t attended by the ‘less educated’ or ‘general public’ is because they haven’t been exposed to this musical genre. Many people wouldn’t think of attending a formal concert because they aren’t aware  of the beauty and depth found in so much classical music and opera. Therefore they are reluctant to pay to hear classical recitals. It is as simple as that and has nothing to do with elitism.

It all comes back to education – and I don’t mean private education. Here’s an idea – how about music classes in ALL schools? Why don’t politicians decide to do something worthwhile for a change? Let’s re-introduce classical music classes for children as young as five years old.  Let’s encourage little children to enjoy and appreciate the beauty in classical music before they learn to see it as ‘uncool’.

It doesn’t cost a lot of money to add extra music classes to any curriculum. It is possible to get everyone, whether they be children, young people or pensioners, excited about classical music if we present it in an attractive way. The ‘Big Noise’ orchestra and El Sistema illustrate my point perfectly. Then the apparent inability to appreciate classical music and the stigma surrounding concert ‘etiquette’ may just become a thing of the past and consequently classical concerts might not be full of ‘elitists’.

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About Melanie Spanswick

Classical pianist and writer. I love to Tweet and Blog and I love to play the piano too.
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21 Responses to Snobbery amongest classical music audiences?

  1. Music classes in all schools – I couldn’t agree more, Melanie!!

  2. Mr Mellor should venture further afield, to all the wonderful, friendly & un-snobby small music venues around the country, and to the innovative classical music events organised by the OAE and Classical Revolution. (Personally, I find jazz afficionados to be far more elitist and exclusive than anyone from the classical music crowd!) :-)

  3. Dustin Nay says:

    Wow! Can we send Mr. Mellor to Venezuela for a week? If I had the money I would! I’m reading ‘Changing Lives’ by Tricia Tunstall, and I’m also on the board of a symphony in the process of starting a program modeled after El Sistema. I’ve always hated the idea that classical music is something reserved for only a select group, but unfortunately that is the perception. It is something which every man, woman, and child should and can enjoy and experience– music brings people together and communicates emotions which bond both performers and listeners in a way words and other visual expression cannot.

    Anyway… that’s my two cents! I just found your blog googling music education topics– I’ll stay tuned. :)

  4. Hi Melanie – good that you picked up on my NS article on your nice blog, thanks! Don’t want to appear rude, but you’ve majorly misrepresented what I wrote (and, unintentionally perhaps, made me look like a pretty unpleasant chap – eek!).

    “Mellor suggests that concerts are only attended by snobs, intellectuals and those who are privately educated”. I make the opposite point, that the link with private education is ‘bizarre’ and that concert tickets at the wonderful Proms season are very cheap (marginally more than the cost of a programme!). I have had so many pleasant experiences at open-minded, diversely-attended concerts, but ‘often’ (to quote myself again…sorry!) there are people who behave badly in the audience. They are a minority (but a dangerous one, as they make other people feel uncomfortable).

    “The implication is that classical concert audiences are an elitist, racist and exclusive bunch”. Not at all – it’s a tiny bunch of ‘dinosaurs’ who are thankfully disappearing. Many people have experienced them too – take a look at the comments at the bottom of my article (or on my facebook page, which I think is open…).

    Much respect for your practical and music education work!

    Andrew

    • Hi Andrew,

      Many thanks for your comment and thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Glad you like it.

      Firstly, I had no intention of making you appear rude or unpleasant. I am sorry if you feel this way. You do however, raise a controversial topic and you must expect some responses. You will see from my blog that many others have also responded to some of the points you raise.

      They are all valid points too and of course, there is an elitist attitude amongest many across all the arts as I have already said in my blog although I haven’t had much experience of it myself. I also point out that there is nothing new about this and the point of my argument is to suggest a solution to this problem.

      My blog is all about education (as well as classical music) and it seems fitting that if we were all exposed to this musical genre from small children then there may be less of the elitism you very pointedly mention.

      It is always interesting to raise these topics but if we don’t find a solution then we will still be talking about this in fifty years!

      Melanie

  5. Hi Melanie – absolutely, and I welcome your response; there have been hundreds of responses all over the internet, but most (including the negative ones) haven’t mis-represented what I said. Just wanted to point out that you have put words in my mouth – in other words, please disagree with my actual points, not with points I didn’t make.

    I’m confident our brilliant art-form will not just survive, but flourish!

  6. Nikki says:

    Hi Melanie,

    As a classical flautist and flute teacher I have read your post with interest.

    The people I teach CAN afford to go to music concerts, but choose not to go to classical music concerts for a few reasons. Firstly, the music doesn’t interest them. They are exposed to classical music a lot not only through their flute lessons, but also through the very wide ranging national curriculum at school that covers, classical music through the years, jazz, pop, rock, blues, folk and world music and also through their playing in orchestra’s. I have students in local, regional and national ensembles and even the vast majority of these students wouldn’t ever go to a classical music concert and secondly, they do feel like these concerts are full of snobs!

    In my experience, audiences are lovely but there is an elitist snobbery element there too at times.

    The people who tut and shake their heads when people clap between the movements of a symphony, and there are many many of them who exist, are the very people who my students don’t want to mix with! Why would they? They feel they are being looked down upon.

    I don’t care if people clap between movements of a piece I am playing, I take it as a compliment that they have enjoyed what they have heard.

    Classical music needs to move more with the times, I feel if it doesn’t start attracting younger audiences it won’t continue to thrive. I know there are a lot of concerts put on for children by the countries leading orchestra’s but still attendances at main events concerts by younger people aren’t great.

    I was at Latitude last weekend and was thrilled to see thousands of people watching Lang Lang perform at the Waterfront stage. There was a group of young lads in front of us, who could have been watching comedy, pop music or been at the theatre but they were sat on the floor listening attentively. At the end, I heard one of them say “That was immense”.

    I think it is not education, it is about bringing music into a situation that younger people or people who have had no experience of classical music can “get” and I don’t think for the vast majority it is in what they consider the stuffy atmosphere of a concert hall.

  7. I agree with Nikki and with Andrew’s original point, as clarified in these comments. Education is part of it, but not all.

    I grew up on a 20,000 acre cattle ranch in the back of beyond Wyoming. The closest orchestra was in Denver – 2.5 hours away. So no chance to go to concerts. My mother was concerned about this, and made sure that we listened to classical records, learned about the great composers, and learned to play an instrument. I grew up loving classical music.

    My first trip to the formal concert hall was when I was 22, married and newly moved to California – a place with a far more relaxed culture than I was used to. Far more relaxed in every place but the concert hall that is. What I remember of that night is a general feeling of mortification. I was wearing the wrong clothes (which wouldn’t have bothered me except for the matron who looked down her nose and said ‘we don’t USUALLY wear denim to a concert, my dear,’). I made the mistake of clapping enthusiastically after the first movement and was shushed by multiple people. I grew tired of clapping for the conductor but everyone else was clapping and glared at me when I stopped and reached from my coat.

    In short – I had a miserable time. I was not allowed to enjoy the music on my terms, and no-one explained what THEIR terms were. It wasn’t in the program (I looked), there were no signs. I was just magically supposed to know these things. It is THIS atmosphere that Andrew is pointing out.

    I do go to concerts now, but I am very choosy which ones. I have never been comfortable in a ‘somber crowd’ and the classical music audience right now is a pretty somber bunch. They sit quietly, and absorb. Frankly, if the program itself isn’t dynamic enough to make the effort of conformity worth it I’d rather listen at home where I can dance, gasp, sigh and respond to the music as I feel moved.

    This is because I was given an education – one that made me passionate about the music. One that makes it difficult to sit on my hands in the average concert hall.

    As for the ‘send him to Venezuela comments: have you seen those kids in action? I saw them in Edinburgh and they were dynamic, responsive and the conductor laughed and encouraged applause for soloists. The entire brass section stood to dance at one point. By the end of the concert audience members were dancing in the aisles and the applause and shouted acclaim was thunderous. If all classical concerts were like that I would NEVER stay home.

    • Hi,

      Many thanks for your comments and views on this interesting subject. I have never experienced anything like you describe and I don’t come from an educated or musical background at all. I just happened to play the piano reasonably well and love classical music so frequently took myself off to concerts. When I younger (in my twenties) I went to at least 3/4 classical concerts per week but never really came across such attitudes. Although I will say that all genres of music have certain concert ‘etiquette’ and in my experience jazz concerts have the most unyielding unfriendly audiences.

      I am sorry that you don’t want to go to concerts much now as a result of other people’s attitudes – what a shame.

  8. rolandrjs says:

    My first point is: You’re All correct. People like or dislike ‘classical’ music for many different reasons; they are exposed to it under widely variant and multi-faceted circumstances (or not exposed at all); the same holds true for preferences and attitudes w/r/t ‘live’ concerts vs. recordings. And tastes and preferences are fluid–to the extent that many people who at one time found clasical music boring, stiff, et al, later come to love it.

    Secondly, my other thoughts are probably best expressed through my own narrative. I can empathize with Eddie on several levels: I grew up on a farm and cattle ranch (not quite so large as Eddie’s) in the almost-equally rural and sparsely-populated southwestern part of North Dakota. (To which I have recently returned and currently live.) Similar situation to Eddie’s but with some differences.
    There was little interest in classical music in my immediate family (beyond Musicals, “Oklahoma,” predictably, being the favorite), nor was there much in the individual members of the community. But collectively, and to me, mysteriously, there was.

    We had excellent music education; every child in my third-grade class learned to read music and to play, at least a little bit, something called a “tonette,” an inexpensive clarinet-like instrument without a reed and with holes covered by the fingers for pitch variation. And this was not difficult for any of us, maybe because no one had told us it was supposed to be?

    We also had an excellent symphonic “band” program, at both the junior-high (which we didn’t have) level and at the high-school level. We also had not-infrequent school wide “lyciums” (lycia?), which included several professional solo piano recitals, Shakespearean actors performing, two of the Chinese National table-tennis champions, and everything in between.

    Until one point in high-school concert “band,” I, like at least all the other boys, had found such music uninspiring, to say the least. There was also a strong machismo element–such music was considered (by us boys) as, well, effeminate; it just wouldn’t be masculine to like it.

    Then, I experienced rehearsing and performing Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” Overture, and the first movement of the Beethoven Fifth, as well as Sibelius’ “Finlandia” and other pieces of equal sophistication and quality. The Mozart Overture and the Beethoven Fifth just blew me away–I was hooked for life. (Even though my part-playing in both was itself pretty boring–I was a trombonist.)

    The take-away point of that for me is that “you can lead a person to classical music, but you can’t make them like it.” As best I can tell, and on a conscious level at least, all the preparation, learning and even exposure did little or nothing to get me to enjoy the music–it was the music itself–certain, specific music–that did that. (I detested concert “band” in general, our alleged “conductor” was a certifiable Nazi, imo–not a conducive attitude or situation, but Herr’s Mozart and Beethoven prevailed.)

    From this, which represents only my own experience (others’ mileage will certainly vary), my suggestion is to insure that classical music is Made Available to all kids–not shoved down their throats, not “taught” in the traditional sense, at least not at first–just have a room somewhere in a school with a stereo and a couple hundred ‘classical” cds lying around, and start the day with one of them playing; kids will hear a little of it, will become curious, investigate further, and some–those who are at that time and in that place ready, imo–will come to it, like it, probably love it.

    My sense is that receptivity–meaning having or acquiring a genuine love of classical music–has nothing to do with social or economic class, family income, environmental circumstances, et al. And I don’t think anyone knows the right ingredients of life-circumstances and events to generate it, if it can be proactively generated at all. People need to come to it on their own terms, like anything else. Just make it available as ubiquitously as possible, for as long as possible, and with no conditions, values or stereotypes attached. You won’t be able to keep some people (like me) away form it, no matter how hard you might try.

    Finally (I promise), back to the concert/snob, etc stuff. Yes, they’re there, symphonic and piano, violin, et al snobs, avante-garde jazz snobs (I take issue with the prevalance of these a jazz events–Which events? It depends), opera snobs, . . . we call these people “jerks,” and some of us have learned to ignore them, for several good reasons. (The people quickest to stand for a standing ovation–regardless of the merits of the preceeding performance, of which they are usually clueless–are generally those wearing the most conspicuously lavish and expensive clothes, in my observation–so what? as long as they sit down and shuddup during the concert–this really is important, becuase the idea is to Listen to the music, which means listening with some concentration, as there’s a lot there to hear–who cares?)

    I once, by sheer chance, found myself sitting next to the then-Governor of the State of Utah (where I’ve lived most of my adult life, with a few excursions elsewhere) at a concert by the Utah Symphony, under Maurice Abravanel (not the hick-orchestra you might expect–especially due to Abravanel, who had direct ties to Bruno Walter and Gustav Mahler), in which the then-still-publicly-performaing Van Cliburn played the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No 1 (Of course, what else?). The aforementioned State Governor slept through the entire concert. At least he didn’t snore …

    Music–and I include Jazz, even some forms of Blues, some pop-forms even, in this–is to you what you make it; whether recorded, at a concert, surrounded by jerks or equally- raptourous fans, and those in between–i’ve found a substatial presence of all of the above at virtually all concerts, including the few, selected “Rock” concets I’ve attended. (Btw, anyone want to hear my disquisition on motivic, stylistic and other similarities between the Blues improvizations of SRV [Stevie Ray Vaughan--who, incidentally, didn't read music, had to ask someone else what key something was in--after he wrote it--that man connected to the Divine, channeled God, however you want to put it, the same way that Mozart did] and Mozart, especially the rondo-sonata movements of the later piano concertos? …. Let me know ….) End of sermon.

    • Wow, thank you so much for your very considered comment Roland.

      You are right of course, there are so many reasons why people do or don’t like various forms of music and you cannot make anyone like classical no more than you can any other musical genre. Everyone has had a vastly different experience regarding the way they have come to classical music in their lives but I still believe – as you do – that we do have to make sure classical music is at least on the curriculum at school (it sadly isn’t here in the UK) so that children can and will be exposed to it.

      My experience with jazz snobs is purely based on several men I dated who were jazz musicians so I have been to jazz/blues concerts with regularity some years ago!

      • rolandrjs says:

        Thank you Melanie, for reading my extended rant. Yes, I agree completely about the need for making the experience of and participation in music available, as widely as possible, most especially in schools.
        My experience was long ago and atypical, even then. Music in all levels of education in the US has been decimated severely since then (as have most other elements of the Commons).
        I guess that’s why I like the idea of, at the very least, providing a small room in schools, as I described; interest would be little initially, I would guess, and it would be a sort of ‘people’s library,’ where kids would go speciically to listen to classical music. A little monitoring would be required so it doesn’t turn into a mess, and to keep it used for its intended purpose. But, given that the room could be quite small, the cost to supply everything needed very small, by institutional standards, what’s to lose? Most school administrators would probably think the benefit of getting some of the students some of the time sitting quietly in a room listening to Mozart would benefit the school and mitigate other costs and then some, as opposed to idle time and mischievous deeds. It could at least be a starting point; as interest grows, so too will support for re-introducing more extensive music programs in schools, I would hope. Sounds good in theory, but . . .

        I’m going to take a guess here, and one based on the male perspective, with which I’ve had a little experience: I suspect that what seemed to you to be snobbery at jazz/blues concerts probably had more to do with the men there (performers and otherwise) trying to impress you with their knowledge and sophistication than anything else. No doubt, there are plenty of jazz snobs around, and you almost certainly experienced much of that, in its pure form … but I know how guys act around attractive women, and especially, intelligent, educated women who are themselves professionals at the same thing as the men present–its intimidating, and men react to that first with fear, then with defensive puffery to show you that they know something too, and ultimatley, to impress you.

        The male ego and/or priorities …. same old, same old. . . :) I hope these guys were at least good jazz/blues musicians–not all are.
        How did you happen to reach such rarefied heights as a pianist, coming from a non-musical family, and one with relatively little interest in classical music (like my background, but, in your case, With the achievements)? As you know, that’s somewhat rare …
        I’m a sort-of half-baked (classically trained) pianist, a fully-baked theoritician, and a one-fourth-to-one-third baked jazz a blues guitarist; Which makes me most baked of all in the piano, which I love, everything about it, connissuer of performers, recordings, styles, techniques, etc., …. (but hopefully, not a snob–I just really love it–same for jazz guitarists and the creme de la creme among the most brilliant Blues guitarists). So anyway, it’s always a delight to meet soeone who Really knows what they’re doing. I’d love to talk shop (by which I mean, I ask questions, then listen) about all things piano and otherwise musical. Are you by chance familiar with a young Russian pianist named Daniil Trifonov? He’s apprx. 20, maybe 21 now, from Moscow, (I don’t think he studied at the Moscow Conservatory, but not sure), and currently in the US at the Cleveland Conservatory. He has won some of the most major of most major competitions–the Rubenstein, Chopin, and, the Mother of them all, the Tchaikovsky, just last year, I think. There is a fair amount of concet footage of him of You Tube.
        I haven’t been so impressed by an up and coming young pianist in decades–really. He is, imho, the next incarnation of Rubenstein (but with more technique). He “specializes” somewhat in Chopin, also Scriabin, both of which are superb, but his Chopin …. it sends me into orbit. I especially am moved by his performance of Chopin’s “Adnante Spianato and Grand Polonaise,” it’s worth a listen. And he clearly deeply loves the music and becomes immersed in it, transfixed by it, as he plays, as Rubenstein did. A lot of creativity too–there’s one video from, I think, the Rubenstein Competition in which he plays a Scarlatti Sonata–but not like I’ve ever heard that particular piece performed before–as idiosyncratic as Glenn Gould (another hero of mine–you either love him or you hate him). Also worth a listen. I’d be really interested in your reactions.

        Also, I’m interested in your pedagogy; wondering what, if anything, can be done to enhance the far-from-fully-formed technique of a genuine geezer half-pianist …. any hope there at all, do you think?

      • Hi,

        I love all your comments and suggestions – it’ great chatting to other bloggers and classical music enthusiasts like yourself. I began studying the piano because I asked if I could! I was about 10 years old so very old in terms of a professional player. I just loved it – couldn’t keep away really – they had to ask me to stop practising!!! I have enjoyed playing and have made a career out of it but I play much less now – i was ill 2 years ago (am much better now) so stopped performing and started writing – which I also love. I have kust completed my first book about piano playing and I am in the process of finding a publisher!
        I love Glenn Gould – think he is underrated in many ways – it’s funny you mention Daniil Trifonov – I am going to the Edinburgh Festival in a few weeks (big Festival here rather like the Proms) to review and blog for them – and I think I will be reviewing Trifonov. I have never heard him live so can’t wait. One of my teachers trained at the Moscow Conservatory so I am very aware of their style and technique – which I love.
        I am about to open a YouTube channel am going to vlog and teach on camera to try to help amateur pianists. Will let you know when I start!
        I am sure you are right about the men I went out with! Although they weren’t particularly good players – one was more of a writer/composer and the other a Musical Theatre bod!! Yes men always try to impress don’t they?!! Do keep in touch :-)

      • rolandrjs says:

        Hi Melanie,
        Great to hear from you. You have quite a remarkable history–beginning at age ten is really unusual for someone of your accomplishment, and doing it just because you wanted to, with no family history of exceptional musical aptitude or expression … pretty amazing. I am very much aware of the process, for those with sufficient talent and drive, of becoming a mature, thoroughly technically proficient and musically literate serious pianist … it’s like training for the Olympics (speaking of which …), but for about 15 consecutive years, four, six, later eight, ten, twelve or even more hours per day practicing. And you know the old adage, if you miss one day of practice, you notice it, two days, your teacher and other pianists notice it, three days and everyone notices it.

        As I suggested earlier, I did not take it that far (and didn’t begin serious intensive study with a master pianist and teacher until I was twenty years old–talk about starting late), but over the years, I found that it was taking me four hours a day of practicing just to keep up–just to stay where I had been the previous day; any advancement from that, well, that began in the firth hour. And for people like you, who start at an age when there’s still some plausible chance of making a living as a performing pianist eventually, the process is several times more grueling than that. Astonishing, really, that you had that much determination and desire at that age, all seemingly pulled out of thin air. The talent was probably innate, but the desire and dedication at such a high level, all self-generated, just you alone behind it, at any age, but especially so young, that is truly amazing. Some story for sure!

        I looked for your book on Amazon (the US Amazon)–could not find it there, nor as an e-book. I’m guessing you decided to take a different route on publishing it and have not published it as an e-book? Or it could be that the US incarnation of Amazon just doesn’t have it yet, which frequently happens. I did find one of your recordings though–“Liebestraum.” Not available in the US as a cd but available as an mp3 download. Although I put listening to mp3 format recorded music in the same category of enjoyment as having nails pounded through my skull, I’ll probably bite the bullet and get the mp3. I was able to listen to parts of each of the (21, if I remember right?–a generously full recording) pieces. Hard to tell listening through a computer, but as best I could tell, the sound and recording quality were at leat a couple notches above most anything else I’ve heard in that format–sound quality was amazingly good, full, rich, I think a few overtones snuck in when the geeky sound compression engineers weren’t looking …

        Really enjoyed what I heard of the performances too. Was the Spanish (Rhapsody?) by Granados? It’s been a while since I listened to that general repertoire, but I used to listen to much of it, mostly Alicia de la Rocha. The piece on your recording is a difficult one; you sound as if you weren’t even breathing hard with it technically, and your interpretation had plenty of atmosphere and Spanish passion. Couldn’t hear enough of the Rachmaninov Prelude to get much of an impression, but it started well. The piece near the end, second or third to the end, that one really got me … Schumann, from … Kreisleriana, right? wrong? (Amazon US helpfully provides what they seem to think is the title of each “song,” providing such titles as “Op. 32, Bb M.” and nothing more–even the “artist” (composer) isn’t listed; the artist is you on every “song.”

        Oh, and the Scott Joplin piece, the Entertainer, I liked quite a lot what I was able to hear of that–I liked your more nuanced, less ham-fisted touch and the dynamic shadings, don’t usually hear Joplin Rags played with such eloquence.

        As you play Rachmaninov Preludes and Joplin Rags, you must either have large hands or were still growing and flexible enough to develop a wide stretch, even if you didn’t start until age ten. Highly impressive playing, all around. I’d like to hear your other recorded performances. Do you have some videos, or just audios, for that matter, on You Tube, Soundcloud, etc., of live concerts, competition performances, etc.? I hadn’t thought of that till just now–guess I could go and look …. Amazon isn’t the only source around. Well, I think I can say with confidence, you difinitely have musical talent :)

        Glenn Gould: what needs to be said about him … nothing, in my view. People can quibble about his tempos, have dull discussions about historical accuracy of this or that ornament he snaps off …. i don’t much care ….(talking just about Bach here) ….I have never, ever heard anyone anywhere bring out (or understand) the counterpoint anywhere close to as well as he does. Even his detractors usually admit that. I do enjoy more traditional (if you can call anything of Bach played on a modern piano traditional) performances of many of Bach’s keyboard works, but the performances I always come back to, time after time, are the Glenn Gould. He was also considered the most intelligent pianist of his generation, eccentricities and all. I wasn’t quite old enough to have heard him live, but a couple of my teachers did–and more. One was the staff pianist for the Utah Symphony, for symphonic works which included a piano part–not for concerto solos. He played in the second half of a concert (a Shostokovich Symphony, I think? … can’t recall exactly), in which the first half had featured Glenn Gould playing a Concerto. There again, I don’t recall which one–I wasn’t there, I just heard the story from my teacher who was, and was the aforementioned pianist. God, I hope it wasn’t the “Emperor.” at least not a repeat of the infamous conditional performance of it with Bernstein and the NY Phil.
        Anyway, the punch line of this seemingly endless meandering is that Glenn Gould stuck around for the second half–the Shostokovich, or whatever it was, in which my teacher was doing journeyman work on the piano. By “stuck around,” I mean Gould actually came out onto the stage, into the orchestra …. and sat down Underneath the piano …. during the performance, while my teacher was playing. (He said it made him so nervous he missed an entrance.) But what the heck, why not? Gould came out and positioned himslself before the piece actually began, so he wasn’t interrupting anything. And, have you ever sat or lay down under a piano when someone else is playing it? Very loud, but the best seat in the house, I think. I used to do that routinely, even before I heard the story about the famous eccentric Canadian. Gould had many eccentricities (all the stories you’ve heard about him are most probably true), but the musical ones, and even many of the others, have a strange sort of logic and coherence to them. Fascinating pianist and fascinating person.

        Daniil Trifonov: See earlier comments. I envy you.

        Men, egos, et al: Yup, that’s about right. Keep in touch. :)

        Roland

  9. Adam Garrie says:

    Just stumbled across your blog. I couldn’t agree more. Even without teaching music theory or an instrument, kids in all schools should at the very minimum be introduced to the great composers and I would introduce them to contemporary music as well. Give kids access to all genres of music and let them decide which is for them. Everything from Beethoven to Miles, Bach to Stockhausen

  10. I actually like what you have acquired here, certainly like what you’re saying and the way in which you say it.

  11. vento says:

    In my case it’s not because I ‘haven’t been exposed to this kind of music’. it’s because most classical music doesn’t make me feel anything when I listen to it.

    Sure I enjoy the sound of some musical instruments such as the violin, the Chinese violin, the flute, the church organ, the clavecin, and so on when they are played in a emotional manner (at least according to my own physical reations), but i can’t stand the emotionless way most of ‘professional’ musicians play them. I can’t stand when a musician focuses more on playing other people’s works, on ‘technique’ and ‘complexity’ than on ‘emotions’.

    If a song was made to express sadness, it must make you feel sad. If a song was made to express happiness then it must make you feel happy…..and no matter if it’s complex or if it’s the simplest song ever made. And, that is something i cannot find in classical music

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