The Big Think

March 21, 2010

Music Lover

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 6:56 am

I am both a lifelong classical-music lover and a member of a generation – the so-called Generation X – that, according to scary graphs recently published by the League of American Orchestras, has yet to show the midlife surge of interest in classical music that previous generations displayed. I went to college with extraordinarily smart people, who knew their art, literature and cinema. But few of them knew classical music. I bring such friends to concerts, and although they are pleased to be there, I often sense a slight disappointment. They admire the music, but the evening in some way falls short. And I ask myself whether the experience could be modified so that their admiration might turn to love…

People often ask whether classical music has become too serious. I sometimes wonder whether it is serious enough. Certainly, it has acquired a veneer of solemnity, but too often that veneer is a cover for business as usual. I dream of the concert hall becoming a more vital, unpredictable environment, in thrall to the wildly diverse personalities of composers and performers alike. The great paradox of modern musical life, whether in the classical or pop arena, is that we both worship our idols and, in a way, straitjacket them. We consign them to cruelly specific roles: a certain rock band is expected to loosen us up, a certain composer is expected to ennoble us. Ah, Mozart; yeah, rock and roll. But what if a rock band wants to make us think and a composer wants to make us dance? Music should be a place where our expectations are shattered.

Enthusiasm in the concert hall. (h/t Barry)

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