If Music Be The Food Of Love, Play On: The Music Thread: What Are You Listening To?

Scepticalscribe

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Aug 12, 2020
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Twitter went a little nuts today for awhile over some tweet that Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is an exemplar of elitist, exclusive, classist music. I decided not to explore at that particular time why the New York Philharmonic apparently was engaged in this conversation (or a podcast that was the basis of the conversation). I may look that up later when I'm more in the mood for such a discussion. However, I decided that I felt badly for ol' Ludwig, who is not around to defend his composition, and so I have been listening to assorted performances of that symphony tonight. I don't really care if it's elitist. It's ripping good music.
I suspect that this may be because classical music has become identified with "middle class" leisure pursuits in some of the countries of western Europe - and, clearly, above all, in the US.

This was not the case in the former communist countries of central & eastern Europe, where classical music was seen as part of the state's cultural identity, hence classical performances were priced so as to be affordable for everyone, and appreciation of a country's classical legacy was hard-wired into the educational system and cultural landscape; attending concerts across eastern Europe, or the old Soviet Union - certainly, the Russian parts - opera houses and jazz hals were full of people of all ages and social backgrounds, and musical learning, knowledge and expertise was prized and respected in those cultures.

Anyway, this is a supremely and silly - not to mention, uneducated and uninformed - accusation, especially if directed at Beethoven (or Mozart, for that matter); they are not appropriate targets for such an accusation.

@SuperMatt mentions Wagner (and we are back to the old argument of separating the dancer from the dance, in the words of Yeats, or the artist from his art), but, Beethoven - in political terms - was a passionate radical; witness his re-dedication of the Eroica symphony (No 3, which - original - had been dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, a dedication that was furiously scratched out when the Corsican crowned himself Emperor, making it abundantly clear that the secular, egalitarian, and liberal goals of the revolution could be dispensed with, and discarded, at will).
 

SuperMatt

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Aug 11, 2020
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I suspect that this may be because classical music has become identified with "middle class" leisure pursuits in some of the countries of western Europe - and, clearly, above all, in the US.

This was not the case in the former communist countries of central & eastern Europe, where classical music was seen as part of the state's cultural identity, hence classical performances were priced so as to be affordable for everyone, and appreciation of a country's classical legacy was hard-wired into the educational system and cultural landscape; attending concerts across eastern Europe, or the old Soviet Union - certainly, the Russian parts - opera houses and jazz hals were full of people of all ages and social backgrounds, and musical learning, knowledge and expertise was prized and respected in those cultures.

Anyway, this is a supremely and silly - not to mention, uneducated and uninformed - accusation, especially if directed at Beethoven (or Mozart, for that matter); they are not appropriate targets for such an accusation.

@SuperMatt mentions Wagner (and we are back to the old argument of separating the dancer from the dance, in the words of Yeats, or the artist from his art), but, Beethoven - in political terms - was a passionate radical; witness his re-dedication of the Eroica symphony (No 3, which - original - had been dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, a dedication that was furiously scratched out when the Corsican crowned himself Emperor, making it abundantly clear that the secular, egalitarian, and liberal goals of the revolution could be dispensed with, and discarded, at will).
I don’t want to spend time attacking Wagner. I was just trying to say that Beethoven definitely should NOT be a target. Plus, the argument of classical music somehow being elitist? In almost every part of America, the classical music station is public - no commercials, and supported by the community instead of corporations. It is pop music that’s corporate.

As for becoming a performer of classical music, there are some financial barriers to entry: instruments can be expensive, and you need a private teacher if you want to make a career of it, Good music teachers in the schools can help with this by spotting talented youngsters and connecting them to private teachers, finding them an instrument, etc. if they don’t have the means. That was the case for me as a child, allowing me to have a professional music career. I don’t think that’s the case everywhere though. It’s also quite “uncool” to perform classical music as a kid, which is a shame and deters some talented musicians too.