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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: October 28, 2011 Archive

Learning about Classical Music from Baseball

Posted at 11:06 AM on October 28, 2011 by Brett Baldwin

Albert Pujols by Aspen Photos/Shutterstock

With last night's thrilling baseball game, and tonight's first 7th game in a World Series in 9 years, I wondered how we might help tell that story in Classical Music.

Doing some initial searches, it became clear I wasn't the first to broach the subject, and I don't think I'd ever be able to recreate it in as much detail as David Lang's opinion piece for The New York Times last May. And while it's a piece about spring and the upcoming season, it fits just as well for the final game of the year.

Lang posits:

It turns out that classical music fans do a lot of the same remembering and measuring as baseball fans. Both baseball and classical music have a great sense of history, a tremendous respect for the past, and a slew of nerdy people like me who want to know all the details. Both are made of people who argue passionately with each other about who was the greatest. We handicap our favorite composers and performers, we buy 20 recordings of the same piece just to be able to argue about interpretations. We want to know as much about where we have been as we can.

But the real home run (sorry) comes at the end:

I think what baseball projects, and what classical music needs, is the sense that one goes to a live event not to experience greatness, but to experience the possibility of greatness. It really comes down to risk. We revel in the risk inherent in the clash of competing ideas and options, before time evens them out into a few straight, orderly narratives. The game, the concert, the experience in front of us — the chance to experience greatness is a risk. Not every game is great but what we go for is the chance that this particular game might be. Maybe for baseball fans the possibility of greatness alone is reason enough to go.

So get out there, and explore the possibility of greatness.

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