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Classical Notes: October 3, 2013 Archive

The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained??

Posted at 11:24 AM on October 3, 2013 by John Birge (0 Comments)

That's the title of a Huffington Post piece which laments the atmosphere at classical music concerts. A sample:

Although I loved the music I heard that evening, I was struck at the time by how matter-of-factly my guide dismissed my observation that concerts might not be easy to figure out for a first-timer. And he took it for granted that I would find the impressive edifice and music itself a satisfactory recompense for my troubles. And he might have been right, I suppose, had I at least been allowed to authentically enjoy the performance going on inside that hall as I might spontaneously appreciate any other cultural pursuit like a movie or a dance or a hip-hop concert -- if I could clap when clapping felt needed, laugh when it was funny, shout when I couldn't contain the joy building up inside myself. What would that have been like?

Clearly this essay is intentionally provocative, and that's fine FWIW. But is anyone else weary by now of these perennial "classical concerts are stuffy and weird" rants?

EVERY event of any kind involves certain specialized ritual.
One behaves differently at a hockey game, or a Catholic Mass, or Kabuki theater.
Dinner at Matt's Bar is different than Vincent's (tho they're both delicious).
At an orchestra concert, respectful silence is presumed.

Instead of whining in the Huff Post that 'classical concerts are strange and unfamiliar and I just don't get it and I feel like I don't belong and why doesn't the world revolve around me and MY COMFORT???', wouldn't it be great for once to read an editorial that advocates opening one's mind to a new experience and appreciating it on its own terms? Otherwise it's kinda like criticizing a Zen retreat because it's not a Gospel Revival.

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