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Thread: ?Who needs classical music?

  1. #1

    0 Not allowed!

    ?Who needs classical music?

    The idea of this poll is generated from the following article on the book

    Who Needs Classical Music? Cultural Choice and Musical Values.
    By Julian Johnson.
    Oxford University Press; 152 pages

    Jan 9th 2003
    From The Economist print edition

    IN THE early 17th century, a poet stirred by the rich polyphony of church music declared
    that it showed him “the way to heaven's door”. Three hundred years later, another poet
    heard in a Beethoven symphony “mankind made plausible, his purpose plain”. Unhappily,
    reactions to classical music in our time are often less visionary. Miles Davis, a noted jazz
    trumpeter who turned to rock, pronounced it “dead @#%$”, lacking the instant impact which
    pop music offers and which pop culture of all kinds has made the global measure of
    emotional effect.

    As indifference to classical music grows, Julian Johnson, an academic and composer, has
    produced a heartfelt and finely reasoned appeal. “Who Needs Classical Music?” not only
    makes the case for the relevance of its subject, but launches a larger attack on attitudes
    which threaten to marginalise both classical music and high art in general, replacing their
    unique depth with the frissons of fashion and sensation. For Mr Johnson, mainstream
    culture has become saturated with the youth values of immediacy and novelty. Geared to
    commodities and advertising, it dismisses the more deliberate and complex responses
    which classical music requires as outmoded, unsellable and elitist.

    Indeed, so as to survive, classical music has in places begun to adopt the trappings of
    pop. Classical charts are dominated by easy-listening compilations, crossover albums,
    tie-ins with films and ad campaigns, and photogenic young performers of frequently limited
    talent. The one way for core classical repertoire to achieve hit status is by hype of its own, as in the recent
    recording of Mahler's Fifth Symphony by the Berlin Philharmonic and its charismatic new conductor, Sir Simon

    But even this kind of appeal has more to do with media than music. Mr Johnson is concerned that some people who
    profess a fondness for classical music are really more attracted by its image, staking a snobbish claim to what is
    perceived as an elite activity without making the effort of attention which classical music depends on and radically

    The very ubiquity of music in the modern world is part of the problem. Mr Johnson regards recording as a
    double-edged sword—excellent for making masterpieces available at the touch of a button, deleterious as an
    encouragement to treating them merely as an agreeable background noise to suit a mood, while away the time,
    half-ignore and interrupt at will.

    At the heart of Mr Johnson's argument is this sense that the classical impulse is different from simple
    entertainment. Classical music offers not merely the basic pleasures of melody, harmony and rhythm, but the
    meanings which these elements can reveal when explored in the process of composition by a master. It is just this
    intense emotional and intellectual engagement, shared by composer and listener, that pop music and pop culture
    reject: it is definitely not cool, a quality which denies complexity, in which work followed by chilling out define the
    parameters of being human.

    By contrast, Mr Johnson's idea of humanity is inherently complex and uniquely fulfilling, involving “the tension
    between the bodily and the intellectual, the material and the spiritual, the thing-like and its transcendence in
    thought.” Throughout the ages, people have sought to reconcile their dialectical nature, and classical music offers
    the means of resolution. From Bach to Beethoven, Brahms to Alban Berg, its mysterious processes engender “a
    squaring of the circle that we claim as fundamentally human. We understand ourselves as particular, physical
    beings, but we also value the ways we exceed the physical, the ways our capacity for thought, feeling and
    imagination seem to transcend our bodily existence.”

    Mr Johnson insists that this experience is not remotely elitist, but part of a natural human desire to possess more
    life, in more comprehension and abundance. His wise, perceptive and inspiring book provides something of the same
    humanising effect, as well as passionately answering the question in its title.

  2. #2

    0 Not allowed!


    Since we can not edit the first message of a poll the following sentence should read:
    Miles Davis, a noted jazz
    trumpeter who turned to rock, pronounced it “dead @#%$”

    pronounced it "dead sh!t"

  3. #3

    0 Not allowed!

    Re: clarification

    So far it's 100% for the fishes.

    Ironic comment from Miles Davis, since he was the very person who almost singlehandedly turned jazz to sh!t. Name one single important jazz performer after MD. There aren't any. Why? He killed the genre.

    (My favorite guy, Wynton Marsalis doesn't count -- he's really a classical instrumentalist who turned to retro jazz a la Louis Armstrong.)

    Gotta go. More later.


  4. #4

    0 Not allowed!

    Re: ?Who needs classical music?

    <span style="color:red;font-family:comic sans ms;font-size:medium;">Who needs classical music? Everyone!!! "Do fish swim?" Let's face it - life would be pretty dull without classical music.


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