Classical Music, Humor

Let Classical Music Die Already, Part 2

vivaldi-2Two months ago, I wrote the most read and discussed piece on Covered in Beer. Never did I think that my rather basic opinions of a generalized category of music would cause so much discussion. Some people really didn’t read past the title but decided to call me an idiot in the comments anyway. Most, thankfully, read the piece and then engaged in a discussion. Whether they agreed or not, I appreciate their (and your) views on anything I write because the point is to generate debate. “Let Classical Music Die Already” certainly did that.

(Read the original piece, “Let Classical Music Die Already,” here)

The piece was inspired by an editorial in my local paper about why Classical music is still valuable and deserving of our public dollars. I took the position that it is not and I’m tired of being told that I’m too stupid to realize its value. I wasn’t arguing that a nuclear bomb should be applied to the genre and it should be vanished from the turntables of hipsters and intellectuals around the globe. But some believed that I was arguing that point. My argument was that the general population can and does decide what it wants to support with its dollars. It is obvious the masses haven’t chosen Classical because people constantly have to remind us how valuable it still is. I’m not going to re-argue that point because I think I did a good job of that in the original piece. I did, however, make some mistakes and generalizations in my argument that need to be corrected.

My main blunder was portraying the Classical music world as not wanting to evolve by coming up with ways to survive. I did mention that the New York Metropolitan Opera created a way to generate money by broadcasting live performances in movie theaters around the world. But they are just one group of many who are actively trying to save the genre. I came across an organization called “Classical Revolution” that is trying to remove the pompous façade that seems to cover Classical by putting on small concerts in bars and less formal venues. The Huffington Post ran a story about the president of the Philadelphia Orchestra who is getting university students to concerts by offering them cheap membership and access to tickets that would have otherwise gone unsold. There are many examples like these that I overlooked. I should have done more research before I portrayed the majority in the Classical community as a bunch of stuffed shirts who are unwilling to change with the times.

I also omitted a few places in pop culture where Classical plays an important and valuable role as was pointed out by a few of the good comments. Classical is still being composed and used in video games and movies quite prominently. I was making a very generalized argument, which I admitted, and overlooked this element of the genre. But again, I was not saying that all music played by orchestras should disappear, so I don’t think this omission devalues my argument.

The purpose of this piece is to be an addendum to “Let Classical…” not a correction of it. I think that I made a convincing argument and I stand behind it. I also feel vindicated by the number of people calling me uneducated and troglodytic because of my opinion. Some of the people commenting decided that a good way to counter my argument is by saying “you’re a big stoopy-head.” I’m glad I struck a chord with these people because it exposed their overall obnoxious opinions of people they disagree with. I don’t say “elitism” because that word is overused and let’s face it, some people are smart and some are dumb; being smart doesn’t make you an elitist. But people aren’t dumb because they dislike a genre of music. Commenter after commenter who didn’t like the title of the piece accused me of dooming the culture because I wanted to wipeout high art. My aim was the opposite. I wanted to save “high art,” as they called it, by suggesting ways it could evolve and quit begging for public money. You can certainly disagree with me, that is fine, but to be offended by my opinion is petty and it showed in the comments.

Frank+Zappa+zappa_la_19761“I’ll tell you what classical music is, for those of you who don’t know. Classical music is this music that was written by a bunch of dead people a long time ago. And it’s formula music, the same as top forty music is formula music. In order to have a piece be classical, it has to conform to academic standards that were the current norms of that day and age … I think that people are entitled to be amused, and entertained. If they see deviations from this classical norm, it’s probably good for their mental health.”

– Frank Zappa

I agree with Frank. In fact, his work is a good example of the diversity of opinions music generates. There are some Zappa songs that I hate and there are some that I think are brilliant. I could argue that he was horrible by using the songs I hate and I could argue he was a genius by using the songs I like. The same goes for Classical. Music is a matter of personal taste, as you know. The term “pop” denotes popular, not a style of music. Classical was once pop, as was classic rock or blues or etc. But Classical is different in that it is the only genre that we are constantly trying to preserve. That is fine if that is what the people want, but my argument is that it isn’t what the people want.

Classical should be celebrated for its staying power and it should be preserved for its history. I am a fan. I think that the composers and producers of it add great value to our society. I think that symphonies provide an important service to the public and should be celebrated for the art they showcase, just not on my dime. An example of the music I love can be found on my “Funk Music Friday” page. I also love reggae, rock, neo-soul, jazz, blues and so on. Like most of you, my tastes in music, like my opinions, are dynamic, not “troglodytic.” If you disagree with my argument, then that is equally human.

96 thoughts on “Let Classical Music Die Already, Part 2”

  1. Okay, but is there any music we are not trying to preserve? I think don’t think there is any form of music that is completely dead, is there?


    1. My husband and I were discussing yesterday the phenomenon of changes in popular music and, what I believe is a detriment, the loss of understanding of any meter other than common 4/4 time found predominantly in pop and rock music. The most prominent example is the national anthem, which was written and should be sung/played in 3/4 time (BAH-bum-bum). We had high hopes that the opera singer at the Super Bowl would use her musical knowlegde to make this correction. However, even she opted for the the drawn out 4/4 version which has evolved as pop stars butcher the Star-Spangled Banner. While in ages past, the waltz (3/4) possessed a natural feel to its listeners, most people today can only understand meters in beats of 4. In my opinion, this is plain boring. Fortunately there are some artists who use other meters or even mix meter (Sting is a prime example) because they were trained to read music and understand classical styles. Some of today’s most popular artists cannot read a single note. (I do say *some because fortunately a fair majority do, but this appears to be changing as we’ll.)
      Like so many bits of history, we should not forget the roots from whence our music comes. That being said, people also need to understand that music and art need to be paid for by those attending the concert of their choice and not expecting free musical handouts at every turn. I pay public radio and Sirius XM for my classical fix (as well as that of many music categories) and I pay for tracks I want to own. It is the fact of of a free market economy, even though I would prefer something more communal in order to fix our ailing American culture.

      And there is a huge difference between “public” and Government Support. Public support keeps PBS going with donations from listeners/watchers a few dollars at a time. Government support is all but extinct. Tax payers don’t like sharing their money, so they think. Fire stations, police and schools are socialist establishments we all pay for, two of these with the hope we will never have a need to use. Music outside of school is not included. And inside of school, there is a never ending fight to keep it.


  2. I can see where you’re coming from. I like some classical stuff, and you may be old enough to remember the Hooked on Classics of the 70s and 80s, and LPs of Classic Rock which included Bohemian Rhapsody and Nights in White Satin! The only opera I saw was Tommy, but I’ve always wanted to see Madame Butterfly.
    Music and ‘The Arts’ (to generalise) are indeed a personal preference. I like Il Divo, not so much from the classical angle, but because I love their harmonies, and Carlos is a fabulous baritone (but then so was Roy Orbison).
    I cannot abide the garbage spurting from the mouths of pretty boys these days, but put that down to my age. I’d hardly call The Beatles or Stones boybands, but that’s what they were really, in their day, not that I was a screaming fan of either.
    Music may evolve, but it also tends to revolve, going full circle but just with a different tilt or lyric.


    1. I hate to admit it about the Beatles because I’ve loved their work since I was 5, but you are correct. I’m sure you could find some scathing reviews of work we deem to be important classical pieces today as well. Thank you for your interest and comment.


      1. I liked some of the Fab Four stuff too, but must admit it wasn’t until the late 60s and 70s before I showed any interest in record buying. My biggest collection, if any, was The Moody Blues!


  3. Ok I liked this follow-up post! I think the points you make are pretty much all valid, but I guess I still take issue with the idea that money/profit should be the primary method of determining whether a type of music/art/film/whatever should be preserved. I guess I just think of it in a broader sense, as in, there’s lots of stuff in human history that’s important to preserve, even if it isn’t money-making.

    That said, I think the term “preserve” is part of the problem that you’re getting at – the idea that classical music has to stay rigid and unchanging, that the only “real” classical music worth listening to is the stuff published by “the greats” over 100 years ago. And I think that’s a failing of the people who defend classical music, and who don’t appreciate contemporary classical stuff like the compositions of Eric Whitacre & etc. who are successfully helping the classical style to evolve. So yeah, perhaps I don’t really disagree with you as much as I thought!


    1. Good, we don’t need to agree on everything. I’m glad you like the new post. The point is to generate debate, not agreement. It makes doing this very interesting. Thank you for willingly offering your opinions on my work!


  4. I think the comparisons between genres of music are irrelevant in this argument. It seems to me that you are just arguing that you would like to stop being bothered about ‘saving’ the arts, which is fine. I would agree with you that classical performances need to begin to lend themselves to the culture by becoming more readily available and affordable like you’ve mentioned several groups have done. In regards to classical as a whole dying and not evolving, I would have to say that is incorrect. Kenny G, Yo Yo Ma, Aston Music, The Piano Guys, and other classical musicians are not hurting in the least and they fill up concert halls quite well. Classical music has evolved to include instruments that aren’t classically classical, for example: the bass guitar, electric keyboards, and synthesized sound. I grew up in the D.C. area and The Wolf Trap’s philharmonic tickets sold out just the same as anyone else’s. Furthermore, movie soundtracks and game soundtracks end up on top one hundred charts as well.

    So, I suppose you’re just saying you don’t care for classical and you don’t care to support it? I would say the same for trance and electronica.


  5. No genre of music will ever completely die. There are too many people with too many different tastes. Personally, I love classical music. Show me a song that can make someone cry today thats simply instrumental. I can think of one artist. So to me, thats something to be preserved. Music should make you feel something. But since this post has nothing but opinions in it, i’m going to throw mine out there and say that I think country music should die because its awful.


  6. Gee. And me a classical music major and all.

    You know, there’s no public/government support for the arts in the U.S. Other countries have national symphonies, ballets and other artistic endeavors that represent them to the world, but we don’t. All our groups are privately funded and usually scrabbling for whatever $$$ they can dig up. Classical music doesn’t rake in the big bucks anymore and obviously you don’t care for it. But I love it and always have. I play it pretty well, too and my favorite composer remains Beethoven. It doesn’t mean I don’t like other popular and populist music too. I love all kinds of music. I just love symphonic music best.

    Classical everything is losing the battle to survive anyway. Ballet companies are disappearing. Opera companies too. “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” sang Joni Mitchell.

    And, as Ronald Regan, in his infinite wisdom reminded us when asked to save the remaining redwoods from being turned into lawn furniture: “When you’ve seen one tree, you’ve seen them all.”

    With each thing, each animal, each genre, each art form that disappears from our world, this world becomes less rich, less varied, more bland, more shallow, more derivative. You don’t have to give your money to anything you don’t personally love … but many of us love this music because it’s beautiful, it speaks to us. Not because it’s snooty or snobbish, but because it’s rich and complex and delicious.

    It’s all private money anyway, so why does it bother you? Just don’t contribute. Most people don’t.


    1. As I stated in the first post, $70 million of the tax payer’s money is being used to fund a new auditorium in Charleston, SC. That doesn’t only benefit the “arts” as you say, but it mainly benefits the symphony and operatic endeavors. And if there is zero public support for the arts, what is the National Endowment for the Arts? PBS? Public Radio? National Endowment for Humanities? Etc. Etc. There is a lot of public funding for the arts. I wouldn’t simply make that up because I don’t “like classical.” (Which I do as I stated many times in both pieces.)


      1. Public radio gets such pitifully little funding that they are constantly hosting endless begathons. Many people DO support the arts. They do contribute. I used to contribute by buying season tickets back when I could afford it, but I can’t anymore. A public auditorium is not just for the symphony. It’s for choral music (you know, those high school and college competitions? Christmas? … Any form presentation that requires a large auditorium. How many cities publicly fund baseball and football stadiums, eh? I don’t even like football … but I pay anyway. And my son is 43 years old, but I pay school taxes.

        The amount of money we pay to support the arts is NOTHING compared to what we “contribute” to funding private drug companies to produce drugs for which they then charge us through the nose. Inidividual artists sometimes manage to get grants … are they less worthy than athletes and big drug companies? Really?

        Just because YOU don’t like it, YOU don’t need it … so what? What I like or you like is not the ultimate statement here. I don’t make the decisions. If I did we’d be putting the drug money into public schools, the football stadiums into conservation and environmental clean up, improving roads and a better health care infrastructure. Spare me the moralistic incantations. The arts are cheap. We pay much more dearly for far less worthwhile stuff. Look up the numbers and compare them.

        One football or baseball stadium could fund the arts for a decade. Puleeze.


      2. The reason I didn’t include any ideas for better uses for the public money is because they are infinite depending on what you like or want to support. So what if the public funding doesn’t compare to so and so? Does that mean I’m not allowed to argue against it? My argument is as presented. If you don’t like it, say so, but this rant is exactly why I wrote part two. If “the arts are cheap,” then why is the New York Metropolitan Opera $100 million in debt? You don’t have to like my argument but it is preposterous to make the case that I can’t or shouldn’t make it. Of course I can. I respect your ideas and your support for my work but I will continue to write and opine about anything I want because it is mine.


      3. Oh, by the way. Symphonies and operas are rarely performed in auditoriums. They are performed in symphony halls and opera houses where the accoustics are designed for that kind of music. I’lll bet Charleston has at least one of each that is home to whatever orchestra and/or opera companies reside there. Often opera houses share time with ballet companies. Orchestras usually need a very different type of venue.

        Auditoriums are used for large public events, high school graduations, choral competitions … and other kinds of public concerts. They make a lot of money renting such places out. They host a lot of private events and make their investment back many times over. Not that you will ever see the money. Once the government spends your money, it is gone baby gone.


  7. I think the fundamental problem here is that so many people argue that classical music should be preserved WITH TAXPAYER DOLLARS. I enjoy a lot of classical music and I would be sad if it went away, but I still don’t think the government should be paying to keep things around that the free market (in this case, record sales) has deemed outdated. If private corporations, nonprofits, etc want to spend their own money preserving classical music, that’s great; I just resent being made to pay exorbitant taxes just because the government has decided that classical music (among other things) needs to be saved. (As a side note, I think classical music is doing just fine, what with Eric Whitacre, Lindsey Sterling, Olafur Arnalds, et al)


  8. Very interesting! I used to be massively teased for liking classical music when I was younger. My mum’s a concert pianist so I grew up with it (and Frank Zappa-legend). What’s really interesting is the progression of music. Not as stand alone genres but as a line of dominos. You listen to Debussy’s Le Soirée Dan’s Grenade and there are some key sounds that influenced jazz and subsequently a lot of popular music now. He was way ahead of his time. I wonder if there’s a difference to American and European culture (I saw you wrote dollar). We have a lot of legal busking spots on the tube and in public spaces, there’s the street piano movement, and you have the likes of Covent Garden’s piazza. There’s a lot of classic music being played in public space away from that dull, pretentious dross that so often gives Classical tunes a bad name. Anyway.. There’s my two pence! 🙂


  9. i like this post. i went back and read your last one, too. i think you make some really sound points.

    i view the plight of classical music as yet another facet of mass production posing problems for our society. cheap production is the easiest way to please a society that demands cheap goods, and that includes music. electronically produced pop hits using nothing but a synth board and a microphone cost very little to perform and produce. they also generate immense income. the cost of maintaining an orchestra and a space for that orchestra to play make classical music into the passed-over product it is today. in other words, music isn’t composed, performed, or sold for its staying power anymore. cheap thrills, then on to the next one.

    that being said, i love classical. two years ago, i made a promise to myself to listen to an hour of classical music everyday. and i honestly believe i have become a better person because of it.


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  11. I stand shoulder to shoulder with you that classical music should indeed financially support itself without the aid of tax payer dollars, just as pro-sports should not ask for financial help from the cities they are in to build a new stadium or PBS stand every year with its hand out to get the lions share of their broadcasting budget from the federal government. One level playing field for all!


  12. Ah, music! I enjoy most music. I like classical because some genius knew what every instrument would sound like in his/her brain as it was put to paper; and it can make me smile or weep. I like country because of its earthy humor. There will never be better rock than produced by Jimi Hendrix. I like Elton John and Moon River! Ha! Lately I’ve discovered Fado and love when Misia sings. Keep writing, Thomas…I love your posts.


  13. Honestly, this post was much better and more written than the last one. Your original post seemed to be more griping about taxes and theater constructs than anything.. 😛
    (Part of me really wants to rant about your comment about elitism…but since it was a rabbit trail I will let it alone!)
    Ok, I admit I am one of “those freaks” who listens to Beethoven every night before bed and plans to have his children raised to the sweet tunes of Mozart. In my opinion, the classical genre of music is one of those gems from history we will always cherish and love. The difference between Tim McGraw and Ludwig Beethoven is that 100 years from now McGraw’s music will be a dusty album in someone’s attic while Beethoven will continue to astound thousands.

    Your beef seems to be more with the “industry” than with the music itself. I am a promoter of private funding, and this area is no different. But if you want to start an educational debate on the genre, try studying up on the music theory rather than reading what opposing artists say about it. Again, just my opinion.


    1. Did I call people who listen to classical “freaks”? Those are your words not mine. Give me some credit. I made no judgment about classical music fans. And how can you claim that 100 years ago such music will be forgotten? We will still be listening to the Beatles and others. And as for Frank Zappa being an “opposing musician,” it’s not a football game. Zappa was a meticulous composer who no doubt drew inspiration from many places, I think he was just providing an honest opinion with that quote.


      1. No No No! *shudder* Not at all attempting to put words in your mouth. I called myself (and other’s like me) a “freak”. And 100 years from now is just a projected theory based on what we see today. Face it: the Beatles, Queen, Johnny Cash and other’s are legends of music and will stand the test of time because they appeal to anyone. McGraw appeals to a certain set of people during a certain time frame…therefore his music is partially bound to this time period. As for missed my point entirely. I was pointing out that you should look into the ground-breaking theories behind classical music–not just quote other musicians. If you just think “music is music, get with the times!”…. Then I’m wasting my time.

        All in all, thank you for stating your opinion. It would be boring if no one did.


  14. I can’t claim to be an expert, but I can claim to having spent over two thirds of my lifetime as a pianist. Classical music, in the strictest sense of the word, can’t exactly “evolve” — it is classical because it came from the Classical era, and seeing as those years are long gone, new compositions aren’t exactly readily available. Technically speaking, classical music, like classic novels, isn’t a specific genre, but is rather creative works that have survived the test of time.

    That being said, I think there is a lot of value to what you’re arguing. If the style of classical music is going to live on (by its own means), it needs to adapt to modern society — whether that be by taking modern music and adapting it to an orchestra, simply making concert tickets easier to get a hold of, or whatever.


  15. I don’t think you are wrong in saying that classical music was the pop music of the past. Classical music was originally only for aristocrats and the people who went to Church with aristocrats. The difference is that back then rich people were much more willing to throw large amounts of money at artists. Now we are told everyone needs to support classical music because we don’t know what is good for us. Which you are right, is unfair.

    The pop music of the past was the music sung in Inns and before the hearth, there was dance music and sad music, and love music. That was the pop music is pop means popular and popular means the opinion of the populous. Classical has always borne the stigma of elitism, now it either has to become really popular or find really rich people to patronize them again.


      1. Well, that is the skew of history, isn’t it? Aristocrats commissioned the art and the books etc. So I think you are correct, but, didn’t peasants attend Shakespeare? Could they have attended Mozart as well?


      2. I don’t know if the comparison holds for two reasons. First, theater, and now film and television, were always popular arts. From the Greek Theater to Breaking Bad. Music has always been popular, But there has always been a wider range of a music to appeal to different groups of men. Secondly, we have to take into account the towering genius of Shakespeare. He alone in English letters has so perfectly blended the popular and high arts. No one else could place Falstaff in the middle of a play about Henry V and yet loose neither the majesty of the crown nor the hilarity of the brothel. I guess what I mean that even if peasants could attend Mozart, I doubt they ever wanted to.


  16. Wanted to say first thank you so much for stopping by and following my blog! I found your discussion of classical music in this post very interesting. Personally I am ok with public money (my money) being spent on the arts as I feel that promoting/preserving culture is important to society as a whole. I do not agree with certain arts being favored for funding over other arts. If were going to publicly fund classical music I feel we should also publicly fund rock and roll, up and coming indie artists etc. I know these are generalized statements that do not take into account that there is some promotion/funding in this areas. But they get across my main point which is that I feel either we fund all the arts publicly or we don’t fund any. I don’t think a small percentage of the country/government should get to pick and choose which arts are promoted/preserved and which are not. On the other hand I also am not comfortable with the general public being in charge of promotion/preservation as that means important things that aren’t popular (i.e don’t have money spent on them) could be lost. All the arts are part of our culture and add depth and diversity to our lives and therefore are worthy of promotion/preservation. This post also makes me wonder 100 years from now will people be having similar discussions over today’s popular music?


    1. Thank you. Like you said, if we fund one style then shouldn’t we fund them all? I think there are enough wealthy patrons to privately support the arts they wish to preserve which they do for the most part. This new auditorium in Charleston is going to be nice, but it is using a large portion of public money to benefit what percentage of the population? That is pretty much the crux of my argument. Thanks for your comments.


  17. Great topic. I love seeing so much energy around the discussion. Art and music are subjective. They only hold value to the person experiencing it. As an art form that defined a generation, or many generations, I believe it deserves funding to preserve it just as museums hold artifacts from days gone by. Funding a museum doesn’t make a piece of history good or bad, it just holds onto it so we know where we come from and where to go from here. Keep challenging your readers. It’s good for us.

    Thanks for following, too.


  18. congratulations, fellow blogger! you have done what i hope to do; writing an opinion piece that can rouse the masses in devotion or contempt. bravo! classical music plays a formidable role in the making of music and interpretation. it should not evolve if it were to remain fundamentally and theoretically true to its identity and music category. it has, however, and credibly so, played small and big roles in help music and entertainment be what they are today. zappa’s music included. thanks again! keep up the good work.


  19. Well done you a most outstanding argument and one that there should be many schools of thought on. My taste in music is varied and the amount of classical I listen to is limited as like all types of music can be draining on the eardrums of too much listened to. We should all remember everyone has a right to an opinion and not judge on that basis


  20. From what you write, it doesn’t seem to me that you want classical music to die as much as you want it off public life support. That’s a valid point and you argued it well.


  21. Sadly, your opinion seems to be shared by many. My generation (admittedly…decades ago) was “exposed” to classical music as part of our school curriculum, and encouraged to explore the classics to find those (or the one) we liked best. For me, it was Mozart and Beethoven…and Sibelius, and Dvorak…and Rachmaninoff…and so on. I like classical music. That said, I realize that today’s listening audience prefers sound over melody and rhythm over composition. Given that choice, I submit the following list from The Piano Guys…because, while they do produce sound and rhythm in abundance, they still honor the classics!

    Just the Way You Are….Bruno Mars

    Rock Meets Rachmaninoff

    Michael Meets Mozart

    Beethoven’s 5 Secrets

    Moonlight…inspired by Beethoven

    “Bourne Vivaldi”


    The Cello Song (Bach is back with 7 more cellos)

    Rockelbel’s Canon (Pachelbel’s Canon in D)

    Adele – Rolling in the Deep


  22. What a large response you have had! I too, love classical music and can’t imagine life without it.
    but each to our own!!
    Thanks for following my blog, Barbara in Australia


  23. Did you ever get a chance to listen to some of the crossover classical?
    And in the third one, you get to see some classical crossed with modern music – with dance. Yes, she plays the violin while dancing.


  24. Great posts—both the original and Part Deux. The comments are a fun read! You state your points clearly and I agree with pretty much all of ’em.

    As a performing musician in both the rock and kids’ music genres (pleeeeeze don’t think Raffi, but maybe Dan Zanes…) I see first hand the effect of music on what I humbly submit to be the most important audience we have—our kids. My musical partner and I conduct songwriting residencies in elementary schools where we take some aspect of their current curriculum and spin it into a new song. The way the process engages the kids is spectacular, and it really helps them think about what they’ve learned and view it in a new way.

    What I’m leading up to here is a call for more public funding for the arts—particularly in schools—where arts programs of any kind are often sidelined or eliminated outright to make room for more standardized testing (yech!) I, like another who commented, see far more waste in the construction of sports stadiums than I do in new concert venues. But, I think money spent on exposing and educating our kids in the arts is extremely important.

    Oh, and thanks for following my photography blog!

    Cheers, John


  25. I must agree that the whole culture needs to find ways of keeping music of a high standard popular, understood and accessible. If there are modern musical genres which can exceed the musicality of the classics, then the classics must go the way of the Big Band or Charleston era. However, what should be resisted as strongly as possible is for music to relapse into the equivalent of having hamburgers for breakfast, lunch and dinner and forcing all the great chefs to go out of business.


    1. Ok, I get it. “Today’s music,” which I assume encompasses everything made in the last 50 years, is garbage and we need classical to save the culture from it’s ultimate demise. Why? Because most of us are too stupid to understand why it is so superior. This is exactly the opinion I argued against twice. You don’t agree which is fine. I don’t understand what you want me to say. I’m an idiot? I’m an asshole? Satisfied? Goodbye.


  26. If people heard classical music on every radio station and saw it performed in every bar, it would likely have a larger following. The “death” of classical music may be partially attributable to the fact that at least a generation or two have not been exposed to it given the demise of music education in the public schools.

    As far as “formulaic” goes, isn’t hip-hop formulaic? The blues? Just because a genre is repeatable doesn’t mean it deserves to die. And to repeat classical music as far as composition, one needs a thorough background in theory and an understanding of the instruments involved – a level of education far beyond what “composers” of popular music are likely to have.

    Listen to Barber’s Adagio for Strings, to Franck’s Violin Sonata, to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, Beethoven’s Ninth, Tchaikovsky’s Fifth or Sixth Symphonies…there are moments therein that you just can’t find in any other kind of music.

    I get what you’re saying. I just personally hope that sound you think hear is classical music crying out to be heard, not a death rattle.


  27. Dropping in late (thanks for the follow) and enjoying both posts AND discussion; I’m a semi-trained classical guitarist cum mountain dulcimer player with a fascination for everything from Celtic and Appalachian ballads, popular music from the 1900’s on, and the so-called “early” music of the 16th century and etc. I like just about anything with notes except rap and elevator crap. Regarding funding, it’s long known that the Europeans do way more to support the arts – in & out of the classroom- than we do and that, more than anything else, is why classical music – and quite frankly, the arts as a whole – are losing ground to what I’m calling “consumer arts”, i.e. quick, light, easily forgotten bits of fluff in whatever medium and form. If you don’t see or hear works with depth, you won’t have a chance to appreciate or ignore. And, when the accountants are in charge, we do tend to get more of the light stuff…

    Anyway, interesting read. Thanks for bringing up the questions…


  28. I think the government should apply matching funds to offer a basic education in classical music to children, and require classical music to be taught (but not require any given student to take the classes) in colleges that receive public funding. That’s all the help a musical genre should have. More funding communicates to composers and performers that they need not try very hard to find out what the people want, and to the public that classical music isn’t regular music but some sort of unpleasant self-improvement program. But less assistance would mean a risk that the knowledge of the genre would be lost and could not be revived for a generation that is interested, sometime in the future.


    1. I can’t say I understand your questions. Not everything valuable can survive in a free market system. And if something isn’t appealing, like music most people don’t like, then why should it be given life support? I guess we are too stupid to spend our own money on things we like, so we give it to the Gov’t so they can spent it on stuff we should like. That makes no sense.


      1. If the value of a thing is not exhausted by its free-market value, then it makes sense to me that an entity, such as a government, would sponser it. It is a good thing for the government to sponser the arts, which serve an important place in the life of a nation. This does not mean necessarily that a particular form (such as common-practice era music, which is typically what people mean when they say “classical”) of music should survive, but that arts themselves should be allowed to survive.

        Remember, it is not government that keeps classical music alive, but the people in charge of progamming at the various venues which are supported by public money. IMO, the problem is that they do not know how to be responsible both to artistic sensibility and the people they are serving… which is a point on which we seem to agree. We do not need to be “stuck” preserving some historical forms of art simply for the sake of preserving them. However, this does not mean that we need to abandon the quest of cultivation of beauty.

        It is not that we are too stupid, but that we lack the will and capability to sustain good, non-commercial things. For example, if national parks did not generate enough revenue to sustain themselves (I have no idea how much revenue they do create, but it does not matter), and if most of the people in the US did not like them, it would not mean that they should be destroyed and turned over to private and commercial use, because their existence would still be good.


      2. Yeah as long as you don’t get infringe upon the will of the people. That is how this country is supposed to work. Remember, it’s not the government’s money, it is the people’s. The government is supposed to represent the people. Whether or not that is happening now is certainly up for debate, just not on these pages.


  29. Well you listen to a LOT of music… Pachelbel’s Canon in D…I like any version. I love Adele’s beautiful voice. BECAUSE there is a lot of junk in any genre of music and some of breath taking beauty in any genre it does not make sense to rubbish anyone’s opinion. For sure you’re courageous to write your opinions like that. I guess not everyone knows what they are talking about.


  30. Whether you agree with Mr. Cochran or not, he has a point… AND it is just his opinion. This IS America right? We’re aloud to shoot our mouths off. I like classical music. A lot. But I can see why it is fading.

    Oh, and by the way I am NOT a fan of Meryl Streep, Mad Men or Game of Thrones… Cool, I just found a new booth post. Thank you Mr. Cochran.


  31. i think that such a belief in the free market as yours needs to be backed up with a set of nuanced corollaries about how ‘free’ and sustainable it really is. it’s fine to want a say in where your taxes go. but be honest about the machinations of economic flow – do retail dollars really match, dollar for dollar, precisely what people want?


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