For me it's a question. What's wrong with western classical music?
I need a bit of guidance here. I've been confronted with this statement and have been asking this question for a few months now. Anyone related to South Africa will know the dire state of orchestras there at the moment - it seems like just as one is perfectly reasonable and entitled to take over a white dude's farm as it was stolen from your ancestors some time in the past, it's even more acceptable to plunder the coffers of orchestras because the money is better spent in enriching people personally than on spending on the perpetuation of a cultural oppression, as evil, if not worse than apartheid etc. Then there is also a valid point of spending on perpetuating the works of dead white men at the cost of live other people. Even my daughter, much as she loves classical music and listens to the "story of classical music" over and over again, but, is apt to wryly comment that it's the "story of lots of western white men and two women"
What about the rest of the world? A brief survey of my two youngsters revealed that neither of them had heard any classical music in their music classes recently, and when voting on what to play in their band, were the sole supporters of something from Beethoven, as opposed to anything else by anyone else that was jazzier and snazzier and didn't have the "classical" (even if Beethoven was romantic) label on it. A recent discussion on "world" vs "classical" music led me to believe that the latter was held in a certain amount of contempt not to mention disgust by certain segments of the community.
Of course, the world she is a changin' is there any place and what is the place. This is a rather thoughtful interview on the impact of our time and it's digital reality on music. And it's not all gloom and doom.
6 years ago, the NY Times said Classical music was not dead - at least not in the USA, and many of their arguments still hold true. The City Journal writes a fascinating article here, arguing that at the moment we in fact live in a "golden age" of classical music compared to the past . Then there is the question of etiquette. Raised both in the City Journal and in this article about the rise in Classical music in China. Music is powerful, it can change lives (literally it seems in China) "The Cultural Revolution gave rise to a hunger for music. When it ended, people were “so thirsty to suck everything in,” said Yu Long, one of China’s most energetic conductors and musical entrepreneurs.
"'More profoundly, classical music executives say that the art form is being increasingly marginalized in a sea of popular culture and new media. Fewer young American listeners find their way to classical music, largely because of the lack of the music education that was widespread in public schools two generations ago. As a result many orchestras and opera houses struggle to fill halls. "
Should we try to fill halls and opera houses? Does classical music have any merit on its own, stand alone basis? Does it need to be introduced and coddled and be given to children through indoctrination at school at a tender age or else it has no chance of survival? Is the teaching of classical music oppressive?
Some of it is Malcolm's fault = you know that 10,000 hours thing. Let's not even mention Tiger Mum, Amy. Do I believe in the 10,000 hour thing - well, yes, in the abstract. But in reality I believe that anyone playing any instrument in any genre just needs to practice consistently and continually enough in order to make slow and steady progress and not to fell the need to give up on themselves, the instrument or the genre.
How many people hate classical music because they were "made" to play it and "made" to practice? But by people who didn't understand how to do so to make progress?
Is Miles Davis correct that it's "dead shit" and is this what is being told to our kids? An interesting review in the economist of the book "Who needs Classical Music" by Julian Johnson. Perhaps I need to read this in order to better articulate my heartfelt feelings that we do need it and that there is nothing wrong with it, nothing to be ashamed of.
What do you think? Am I ridiculous? Why do I feel the need to defend and say it's ok?
In the mean time, here's something awesome and beautiful to watch.