Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

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THEHORN
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Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by THEHORN » Mon Jan 03, 2011 6:25 pm

Last week when Tavis Smiley was interviewing Gustavo Dudamel on PBS,he made a statement
describing classical music as "elitist". Of course,many people who are not knowledgable about classical music blindly accept this canard, and even some who are quite knowledgable about it.
How did this myth come about? If classical music were truly "elistist", why are orchestras and opera companies always trying to encourage more and more people to attend their performances?
Possibly the fact that many,buit not all "lo0ng hair" musicians wear tuxedos, gowns and sometimes white tie at performances, and many people associate classical music with wealthy snobs going for purely social reasons.
Or high ticket prices,even though many pop concerts also charge very high proces. I don't think that classical music is any more "elitist" than any other kind of music. Of course,the atmosphere at performance and audience behavior is quite different,but what is elitist about that? And what's wrong with musicians dressing formally? This looks snazzy and elegant,not elitist. Of course,some musicians have been calling for more informal attire at concerts,and some musicians have been wearin g their own attire at concerts,for example without black or white ties.
I don't object to alternative attire at concerts,but the whole issue of concert dress strikes me as a red herring.People don't go to concerts to see how the musccians are dressed,but to hear them perform great music. Back in the days of such legendary Jazz musicians as Duke Ellington,Cab Calloway and others,they tended to dress in quite elegant formal attire,and no one ever complained or called their concerts stuffy and elitist because of what they wore.
People like Greg Sandow are always compaining about such things and telling us that unless classical music "changes" and becomes more like popular cultiure,it is in danger of going the way of the dinosaur.
I don't buy this at all. Of course,Sandow means well, and he genuinely loves classical music and wants it not only to survive but flourish,as we all do. But I'm worried that his criticism of traditional concerts is giving people the wrong idea,and giving them the misleading impression that they shouldnm't be going to classical performances.
How can we go about debunking the pernicious idea that classical music is stuffy,boring and "eltitist"?
I try to do this at my blog The Horn at blogiversity.org whenever possible.

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:34 pm

No, you are right----Sandow is flat wrong.

What does he expect serious musicians to do?! Should they toss out all the atonal works of the last 100 years? Should they re-write Alban Berg and Hans Werner Henze so they sound like James Last and his orchestra?!

Art music can only maintain its unique position by not giving in to demands by lazy listeners who want the music unconditionally to come to them the way they want it; like great literature, classical music must be cultivated...not watered down to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Like all eternal art forms, the proof of true greatness is in its appeal to a minority.

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Wallingford » Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:51 pm

Having spent a good part of my life on the inside, as well as a very substantial share on the outside of the art/trade: YES, it IS elitist.
Good music is that which falls upon the ear with ease, and quits the memory with difficulty.
--Sir Thomas Beecham

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by piston » Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:09 pm

But it's an interesting question when considered in reference to some forms of jazz such as John Coltrane's. Only yesterday, guitarist John McLaughlin was referring to Coltrane's A Love Supreme as his life-long inspiration -- the most influential work of his artistic life. Yet, he admitted that the work in question was too complex for him when he first listened to it -- it passed way over his head.

Nobody would call Coltrane's music elitist, despite such complexity as A Love Supreme's.

There is a historical foundation to the notion that classical music once was elitist: it was primarily funded by the social elites during the Classical and Romantic periods, which social elites also represented the vast majority of the audience. The democratization of classical music is a relatively recent development. It's a multifaceted development involving relative access to education and to instruments by potentially gifted musicians, relative access to music halls by a much smaller middle class, and, well, a less elite-oriented repertoire.

Choral music was probably the first genre to experience such a democratization. They were tremendously popular throughout the UK during the Victorian Era and represent the first largest ensembles ever brought together in the USA when there only existed a couple of professional orchestras in the country.

In sum, classical music was very much elitist two centuries ago, became somewhat more popular during the Victorian Era, and fully democratized during the 20th century.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Donaldopato » Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:15 pm

The U.S. Right Wingers say it is. Thus they do not feel obligated to spend tax money on it.

(I edited this to make it more clear what I was ranting about!)
Last edited by Donaldopato on Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:19 am

piston wrote:Nobody would call Coltrane's music elitist, despite such complexity as A Love Supreme's.
Those who can figure out that Work have a right to be called Elitist, i've been trying for 25 years to like that particular piece of Music...one of my photographers worships Coltrane, so every six months or so I put it on for him, then I leave the Studio for 40 minutes... :wink:
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by John F » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:23 am

Wallingford wrote:Having spent a good part of my life on the inside, as well as a very substantial share on the outside of the art/trade: YES, it IS elitist.
Quite so - pretty much by definition. What classical music is not, is exclusive - anyone is welcome to enjoy it. But it's not for everybody and isn't meant to be. Let's face it, we at CMG are part of an elite!
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:23 am

John F wrote:
Wallingford wrote:Having spent a good part of my life on the inside, as well as a very substantial share on the outside of the art/trade: YES, it IS elitist.
Quite so - pretty much by definition. What classical music is not, is exclusive - anyone is welcome to enjoy it. But it's not for everybody and isn't meant to be. Let's face it, we at CMG are part of an elite!
Rather than be an elite, can't we just be lucky that we understand and enjoy it...
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Seán » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:17 am

Chalkperson wrote:
piston wrote:Nobody would call Coltrane's music elitist, despite such complexity as A Love Supreme's.
Those who can figure out that Work have a right to be called Elitist, i've been trying for 25 years to like that particular piece of Music...one of my photographers worships Coltrane, so every six months or so I put it on for him, then I leave the Studio for 40 minutes... :wink:
Coltrane is too heavy for you then Chalkie? :wink:
Seán

"To appreciate the greatness of the Masters is to keep faith in the greatness of humanity." - Wilhelm Furtwängler

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:18 am

"[A motet is] not intended for the vulgar who do not understand its finer points and derive no pleasure from hearing it: it is meant for educated people and those who look for refinement in art."

--Johannes de Grocheio, Ars Musicae, c. 1300

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Seán » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:24 am

piston wrote:But it's an interesting question when considered in reference to some forms of jazz such as John Coltrane's. Only yesterday, guitarist John McLaughlin was referring to Coltrane's A Love Supreme as his life-long inspiration -- the most influential work of his artistic life. Yet, he admitted that the work in question was too complex for him when he first listened to it -- it passed way over his head.

Nobody would call Coltrane's music elitist, despite such complexity as A Love Supreme's.
In this part of the world Coltrane's music would be considered elitist.

Classical Music does not render instant gratification to the listener and requires an attention span greater than three minutes and that is why Classical Music is considered - quite correctly - an elitist pursuit, it does not and never will have mass appeal, it requires effort.
Seán

"To appreciate the greatness of the Masters is to keep faith in the greatness of humanity." - Wilhelm Furtwängler

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Donaldopato » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:30 am

Seán wrote: Classical Music does not render instant gratification to the listener and requires an attention span greater than three minutes and that is why Classical Music is considered - quite correctly - an elitist pursuit, it does not and never will have mass appeal, it requires effort.
Well said, sir!
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. - Albert Einstein

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by piston » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:44 am

Seán wrote:
piston wrote:But it's an interesting question when considered in reference to some forms of jazz such as John Coltrane's. Only yesterday, guitarist John McLaughlin was referring to Coltrane's A Love Supreme as his life-long inspiration -- the most influential work of his artistic life. Yet, he admitted that the work in question was too complex for him when he first listened to it -- it passed way over his head.

Nobody would call Coltrane's music elitist, despite such complexity as A Love Supreme's.
In this part of the world Coltrane's music would be considered elitist.

Classical Music does not render instant gratification to the listener and requires an attention span greater than three minutes and that is why Classical Music is considered - quite correctly - an elitist pursuit, it does not and never will have mass appeal, it requires effort.
A question of perspective, no doubt, but Coltrane's music finds its deepest historical roots in the segregated residential areas (and Red Light districts) of urban America -- in the "underside," not the upperside, of society. That's why I don't think this question of elitism in classical music is fundamentally about requiring effort or discipline, as you state. I think it's about how different social groups were "socialized," meaning how they were brought up and what were their cultural identity markers. There's nothing difficult to understand about a lot of Mozart and Haydn and the very compositional symmetry of much of their work, based on a few themes with variations, is easily grasped. Pleasing music to the elite's ears, to be sure, but difficult music to grasp by the masses, I don't think so.

Hence the interesting paradox: classical music became structurally more complex, less obvious, as it was undergoing this process of democratization.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by John F » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:54 am

Chalkperson wrote:
John F wrote:
Wallingford wrote:Having spent a good part of my life on the inside, as well as a very substantial share on the outside of the art/trade: YES, it IS elitist.
Quite so - pretty much by definition. What classical music is not, is exclusive - anyone is welcome to enjoy it. But it's not for everybody and isn't meant to be. Let's face it, we at CMG are part of an elite!
Rather than be an elite, can't we just be lucky that we understand and enjoy it...
It's not either/or, it's both! :)
John Francis

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:37 am

John F wrote:What classical music is not, is exclusive - anyone is welcome to enjoy it.
If you want exclusive, try to get tickets to the Superbowl. :wink:

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by John F » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:02 am

jbuck919 wrote:
John F wrote:What classical music is not, is exclusive - anyone is welcome to enjoy it.
If you want exclusive, try to get tickets to the Superbowl. :wink:
Who needs tickets? Last year's Super Bowl was seen by 106 million people. If that's exclusive, then classical music is positively cliquish. :)
John Francis

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by maestrob » Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:53 pm

Elite means "for a select few." Well, SOME classical music was written for a select few, but there is some classical music (Verdi's operas, for ex.) that were written for and enjoyed by the general public (La donna e mobile anyone?).

That Verdi is now considered by some "for the elite" belies his popularity at the time of creation (Caruso became wealthy from phonograph sales as well as performance fees), and I would maintain that opera can be enjoyed still by a wide audience if they were exposed to it. Same with Mozart's piano concerti (remember Elvira Madigan?). Its presence in varied TV commercials reflects a wider appeal.

So yes, classical music rewards deeper exploration, but I think the journey begins with the many popular "classics."

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Wallingford » Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:40 pm

Seán wrote:
piston wrote:But it's an interesting question when considered in reference to some forms of jazz such as John Coltrane's. Only yesterday, guitarist John McLaughlin was referring to Coltrane's A Love Supreme as his life-long inspiration -- the most influential work of his artistic life. Yet, he admitted that the work in question was too complex for him when he first listened to it -- it passed way over his head.

Nobody would call Coltrane's music elitist, despite such complexity as A Love Supreme's.
In this part of the world Coltrane's music would be considered elitist.

Classical Music does not render instant gratification to the listener and requires an attention span greater than three minutes and that is why Classical Music is considered - quite correctly - an elitist pursuit, it does not and never will have mass appeal, it requires effort.
So, then, where does that leave (say) a Grieg Lyric Piece or a Brahms Intermezzo or a Scarlatti sonata or certain Bach toccatas or a good 60% of individual pieces Chopin wrote?
Good music is that which falls upon the ear with ease, and quits the memory with difficulty.
--Sir Thomas Beecham

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Wallingford » Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:55 pm

Not to mention a pretty healthy percentage of art songs.
Good music is that which falls upon the ear with ease, and quits the memory with difficulty.
--Sir Thomas Beecham

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Seán » Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Wallingford wrote:
Seán wrote:
piston wrote:But it's an interesting question when considered in reference to some forms of jazz such as John Coltrane's. Only yesterday, guitarist John McLaughlin was referring to Coltrane's A Love Supreme as his life-long inspiration -- the most influential work of his artistic life. Yet, he admitted that the work in question was too complex for him when he first listened to it -- it passed way over his head.

Nobody would call Coltrane's music elitist, despite such complexity as A Love Supreme's.
In this part of the world Coltrane's music would be considered elitist.

Classical Music does not render instant gratification to the listener and requires an attention span greater than three minutes and that is why Classical Music is considered - quite correctly - an elitist pursuit, it does not and never will have mass appeal, it requires effort.
So, then, where does that leave (say) a Grieg Lyric Piece or a Brahms Intermezzo or a Scarlatti sonata or certain Bach toccatas or a good 60% of individual pieces Chopin wrote?
Forgive me, perhaps I am being stupid but what's the question?
Seán

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Seán » Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:07 pm

piston wrote:
Seán wrote: Classical Music does not render instant gratification to the listener and requires an attention span greater than three minutes and that is why Classical Music is considered - quite correctly - an elitist pursuit, it does not and never will have mass appeal, it requires effort.
A question of perspective, no doubt, but Coltrane's music finds its deepest historical roots in the segregated residential areas (and Red Light districts) of urban America -- in the "underside," not the upperside, of society. That's why I don't think this question of elitism in classical music is fundamentally about requiring effort or discipline, as you state. I think it's about how different social groups were "socialized," meaning how they were brought up and what were their cultural identity markers. There's nothing difficult to understand about a lot of Mozart and Haydn and the very compositional symmetry of much of their work, based on a few themes with variations, is easily grasped. Pleasing music to the elite's ears, to be sure, but difficult music to grasp by the masses, I don't think so.

Hence the interesting paradox: classical music became structurally more complex, less obvious, as it was undergoing this process of democratization.
Were that the case the world would be awash with Classical Music lovers, but unfortunately it's not.
The music of both Haydn and Mozart requires far more effort than say a piece by Britney Spears, Madonna et al, hence the appeal of the afore mentioned ladies and the lack of interest in both Haydn and Mozart. Yes, the odd Mozart charming ditty will make its way into the consciousness of people as advertisement jingles or whatever but people are not interested because they do not want to sit, stand, walk or jog and listen to a piece of music that breaks the three minute barrier and cannot be sung-along-to after two or three hearings and disposed off entirely after less than a dozen.
That's my observation of life anyway perhaps other's here is entirely different. :wink: Perhaps you consider me a bit too cynical?
Seán

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Wallingford » Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:29 pm

Seán wrote:
Wallingford wrote:
Seán wrote:
piston wrote:But it's an interesting question when considered in reference to some forms of jazz such as John Coltrane's. Only yesterday, guitarist John McLaughlin was referring to Coltrane's A Love Supreme as his life-long inspiration -- the most influential work of his artistic life. Yet, he admitted that the work in question was too complex for him when he first listened to it -- it passed way over his head.

Nobody would call Coltrane's music elitist, despite such complexity as A Love Supreme's.
In this part of the world Coltrane's music would be considered elitist.

Classical Music does not render instant gratification to the listener and requires an attention span greater than three minutes and that is why Classical Music is considered - quite correctly - an elitist pursuit, it does not and never will have mass appeal, it requires effort.
So, then, where does that leave (say) a Grieg Lyric Piece or a Brahms Intermezzo or a Scarlatti sonata or certain Bach toccatas or a good 60% of individual pieces Chopin wrote?
Forgive me, perhaps I am being stupid but what's the question?
I suppose the real question is, are those pieces I mentioned geared to some sort of lower mentality or people with attention-span issues? Or if these pieces (as they often do) satiate someone's quick fix, does it automatically follow that these constitute inferior music?
Good music is that which falls upon the ear with ease, and quits the memory with difficulty.
--Sir Thomas Beecham

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Seán » Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:43 pm

Wallingford wrote:
Seán wrote:
Wallingford wrote:
Seán wrote:
piston wrote:But it's an interesting question when considered in reference to some forms of jazz such as John Coltrane's. Only yesterday, guitarist John McLaughlin was referring to Coltrane's A Love Supreme as his life-long inspiration -- the most influential work of his artistic life. Yet, he admitted that the work in question was too complex for him when he first listened to it -- it passed way over his head.

Nobody would call Coltrane's music elitist, despite such complexity as A Love Supreme's.
In this part of the world Coltrane's music would be considered elitist.

Classical Music does not render instant gratification to the listener and requires an attention span greater than three minutes and that is why Classical Music is considered - quite correctly - an elitist pursuit, it does not and never will have mass appeal, it requires effort.
So, then, where does that leave (say) a Grieg Lyric Piece or a Brahms Intermezzo or a Scarlatti sonata or certain Bach toccatas or a good 60% of individual pieces Chopin wrote?
Forgive me, perhaps I am being stupid but what's the question?
I suppose the real question is, are those pieces I mentioned geared to some sort of lower mentality or people with attention-span issues? Or if these pieces (as they often do) satiate someone's quick fix, does it automatically follow that these constitute inferior music?
No, not at all, I am not saying that people who listen to Classical Music have a higher mentality than those who don't, I certainly don't pretend to be of a higher order than most other people. I am different though in that I do not get any satisfaction at all from listening to the music that I've already described in fact I find it very irritating. I do have a deep passion for something that most peole are not bothered with and because it is to a large extent held in some regard then one might consider those of us who do have a passion for classical music as elitist in much the same way as I consider those who play and the watch the - horrible, sorry Fergus - game of rugby as elitist, it too, has a small coterie of passionate followers.
Seán

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by piston » Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:52 pm

At the same time, some of these distinctions between an elitist, i.e., more demanding classical music than popular music are the result of our own arbitrary distinctions -- where each one of us draws the line between classical and popular. How many here would not view Morricone and his work as classical music? Personally, I think he is a classical composer. But in writing popular film music he opted to reach out to a larger audience. His choice. Still classical, though, even though it's highly popular music.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by piston » Tue Jan 04, 2011 4:01 pm

Well over three million hits on this particular clip:
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Fergus » Tue Jan 04, 2011 4:58 pm

Seán wrote: Classical Music does not render instant gratification to the listener and requires an attention span greater than three minutes and that is why Classical Music is considered - quite correctly - an elitist pursuit, it does not and never will have mass appeal, it requires effort.
Very succinctly put my friend :wink:

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:04 pm

Wallingford wrote: So, then, where does that leave (say) a Grieg Lyric Piece or a Brahms Intermezzo or a Scarlatti sonata or certain Bach toccatas or a good 60% of individual pieces Chopin wrote?
You just had to put Grieg on that list, didn't you? :)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Fergus » Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:05 pm

Seán wrote: I do have a deep passion for something that most peole are not bothered with and because it is to a large extent held in some regard then one might consider those of us who do have a passion for classical music as elitist in much the same way as I consider those who play and the watch the - horrible, sorry Fergus - game of rugby as elitist, it too, has a small coterie of passionate followers.
Ah Rugby....one of the true Higher Art Forms :lol:

However, I do not think that the brethren on a cold and wet Winter's night in Cork, Limerick or Belfast would consider themselves as elitist :wink:

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:04 pm

Fergus wrote:
Seán wrote: I do have a deep passion for something that most peole are not bothered with and because it is to a large extent held in some regard then one might consider those of us who do have a passion for classical music as elitist in much the same way as I consider those who play and the watch the - horrible, sorry Fergus - game of rugby as elitist, it too, has a small coterie of passionate followers.
Ah Rugby....one of the true Higher Art Forms :lol:

However, I do not think that the brethren on a cold and wet Winter's night in Cork, Limerick or Belfast would consider themselves as elitist :wink:
Rugby League sucks, but, Rugby Union is one area that us Celts excel in, unlike England and France... :wink:
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:19 am

Fergus wrote:
Seán wrote: Classical Music does not render instant gratification to the listener and requires an attention span greater than three minutes and that is why Classical Music is considered - quite correctly - an elitist pursuit, it does not and never will have mass appeal, it requires effort.
Very succinctly put my friend :wink:
Yes, indeed! I am also not ashamed to say that life is too short IMHO to sit around listening even for ten minutes to electronic noise (rock/rap/heavy metal, etc.) that I DO NOT enjoy, just so I can be considered "open" to all music.

A young man once told me I was not broad-minded because I don't listen to pop-music. My reply was:

"You listen to all kinds of popular music from the last five years, while I listen to all art-music from the last five centuries." He had no reply to that!

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by lennygoran » Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:49 am

>the general public (La donna e mobile anyone?)<

Bravo, bravisimo! Regards, Len :)

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:40 am

Seán wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:
piston wrote:Nobody would call Coltrane's music elitist, despite such complexity as A Love Supreme's.
Those who can figure out that Work have a right to be called Elitist, i've been trying for 25 years to like that particular piece of Music...one of my photographers worships Coltrane, so every six months or so I put it on for him, then I leave the Studio for 40 minutes... :wink:
Coltrane is too heavy for you then Chalkie? :wink:
Some of it, yes, Live at Birdland, Love Supreme are, but others like the disc with Johnny Hartman are just wonderful, same goes with Art Pepper, Way Out West is a classic, Smack Up and Intensity less so...unfortunately I have never bee able to understand the popularity of Charlie Parker, as you can see, yet again my taste differs again from the norm, most people I know love Charlie Parker...I think that one other factor is that i'm not keen on a lot of HIM (Heroin Inspired Music)... :wink:
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:44 am

Jack Kelso wrote:
Fergus wrote:
Seán wrote: Classical Music does not render instant gratification to the listener and requires an attention span greater than three minutes and that is why Classical Music is considered - quite correctly - an elitist pursuit, it does not and never will have mass appeal, it requires effort.
Very succinctly put my friend :wink:
Yes, indeed! I am also not ashamed to say that life is too short IMHO to sit around listening even for ten minutes to electronic noise (rock/rap/heavy metal, etc.) that I DO NOT enjoy, just so I can be considered "open" to all music.

A young man once told me I was not broad-minded because I don't listen to pop-music. My reply was:

"You listen to all kinds of popular music from the last five years, while I listen to all art-music from the last five centuries." He had no reply to that!

Tschüß,
Jack
Also, Jack, you are from a different Generation, not that I mean that you are old merely that popular culture changes with each new generation, wide as my tastes are, I can't stand Rap or Hip Hop music...or BeBop for that matter...
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:38 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:
Fergus wrote:
Seán wrote: Classical Music does not render instant gratification to the listener and requires an attention span greater than three minutes and that is why Classical Music is considered - quite correctly - an elitist pursuit, it does not and never will have mass appeal, it requires effort.
Very succinctly put my friend :wink:
Yes, indeed! I am also not ashamed to say that life is too short IMHO to sit around listening even for ten minutes to electronic noise (rock/rap/heavy metal, etc.) that I DO NOT enjoy, just so I can be considered "open" to all music.

A young man once told me I was not broad-minded because I don't listen to pop-music. My reply was:

"You listen to all kinds of popular music from the last five years, while I listen to all art-music from the last five centuries." He had no reply to that!

Tschüß,
Jack
Also, Jack, you are from a different Generation, not that I mean that you are old merely that popular culture changes with each new generation, wide as my tastes are, I can't stand Rap or Hip Hop music...or BeBop for that matter...
My son Stephan is now thirty. When he was 17 he already disliked the stuff he enjoyed when he was 16. But he also likes classical (which remains constant).

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by HoustonDavid » Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:49 pm

I'm like you are Chalkie, my musical tastes are extremely eclectic, but they don't
include rap or hip hop. I do sincerely appreciate and love Charlie Parker, so there
we disagree. I agree with several posters who have said classical, or "art" music
takes more "learning" than popular music, but that doesn't make it elitist. A typical
rock concert (or any music concert) takes about the same time as an opera, so
attention span shouldn't even be an issue.

Those of us who love classical music and have made the stretch to come to an
understanding of it, would welcome a host of people of every stripe to join us and
bring classical music back to the wider popularity it deserves. It would certainly
increase the money so badly needed to fund our orchestras, pay our musicians, and
influence record sales. It once was and should be again, a populist music form, but
alongside the many other legitimate popular musical genres, not something "better"
or "elitist".
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by starrynight » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:22 pm

Jack Kelso wrote: Like all eternal art forms, the proof of true greatness is in its appeal to a minority.
That's a huge generalisation, and it seems to suggest a very small minority. Weren't Shakespeare's plays very popular at the time they were originally produced? In the Renaissance or earlier were sculpture and paintings readily accessible in public places like churches? Some things at times in the past may have been more exclusive but not necessarily because of the wish of the masses. And now in most places people have the ability to access art as well as they ever have.
Seán wrote: Classical Music does not render instant gratification to the listener and requires an attention span greater than three minutes and that is why Classical Music is considered - quite correctly - an elitist pursuit, it does not and never will have mass appeal, it requires effort.
Some popular music requires effort too, some here have indicated they haven't listened to some as they don't wish to make the effort. Some classical music doesn't require so much effort (as some have pointed out).
John F wrote:What classical music is not, is exclusive - anyone is welcome to enjoy it. But it's not for everybody and isn't meant to be.
Is ANY music created for everybody?

The real complexity now is that so many different types of music exist, which means there are many different audiences for different musics. Few things have truly mass appeal now because of that. It's hard to get a grasp on all of music, it would take huge effort to do that.

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Seán » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:36 pm

starrynight wrote:
Seán wrote: Classical Music does not render instant gratification to the listener and requires an attention span greater than three minutes and that is why Classical Music is considered - quite correctly - an elitist pursuit, it does not and never will have mass appeal, it requires effort.
Some popular music requires effort too, some here have indicated they haven't listened to some as they don't wish to make the effort.
To avoid it perhaps?
Some classical music doesn't require so much effort (as some have pointed out).
Perhaps, you are right. What examples would you suggest to support your point?
Seán

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Seán » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:41 pm

Jack Kelso wrote: A young man once told me I was not broad-minded because I don't listen to pop-music. My reply was:

"You listen to all kinds of popular music from the last five years, while I listen to all art-music from the last five centuries." He had no reply to that!

Tschüß,
Jack
Just the once? If I had a euro for every time that I've........ And yes I've had people tell me that they love ALL kinds of music and then when I enquire as to that it is that turns them on: invariably it's fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, ninties....sure ALL pop genres. :roll:
Seán

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Seán » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:45 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
Seán wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:
piston wrote:Nobody would call Coltrane's music elitist, despite such complexity as A Love Supreme's.
Those who can figure out that Work have a right to be called Elitist, i've been trying for 25 years to like that particular piece of Music...one of my photographers worships Coltrane, so every six months or so I put it on for him, then I leave the Studio for 40 minutes... :wink:
Coltrane is too heavy for you then Chalkie? :wink:
Some of it, yes, Live at Birdland, Love Supreme are, but others like the disc with Johnny Hartman are just wonderful, same goes with Art Pepper, Way Out West is a classic, Smack Up and Intensity less so...unfortunately I have never bee able to understand the popularity of Charlie Parker, as you can see, yet again my taste differs again from the norm, most people I know love Charlie Parker...I think that one other factor is that i'm not keen on a lot of HIM (Heroin Inspired Music)... :wink:
I understand where you are coming from on Parker, Coltrane and HIM. I am delighted that you like Rollins, what a wonderful musician he is. I can't turn my back on HIM or I woouldn't listen to fifties Jazz at all. :wink:
Chalkie, if you don't already have them I'd recommend that you try and get a copy of Miles Davis, Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain (this contains Rodrigo's Guitar Concerto), both are worth the time and money.
Seán

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by starrynight » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:39 pm

Seán wrote: To avoid it perhaps?
But some people might say the same for classical music, they just want to avoid it.
Seán wrote: Perhaps, you are right. What examples would you suggest to support your point?
As people have already suggested...songs and short piano pieces. Also dances.

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Seán » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:43 pm

starrynight wrote:
Seán wrote: To avoid it perhaps?
But some people might say the same for classical music, they just want to avoid it.
That's true, it's easily done. BUT, but, but classical music is not all pervasive: on the radio, tv, newpapers, supermarkets, everywhere, morning, noon and night.
Seán wrote: Perhaps, you are right. What examples would you suggest to support your point?
As people have already suggested...songs and short piano pieces. Also dances.
Can you be more specific?
Seán

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:13 am

For us, the one big "turn-off" for pop is its pervasiveness. Everywhere you go----shopping for food, eating out (even in a good restaurant!), watching t.v., visiting a beer-fest, etc.----there it is, and oftentimes way too loud!

If a person wishes to avoid classical music it's no problem; but no one can avoid hearing some kinds of pop unless they hold up in their house.

I once attended a piano recital in Heidelberg and the pianist was visibly irritated by the thump and drone of rock music coming from a nearby apartment in the same building. So maybe it's not just the pop-stuff itself---rather many of the folks who listen to it! Pull up to a red light at an intersection next to a convertible. What are the chances that the driver is playing a Mozart concerto or Bruckner symphony...?!

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Seán » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:55 am

Jack Kelso wrote:For us, the one big "turn-off" for pop is its pervasiveness. Everywhere you go----shopping for food, eating out (even in a good restaurant!), watching t.v., visiting a beer-fest, etc.----there it is, and oftentimes way too loud!

If a person wishes to avoid classical music it's no problem; but no one can avoid hearing some kinds of pop unless they hold up in their house.

I once attended a piano recital in Heidelberg and the pianist was visibly irritated by the thump and drone of rock music coming from a nearby apartment in the same building. So maybe it's not just the pop-stuff itself---rather many of the folks who listen to it! Pull up to a red light at an intersection next to a convertible. What are the chances that the driver is playing a Mozart concerto or Bruckner symphony...?!

Tschüß,
Jack
Jack, I agree with every single word you've written. I'm glad that I am not the only one here who feels this way.
Seán

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by diegobueno » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:09 am

It's not so simple to just say classical music is or isn't elitist. There are three possible elites involved:

1) The composers. Yes, classical music is elitist in that it venerates a canon of creators who have invested a great amount of time and effort in mastering their craft.

2) The performers. Yes, classical music is elitist in that it places great reverence on the mastering of highly exacting skills which only a dedicated few can hope to accomplish, and that only through many many hours of hard labor.*

3) The audience. No, classical music is not elitist. It's there for anyone to enjoy. It tends to appeal most to the more educated, but that's not a requirement. For groups 1 and 2, the only way to Carnegie Hall is "practice, practice, practice". For group 3, the way to Carnegie Hall is simply "buy a ticket".**

* My wording makes it sound like 2 is more difficult than 1, but no, that's just me warming up and getting more wordy as I go.

** For group 1, dying is also a helpful step for making it to Carnegie Hall. This is not a viable strategy for group 2.
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by HoustonDavid » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:20 am

As eclectic as I am, and appreciative of a fair cross-section of popular music,
I still don't understand those listeners who drive around blowing out their
eardrums (and mine) with music that literally rocks their vehicles. It seems
to be pure bass and rhythm instruments, so where's the music? :evil:
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by maestrob » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:22 am

** For group 1, dying is also a helpful step for making it to Carnegie Hall. This is not a viable strategy for group 2.
:roll: :lol:

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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by HoustonDavid » Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:06 pm

It may sound like some rockers are playing with chain saws and not guitars, but
the musicianship of people like Eric Clapton and Miles Davis to name just two
outside the classical milieu is certainly comparable to that of more classically
trained musicians....<running fast>
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by John F » Fri Jan 07, 2011 1:48 pm

Miles Davis was a classically trained musician, up to a point. At 18 he moved to New York and attended Juilliard. At some point, I'm not sure when, "Davis dropped out of Juilliard, after asking permission from his father. In his autobiography, Davis criticized the Juilliard classes for centering too much on the classical European and 'white' repertoire. However, he also acknowledged that Juilliard helped give him a grounding in music theory that would prove valuable in later years." (Wikipedia) And when I was in college, Davis's new LPs ("Echoes of Spain" and "Miles Davis at Carnegie Hall") featured music by Falla and Rodrigo, including an arrangement of the Concierto de Aranjuez's slow movement - not nearly as well known then as it would become - for trumpet and jazz ensemble.
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by HoustonDavid » Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:17 pm

Miles "Echoes of Spain" is an incredibly beautiful album, but it is jazz based, not
classical, although it certainly borrows heavily from classical and Spanish folk genres.
Miles, forever the experimenter who vowed to never repeat himself, was going through
one of my favorite periods of his music, where he worked with orchestral accompaniment
against his jazz interpretations. Many other musicians from all different genres have
done "crossover", going back at least to Charlie Parker in the jazz vain, who dueted with
Mitch Miller - a great classical oboist before his singalong days - with a small orchestra
playing arranged accompaniment in the background. An interesting experiment. :)
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Re: Why Do So Many People Think Classical Music Is Elitist?

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:45 pm

Seán wrote:Chalkie, if you don't already have them I'd recommend that you try and get a copy of Miles Davis, Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain (this contains Rodrigo's Guitar Concerto), both are worth the time and money.
I have those and the Gold, Audiophile, SACD and BluSpec Audio versions, and all Miles's Albums up to Bitches Brew, I love the Steamin, Cookin etc ones, the Quintets, I really love Some Day My Prince Will Come, but, my favourite is actually Tutu...
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