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CLASSICAL  March 2005

CLASSICAL March 2005

Subject:

Re: Crumbs From The NPR Table

From:

Scott Peterson <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 28 Feb 2005 22:19:44 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (90 lines)

Deryk Barker didst write:

>Isn't it strange that the whole "world music" movement seems to have elevated
>every *other* form of music above what we might loosely call western classical
>music.

That would indeed be strange.  I've never seen even the slightest evidence
of it, however.

>WCM is a unique artform IMHO and deserves to be celebrated.

Assuming WCM stands for Western Classical Music, I agree whole-heartedly.

>Nobody is EVER going to convince me that Britneyt Spears is deserving of
>mention in the same brath (on the same planet?) as Beethoven.

Of the thousands of posts I've read on this list, including dozens of
outstanding contributions from Deryk, this may be the single silliest
one I've ever encountered.

First of all, who in this discussion attempted to convince you or anyone
else of such a thing?  You're setting up a straw man for your own purposes
by proclaiming an argument no one has proposed.

Furthermore, the statement is not so much elitist as simply close-minded.
After all, by tweaking the statement slightly so it reads "nobody is
EVER going to convince me that Stravinsky is deserving of mention in
the same breath [I assume that's the word Deryk actually meant to use]
as Beethoven" would not be looked at askance by many reasonable and
well-informed classical music fans.  It's likely Saint-Saens, for example,
would have agreed with that statement.  But Saint-Saens, at least,
listened to Stravinsky.

Would several close listenings to Britney Spears reward the listener
with a new-found respect? I may personally doubt it, but never having
actually done so myself, I'm not prepared to say so definitively.  I'm
fully confident, however, were I to have encountered "Strange Fruit" by
Billie Holiday or "Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra or "Love Me Do"
by the Beatles or even Eine kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart once or twice
as I was shopping in a grocery store, with no previous knowledge of the
music or the artists, I would have not considered any of them Great Music
or worthy of much further listening and certainly not of comparison to
Beethoven.

Writing off ANY artist after the most cursory of tries is close-minded.
I have no problem, personally, deciding that any given artist, pop or
otherwise, isn't worth my time--there're only so many hours in the day,
after all.  And I don't like Schoenberg's "Pierre Lunaire," for example.
But having only listened to it once, I'm not going to hold it up as an
example of "bad music," no matter how little I enjoyed it.  Were I to
have spent hours, listening and re-listening to various versions and
able to provide a reasonable argument of why it's a substandard piece,
perhaps I would do so.  I don't know, but I cannot, so I shall not.

Finally, the parenthetical statement in the sentence:

>Nobody is EVER going to convince me that Britneyt Spears is deserving of
>mention in the same brath (on the same planet?) as Beethoven.

This is so over-the-top as to be not just silly but offensive.  On the
same planet?!  That level of vitriol should be saved for those reprehensible
creatures who truly deserve it: Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot.  I hardly think
any pop singer deserves that kind of utter disdain, simply because her
music is perhaps vapid.  It's like having a squirrel in your backyard
that's annoying you because it's been eating from your bird feeder, so
you blow it to pieces with an AK-47 and then roast its remains with
napalm.  A little perspective is called for here.

Not to mention that the deification of Beethoven that parenthetical
suggests is rather misplaced: Ludwig was simply a man, and not an
outstandingly great one at that; nor was he a terrifically flawed one,
for that matter, at least according to the biographies I've read.  He
was just a man, a human being, who happened to create an extraordinary
number of the greatest works of art ever.

I suspect many will believe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill here.
But I've read dozens, maybe hundreds of posts on this list over the past
eight years lamenting the decline in popularity of classical music.  So
opening denigrating, sneering at, the tastes of others is not likely to
sway any of those people to your point of view, regardless of the
superiority of your tastes.  A well-reasoned argument often convinces
people.  Not always, but often.  Simple condescension NEVER does.  If
you really want more people to like classical music, don't be a complete
snob about other musics.  It's self-defeating and does nothing to further
your cause, no matter how righteous it may be.

Best,

Scott Peterson
[log in to unmask]

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