Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How to Listen to Classical Music -- w/o baggage

Benjamin F. Carlson continues his excellent series of posts about appreciating classical music. Written in a no-nonsense manner, Carlson's goal is to introduce his fellow twentysomethings to the genre, in part by stripping away all of the perceptions about classical music that just get in the way.

How to Listen to Classical Music, and Enjoy It makes a number of good points, but there's one that really gets to the heart of what classical music on WTJU is all about (and something we think about all the time).

Carlson writes:
One of the first challenges is muzak. Stores play treacly strings as background music for shoppers. Many people have been led to associate the soft bowing of Mozart symphonies with soporific browsing. This is the antithesis of the intended effect. Audience members famously burst into violence at the premiere of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, as they did, in a more deadly way, at Altamont. Indeed, Stravinsky and Mozart are no more background noise than the Rolling Stones—or Django Reinhardt, Lauryn Hill, Animal Collective, or Kanye West. To enjoy any of them, you have to be engaged. 
That's why here at WTJU we often break the unwritten rules of classical programming for the radio. We'll play solo vocal works, complete multi-movement works, contemporary compositions, choral works, medieval and renaissance music, complete operas, and more -- because this is what classical music's all about.

No, some if it won't be appropriate for the dentist's waiting room, but that's not the point. There's more to ice cream than vanilla (or even chocolate). And there's more to classical music than Easy Listening.

Rock on, Mr. Carlson!

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