Saturday, April 19, 2014
Ottorino Respighi wrote the Symphonic Poem, The Pines of Rome in 1924. This is part of a "trilogy" of Roman poems along with the Fountains of Rome and Roman Festivals. I recently wrote about certain works and performances that lend themselves to climactic moments when the hair on the back of your neck stands up and your spirit soars with the power and emotion of the piece. This is one such piece. The last 5 1/2 minutes are stunning. Have a listen. This is a very good performance that is available on YouTube.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
I spend a lot of time thinking about ways to increase the popularity of classical music in today's world. As I said in one of my earliest posts, it's a fact that very few Americans listen to classical music. Period. And historically, classical music sales are a tiny fraction of the overall pie. Those of us who love classical music have tried to understand and explain this for generations now. What I find to be the most fulfilling and joyous of all musical forms is unknown or unappreciated by most people. I hear most experts and music educators say education is the way to expand the understanding and appreciation of classical music. But they have been saying that forever, and it has not changed a thing. I have made up my mind: loving classical music does NOT require any specific education ....it's not ABOUT education. In some ways, I think this school of thought hurts classical music. Saying you need "education" to enjoy something makes it seem out of reach....exclusive.....cut off. Sadly, classical music has earned this label, at least here in America where many feel it is for the rich....for "snobs". And face it, many of the traditions of classical music put it in this box. (Performance tuxedos are a good example).
Back in February 2014, America celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' performance on the Ed Sullivan show....the beginning of Beatlemania....a revolution in music, style and popular culture. When those 4 young men (or "lads" as they were called) took the stage and played, no one needed any education to love what they heard and have their minds blown. What they were seeing and hearing changed everything! And it just happened.....no explanation, preparation, nor education....just BAM. Pure. Simple. Fun. Amazing. I discovered the Beatles 14 years after that night (also covered in my first blog entry). And for me in 1978, the result was the same.The Beatles blew my mind. BUT, I experienced the SAME profound moment the very first time I heard Vivaldi's Four Seasons....and Beethoven's 5th Symphony....and Bruckner's 8th Symphony, and Mahler's 5th Symphony, and Strauss' Death and Transfiguration, and Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik......etc, etc, etc......they all blew my mind. And education had nothing to do with it. I heard it....and I loved it. WHY? I suppose that's the mystery. A Schubert Piano Sonata or "I Wanna Hold Your Hand"? They are both great in my mind.
Maybe the challenge is to get classical music in our ears without having to look for it. I don't see much, if any, classical music on live TV...or any TV for that matter. (It's there....but you do have to search for it). Please don't tell me I am an education hater! I am not saying education is not important, valuable, fantastic......none of that. I love education. Just like the motto of Faber College in Animal House...."Knowledge is Good".
But classical music can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone, education or not.