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TIL that at the premiere of Beethoven’s 9th, police had to break up the applause, as the amount he was receiving was considered inappropriate for a private citizen(r/todayilearned)
Well I think part of the reason we’re extremely quiet during live classical performances today is that when you interrupt classical music, you’re generally going to miss something great or important; when you interrupt, say, pretty much any band, all you’re missing are a couple chords you’ve already heard 4n times.
That said, as a long-time classical music lover and performer, I really hate the direction the upkeep of the genre has taken as a whole. If you go to the symphony or opera, 98% of the attendees are white people who are old enough to be on the cusp of death, and everyone’s always bickering about “this interpretation” versus “that interpretation” while generally having no idea what the fuck they’re talking about. It’s a culture of exclusivity, which really fucking sucks, because the fact that nobody’s interested in the genre any longer is completely understandable because of this.
Well, that and classical music is always presented piss-poorly, so people think it’s all this and this. And while those are great pieces of music, they’re not particularly good introductions into classical music as a whole, because they’re hackneyed by this point. Why not start people out on this or this (okay, the last one’s technically not classical, but still).
There’s a CD called Classical Music for People Who Hate Classical Music, and with a few exceptions, that’s exactly what it fucking is. If you hate what you think classical music is, you will hate most of what’s on that CD.
The listeners need to learn to do a little work, too. This is more complex music than pretty much anything being written today. You’re going to have to listen to shit more than once to really appreciate it. A lot of people don’t like to hear that because they idolize their favorite bands and have built them up to be musical geniuses, blah blah blah. I’m sure there are some really brilliant performers/writers out there, but I can’t name any since Zappa, Emerson/Lake/Palmer, and Wakeman, and those guys still don’t really hold a torch to the big-name classical composers.
Orchestras need to lose the fancy-ass dress code: have everyone show up in whatever the hell they want to wear. Playing piano in a tux is miserable; if it were acceptable, I’d wear my gym clothes to performances, frankly. They need to lose the ridiculously exclusive culture and offer a lot more modernism to wean people onto the genre. Start with film and video game scores, even, then work backward to the late Russians, then the Germans, then back from there.
tl;dr: Classical music is amazing but its presentation and the culture surrounding it are shit.
edit: I’m talking about America only. Apparently the culture surrounding classical music in a lot of other countries is very different.
edit 2: Several of you have asked for listening suggestions, so I thought I’d put up a link to my all-time favorite YouTube channel, that of user fyrexianoff. He uploads tons and tons of seldom-heard music by mostly unknown composers, and I’ve found some really great stuff in there.
One caveat: some of the stuff in his channel is kind of out there (like really ugly post-modern stuff that a lot of people don’t like), so you may have to do some clicking around to find some really good things. My favorite composers that I’ve found through this channel: Vladigerov, Kyurkchiyski, Gazizov, Christov, Stoyanov (lots of “ovs” in this list…)
A lot of those videos will have related links to similar, better-known composers. I’ve seriously lost hours just browsing around using fyrexianoff’s channel as a jumping-off point.
(ninja) edit 3: I want to thank you guys for all your suggestions — I’m finding tons of great new music that I was admittedly too closed-minded to seek out before. I’m pretty much giddy over trying to figure out what gets the honor of going on my MP3 player. As always, thanks for calling me out on my bullshit, too, reddit. This has been a great discussion.