I feel like a traitor to my class writing this.
In principle, I have to feel obliged to applaud the efforts of classical radio stations to bring new listeners to our classical musical heritage. To a certain extent, I even support the effort to promote “classicized” versions of popularized contemporary music. I can easily imagine younger listeners, hearing “Diamond Music” and similar soundtrack scores on FM, saying “if this is classical music, I want to find out more about it.”
Like any other fad, it can be overdone. In the 1960’s, Percy Faith, the Hollyridge Strings, and similar pop orchestras turned timeless standbys and light classical into schmaltz. I actually still have those old LP’s somewhere, but I haven’t played them in 30 years. I’m still sick of them.
But it gets worse. I’m sick of Haydn and Mozart. They are easy for beginners to follow and like, so they get aired too much for my tastes.
If you’re a musician and want to take an old popular tune and “set it to music” (a la Baroque Beatle Songbook, also from the 1960’s), it helps if you can be Yo-Yo Ma or Itzhak Perlman.
Right now I’m listening to a traditional favorite Dolce De Coco, played by Yo Yo Ma, Paquito D’ Rivera, and Romero Lumbambo. I didn’t know the song before, but I love it now.
The moral of my story: if you’re going to popularize classical music, do it right.
Oh, yeah: what was this crack about “a traitor to my class” supposed to mean? I love classical music, but I’m untrained, don’t play an instrument or read sheet music, am largely self-taught, and I didn’t even like the Brandenburg Concertos until I was over 40.
In a nutshell, I’m no more qualified to promulgate musical pronouncements than younger listeners who are just discovering classical music. Like them, I know what I like. Unlike them, I’ve the pleasure of expanding my own musical horizons for decades longer.
Listen to what you like, but seek out more of what you like the best.
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