The classical music world is, for the most part, totally stuck-up. And it doesn’t look like anything is going to change the situation. For starters, these elitists can’t even admit that they have a problem: it’s called a superiority complex people. If only we had the resources to reach out to these unfortunate souls snared by the perfunctory trappings of contemporary classical music—see, even the term “contemporary classical” is oxymoronic. Pfft, oxymoronic, further evidence that these folks actually prefer multisyllabic words and confusing idioms. Reality check: Classical music is not inherently superior to all other genres of music.
Classical music’s canon is garnished with way too much esteem. Its self-important vibe completely overshadows its actual lack of substance. This year everyone is busy celebrating Mozart’s 250th birthday. C’mon, have you actually listened, I mean really listened to this stuff? It’s downright trite. It’s almost comical to think about the droves of tuxedos and gowns piling into concert halls everywhere for a little Eine kleine nachtmusik—uh, I mean Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major, Koechel 525. And the masses are expected to venerate this music and blindly worship it, no questions asked. Okay, while we’re at it, let’s make Lindsay Lohan the honorary president of Mensa.
Can all this exaltation be residual from the days when little Wolfie composed for kings and royal occasions? Music is often used as a status symbol, especially today, but even the cultural significance of the sounds that hip-hop once implied is fading fast. Eventually, the music is removed from its social context. People move on, except for those stubborn connoisseurs of classical music, all the while thinking they know better than everyone else. Get a clue.
Music, regardless of when it was written, is benign until listeners create a collective mythology for it. We know all too well the image “classical music lover” conjures in our collective unconscious. But when it comes to the bottom line, I just can’t buy into the idea that the music of Brain Ferneyhough is any more or less significant than the music of Justin Timberlake—who, by the way, sang “If I wrote you a symphony just to say how much you mean to me, what would you do?” Awe shucks, Justin. There’s no need to do that. That’s so 250 years ago. Maybe we’re all in need of a public service campaign aimed at undeifing classical music. Perhaps some day soon all music will be on a level playing field, where it belongs.