Taking Sides: Patrolling the Line Between Pop and Classical

Taking Sides: Patrolling the Line Between Pop and Classical

Music that melds diverse styles and “defies classification” is almost its own cliché these days. Yet no matter how many boundary-smashing genres we add to the ever-expanding list, the fence between pop and classical seems to be well patrolled and holding strong. Even for those who listen to and enjoy all kinds of music, that particular dividing line doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Why is that? With all the morphing and mutation that is happening in music, we asked two veterans of the music and culture scene—Philip Kennicott of the Washington Post and Steve Smith of Time Out New York—to weigh in on pros and cons of maintaining the dividing line.

Saying No to Yes

By Philip Kennicott

When I was a teenager, I didn’t have much use for popular culture and especially popular music. It didn’t speak to me and it didn’t offer any particularly useful clues to negotiating adolescence. I didn’t turn to music for rebellion (I got my rebellion elsewhere) because popular music didn’t seem particularly counter cultural. How can rebellion survive being mass marketed for a mass audience? If I needed to indulge teenage angst, there was always Brahms… read on


Kiss and Tell

By Steve Smith

Peter Criss taught me to love Haydn.

That remark deserves explanation, of course. To begin with, Peter Criss—neé Peter Crisscoula—was the original drummer for the loud, lewd and garishly painted rock band Kiss. And it was my adolescent discovery of that band that started my long, ongoing relationship with music. Not rock music, not classical music—music, period…read on


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