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Customer Discussions > Classical Music forum

Classical music and individuality, etc.


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Showing 1-25 of 54 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 5, 2012 7:35:53 AM PST
HB says:
Since the vast majority of people in the world do not really appreciate classical music, does that make us individualists, non-conformists or none of the above?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 8:13:04 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2012 8:13:19 AM PST
DavidRFoss says:
It might not be a very large number percentage-wise, but its a relatively tight-knit bunch.

I think it makes us a "niche market".

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 8:23:58 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2012 2:09:36 PM PST
John Ruggeri says:
HB

Love of CM puts in the same fach as lovers of Anchovies and Cactus Pears. If others do not have the Divine Love as I and CM is available to me I have no ANGST.

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 8:37:35 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2012 9:26:28 AM PST
Edgar Self says:
I'm more interested in the individuality of the performers and interpreters, and of the composers themselves, than mine,. with which I'm all too familiar. The last great age of the great individualists in performers seems to have been the last generation born in the 19th century, that produced Segovia, Landowska, Casals, Moiseiwitsch, Furtwaengler, Kempff, Lotte Lehmann, Melchior, Bjoerling, Muzio, Walter, Edwin Fischer, Cortot, Stokowski, Beecham, Hubermann and the like, along with many others of course. They are what I understand by individualism, and are some of the performers I like most to hear.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 8:58:34 AM PST
MacDoom says:
As true individualists, we would not want to be thought of as a group. Besides, within classical music, there are so many paths to follow that it does seem a bit too easy to make its fans into a one-size-fits all collection. Narrow it down (say: the group of Sibelius lovers) and you'll be sub-dividing that into symphonic, song, chamber, choir, and that into specific performances to love, to hate, to love to hate and so on until you get to groups containing just one person anyway.

But seriously, what point are you trying to make, or hoping the thread will make?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 9:00:55 AM PST
DavidRFoss says:
Edgar Self says:
The last great age of the great individualists in performers seems to have been the last generation born in the 19th century
------------------
This is the last generation of performers who didn't grow up listening to recordings. The performance styles of different regions (and individuals in those regions) were much more defined because it took a much larger degree of effort and hear other performers who had different training... it involved travel.

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 9:02:11 AM PST
I think that performers of today stand out as individuals representing the post-19th Century age in music, and that's a good thing, since that is where we are at this point in time. Our artists individuality can mostly be heard in clear contrast to the ones that Piso has mentioned and when they apply their aesthetics to the music of their own era, they are especially successful, just as the 19th Century artists were most successful in music of their time. In other words, our time is real, now and we sense how contemporary society requires art in how is learned, used, and appreciated. It is different than any other time and those who rise to the top are typically those individuals who function best in those parameters - people like Boulez, Abbado, Pollini, Argerich, Richter, Gould...

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 9:09:20 AM PST
Edgar Self says:
David Foss, a good point. Horowitz was asked once why he played a certain work so, and different from everyone else. "But I never heard anyone else play this music," he said. Unlike many of us, he did compare different recordings and performances, although he may have known them. Nowadays many students "learn" their pieces from recordings.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 9:10:47 AM PST
Edgar Self says:
Charles Whitehead, you also make a good point. But of the artists you named, Gould is the only one I can recognise as a distinct personality, although sometimes with him and others, such as Mustonen, individuality aproaches the lefel of a freak-show.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 9:23:48 AM PST
Edgar, I think it would be pretty easy to recognize Argerich, Pogorelich, Michelangeli or Richter in a blindfold test - they each have a distinct touch and approach to tempo and phrasing. So much of the string repertoire that violinists play is 19th Century and I agree that much playing of it today sounds anonymous by comparison with Huberman, Kreisler etc.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 9:52:35 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2012 9:54:07 AM PST
E. Dill says:
@MacDoom:

<<But seriously, what point are you trying to make, or hoping the thread will make? >>

I'm not sure what it is, but you've caught my interest so far. Why? Because you've talked about your musical preference without once sounding elitist or judgemental of other's tastes in music. (I know, I know...."give us time".)

I have had the misfortune to have accidently run into werranth on a pop board ("why do so many people hate Billy Joel") and we sparred a bit about her need to mock most popular music as intellectually inferior...yes, to even Billy Joel. I never quite got whether her even mention of Joel was considered, to her, slumming. She seemed to like him!

Since that encounter, we've found ourselves on a lot of other boards, not classical, and she's let me know that a 66 year old man who enjoys listening to "kid's music" has a lot of explaining to do.

Her point, if she truly has one, is that EVERYONE who wants to listen to and appreciate music of any kind (but hopefully classical music from the classical era) needs to be properly trained and that to suggest otherwise, like I did, is anti-education. She's also made it clear that to approach music only as a listening experience is childish. One needs history, critical assessments, the mathematics, the elements, etc. to properly appreciate music of any kind and, I suppose, if one did that, they'd gravitate to classical music.

Anyway, I won't bother you any further but I will periodically give a peak to see what else you're talking about. I'm not a big classical music fan and tend to prefer the baroque and romantic periods to the classical. I listen to symphonies by Beethoven and Mozart and find things in them I truly love. But only pieces and parts. I can't grab ahold of the entire work. Werranth would argue, I'm sure, that if I understood more about how the piece was constructed, I'd learn to appreciate it as a whole. I'm still bothered by the notion that intellectualizing about the complexity of a work's construct should affect my enjoyment of the sound.

I do better with jazz. And, recently, so called modern classical.

Sorry for the intrusion.

ed.

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 9:59:04 AM PST
Skaynan says:
"Since the vast majority of people in the world do not really appreciate classical music,"

The vast majority of people in the world hardly read books any more as well. Poetry? what Poetry? who reads it today? Art as in Painting or Sculpture? Nope, not that either...

I think CM can be included in this domain of "High Culture" that is not popular, but with a little asterisk: As mentioned elsewhere, the real famous stuff never lost it's familiarity: there's not a single person in the world who can't hum Beethoven's 5th fate motive, or Eine Kleine Nachtmuzik. Compare that to, for example, how many people in the world actually know (or care) who Othello is, or how many people will be shown a snapshot of Michelangelo's famous masterwork and say "it's David". CM fares a bit better in this regard then other arts from past centuries, coming to think of it.

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 10:10:25 AM PST
Dichterliebe says:
Everything has already been said. To say something profound in a manner that is new will now take an individual of the first rank.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 10:14:05 AM PST
KenOC says:
"Everything has already been said. To say something profound in a manner that is new will now take an individual of the first rank."

Quite so. Therefore, I will pose a similar but perhaps more easily answered question:

Are we superior people because we listen to superior music, or is the music superior because it is listened to by superior people?

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 10:32:53 AM PST
E. Dill says:
Oops.

Looks like I spoke too soon.

ed.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 10:45:51 AM PST
HB says:
"But seriously, what point are you trying to make, or hoping the thread will make?"

MacDoom,

My wife loves to watch the network morning news shows (Today, Good Morning America, etc.). They often bring in many mediocre pop groups and the audience goes crazy. Basically, the audience members are just following everybody else. They are conforming to the group action. In order to enjoy classical music, IMO, you have to have a certain amount of individuality. My question was pretty simple, is it individuality or non-comformism. I think it is individuality because non-conformism can often mean simply breaking rules to make a point, like refusing to pay taxes.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 11:29:36 AM PST
MacDoom says:
HB,

And yet... classical concerts have their audiences, who behave in precisely the correct and prescribed manner (know when and how loud to cough, applaud, shout 'bravo' at the soprano (sic)). If there is something like a collective IQ, there should be a formula to calculate it from individual IQs of audience members (something like: any group of people has a collective IQ half that of the member whose IQ is lowest). I do not believe that groups of CM enthusiast fare differently from a youthful pop audience.

Admittedly, that's only once people have turned into an audience. To get into CM, individuality certainly helps. CM lovers who are not will, most particularly in their youth, have a hard time of it (that was the voice of experience sounding). I'm a firm believer in peer pressure as a form of evil. Non-conformism goes a step further than individuality, I think. That's when someone who knows that CM is a good showcase for individuality goes over the top and finds the most obscure composer and performer to be adulatory about. Like: that Beethoven chap is all very well, but for real music you have to turn to Arriaga, but only as played by the Cape Verdian Symphony Orchestra under blahdiblah. Yawn.

People on this forum are posting while in the privacy of their homes, and are consequently only a token group. If group rules apply at all, then only mildly. It keeps discussions spicier than they'd ever be in the intermission of a concert.

And now I'm wondering what, if any, point I'm trying to make myself...

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 11:42:47 AM PST
MacDoom says:
Hi Ed,

Difficult to see how posting in a public forum can be an intrusion - feel free to stay! No-one's opinion is worth more than others' (though some would certainly disagree)! Some express theirs in a way that invites controversy, others try to be as balanced as they can. That's just different styles. Most posters have interesting things to say regardless of how they say it and regardless of whether you agree with them or not.

I've never had occasion to see werranth in the light you're describing. But I've hardly ever visited any non-CM forum on amazon, and some are reputedly quite contentious. Mind you, it can get pretty lively here sometimes, but there's never a need to join in hostilities if they occur.

As to music appreciation - anyone prescribing how others should enjoy music and which music that should be is seriously out of order in my book. On the other hand, opening up to advice on a forum like this will invite a stream of helpful (and, admittedly, some not to helpful) advice that can aid in crossing bridges that seemed uncrossable before. As an example, I've personally had loads of, I think, good advice on how to start on Bartók (a notoriously difficult one), and though the 'click' hasn't happened yet, I do feel I'm closer to it thanks to things others said.

It can be worthwhile. If you so choose!
Wouter

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 12:15:26 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2012 1:41:16 PM PST
RICK RIEKERT says:
KenOC says:
Are we superior people because we listen to superior music, or is the music superior because it is listened to by superior people?

Huberman's and Schnabel's recordings of Tchaikovsky and Beethoven were particular favorites of Hitler's. They, along with recordings of Wagner (of course), Bruckner, Mussorgsky, and Rachmaninoff were among the 100 or so recordings of classical music reportedly found in his bunker. Goebbels was also an avid fan of classical music. Stalin we're told was especially fond of Russian operas and ballets, including those by Tchaikovsky, Glinka, Borodin, and Rimsky- Korsokov.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 1:25:51 PM PST
Well, the joke was on Hitler - both Huberman and Schnabel were Polish Jews.

Bill

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 1:40:47 PM PST
Skaynan says:
It all brings up the agonizing question: Why are there so few women here? My wife loves CM, but admittedly I don't think she would have listened to it as much if she wasn't with me. And obviously she doesn't correspond here in the forum. She loves the music, but not enough to participate in discussions of this sort (or be interested by them).

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 2:20:39 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2012 2:21:07 PM PST
We tend to generalize our own experiences. With that caveat, I would posit that there are more de novo listeners of what we broadly call classical music than, say, 20 years ago. By 'de novo', I mean listeners who weren't immersed in CM as youth. I fit into that category. I always liked music, but I drew on the few examples of music I liked from pop music. I always preferred instrumental music to vocal music. Melismatic R&B, rap, modern country, and most other forms of popular music have always repelled me. I only truly felt comfortable once I introduced myself to classical. I did it just before the web became commonplace by buying Naxos CDs - 3 for $12 at the Exclusive Company in Madison, WI.

For 'de novo' listeners, I think the very act of listening to CM becomes a very individual pursuit - and is, therefore some kind of expression of who they are. It may be so, as well, for what one might call 'cultivated' listeners, but I only have my own experience to draw upon. I do remember mentioning the music I liked to certain people and having them show scorn for it from multiple sides. On the one hand, 'normal' people my age thought it was weird that I liked classical. Many 'cultivated' listeners I encountered thought my tastes were banal. It helped to refine my ability not to care what other people think, and for that, I am truly grateful.

Posted on Nov 9, 2012 9:07:33 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 9, 2012 9:09:17 AM PST
Palladin55 says:
OP says "Since the vast majority of people in the world do not really appreciate classical music, does that make us individualists, non-conformists or none of the above?"

It depends on how you define Classical music. Only composers that write for the concert hall or can you include film composers such as John Williams, Alex North, Erich Korngold, Bernard Herrmann, Elmer Bernstein, etc.? If so, I believe more people like classical music than you think.

Posted on Nov 9, 2012 12:17:37 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 9, 2012 12:20:28 PM PST
scarecrow says:
Loom, and Look around you, where's the individuality? It's a myth, now myths are important we all need them at some time;;read Lacan, , ,
;
well the pop,Rock world is obvious, there everyone likes the same product, Britney Spears,NSync, the Monkees, Lady Gaga, AC/DC, millions do the same thing over n'over everyday, day after day,put on those devil's horns at an AC/DC concert, they blick off n'on;where's the individuality there?
n' everyone buys the same music, the same boots, the same drugs, the same hats, the same makeup,the same condoms, So what's individual.?

everyone reads the same Bible. . .

In the classic world we are no better, the latest recording, or an old von Karajan, everyone likes, most that is; if its endorsed----- well then no sense arguing about it;, the media, the institutionalization of the classic world via the critics,the symphonies, the record labels, and the prizes,Pulitzers, Guggenheims---
All tell us what to like and what not to like, it's the system that gives value to us, no need to think too much. . . . now we have a Constitutional, Institutional freedom to reject all this, but why? and for what reason. . .? well the codification,commodification of classic music is a hard nut to crack. . .

It gives us comfort, myths,. . .endorsements, yeah defining classic is very difficult, like defining what is Art today;?I've given up, for I don't think it matters. . . I think now, we have what we like' that comes over time, and habits, this is a difficult subject;complex. . . . for want of a better concept or description, we have gradations of classic musical value, certainly we all value Mahler and Bruckner more, much more than Erich Korngold, or Egon Wellesz, or Hanns Eisler, or Rue Langaard. . . .
I find pleasure in looking at the score, the orchestration to Bizet;s "Carmen", or Ravel's "Valse Nobles, et Sentimentales" . . .

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2012 12:23:00 PM PST
Joe Anthony says:
HB says: "Since the vast majority of people in the world do not really appreciate classical music, does that make us individualists, non-conformists or none of the above?"

I say:

As a teenager, I was much more interested in classical music than the popular music of the time period which was the 1980s. Somewhere around the 1990s, I found myself with few friends and no romantic life at all; so I had a few sessions with a psychotherapist who told me that one of my problems was that I "failed to identify with a peer group."

In this regard, I do believe that there is such a thing as temperament; and I do believe that temperament has much to do with our tastes in music, movies, hobbies and so forth...

I've always preferred classical music to popular music; preferred individual sports such as hiking, bicycling, swimming and skiing to team sports such as baseball and football; preferred visits to art museums to night clubs; preferred the company of just a few friends or even one friend to wall-to-wall parties...and sometimes I enjoy being all by myself.

I do believe that I am something of a "loner" or "non-conformist". While I am politically liberal and have voted the straight Democratic party line in about every election; I am not officially a member of the Democratic party. While I identify myself as a Christian and have studied the New Testament in depth; I am reluctant to identify with any one denomination. While I am interested in my Italian heritage, I am reluctant to identify myself as anything other than "American", and generally, I'm against the idea of the so-called "hyphenated American".

While there are a great many people who seem to like snippets of classical music when they hear it; there are few who listen to a steady diet of it.

Classical music enjoyment takes some work. It takes a mind that is both creative and analytic; calculating and intuitive; it takes a person who is willing to have some patience and be willing to listen to something three or four times before it starts to make sense.
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
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Initial post:  Nov 5, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 11, 2012

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