Experiences with Classical Music

by qkalantary

As any music 30 student knows, classical music is not the type of stuff that your roommate tells you to turn up. Actually, appreciation of the classical genre seems to be a very strange concept. It is both a niche category of recreational music and yet a vital part of everyday cultural literacy and music that people play. For example, of my old high school friends only one listened to classic music every day for pleasure (as opposed to playing it for band). He spent his listening time in the car because it relaxed him so he could avoid the ever-present Maryland speed traps. Since telling people that I am taking this class, few have asked about specific pieces or inquired about the content of the course—to most, classical music is far out of the mainstream music scene and elitist or obscure; however, once i started playing the music to my family (all pretty much musically illiterate) they all recognized at least a few of the tunes. Identifying Beethoven’s 5th symphony is something that I feel most members of our society would be able to do with ease. Classical music is easily recognizable yet often neglected.

It is clear that some music has become so engrained in our culture that its fame is unmistakable. Classic music is no exception—though it may not be mainstream in terms of recreational listening, many play it for fun (because it is the most technically challenging pieces for that instrument) and most can identify certain pieces that have withstood the test of time. In the Nabucco program, there was an interview with director and set designer Thaddeus Strassberger in which he claims that opera is not elitist in the slightest. In fact, it is less expensive than most sporting events. He goes on to disparage the way that schools focus their attention (and funds) towards sports instead of the arts. It is interesting that my opinion of classical music has changed throughout this course. Just becoming familiar with different pieces I find myself appreciating the music more. It was hard not to hum “La Ci Darem La Mano” to myself as I walked to class after studying Don Giovanni. I think it is not farfetched to say that if people took the time to actually listen closely to classical music they might find 1000 years of “new” music to appreciate.