Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I Know You Think Classical Music is Crap, but Asia Doesn't

The idea that well educated people would have an understanding of classical music was in vogue before the 70's when the SAT stopped being an IQ test for white Americans. Today anyone who expected someone with a PhD to understand the difference between Bach and Beethoven would be living in cloud cuckoo land. Classical CD sales are less than one percent of overall sales (that's if
CDs still exist, mine are all on Icloud).
A few years ago I went to a violin competition for elementary school children. Every child was Asian-American. Many of the best classical musicians now come out of Asia. The only discussions about classical music I've had in the last few years have been with Chinese doctoral candidates with whom I was having language exchanges
My daughter, who is in every way the most wonderful person I know, hates classical music, and it was always on at home as she was growing up.
China wasn't always involved in classical music. There's a great movie in which a dentist's son is sent to live in the mountains during the cultural revolution. At first the peasants try to destroy his violin until he plays for them a piece he calls "Mozart's Ode to Chairman Mao."
At one point I heard the "Yellow River Symphony," that was allegedly written by the orchestra.
If Mao couldn't have absolute obedience, he set out to destroy China and his vehicle was the Cultural Revolution. But even madness eventually passes away, and China began to warm to Schumann and Vivaldi.
If you have any interest in learning about classical music, here are some suggestions:
Beethoven's 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th Symphonies.
Brahms First Symphony, the Double Concerto, and his Variations on a Theme by Haydn
Schubert's Fiorellen (Trout) Quintet
Bach's Anna Katerina Notebook
Vivaldi's Four Seasons played on a koto and sakuhachi in a a Japanese recording
Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto
Good luck, but don't worry, you can just discourse on where the word "heavy metal," came from and how the Who changed the world.

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