Pretending to like classical music?

September 3, 2008
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Many an inbox has found an e-mailed link to the website Stuffwhitepeoplelike.com over the last few years. 

I'm mentioning it here, though, because it's most recent entry--#108 if you are keeping score--takes an open shot at classical music, claiming among other things that it "has used white guilt to exist for over a century beyond its relevance."

Yes, it's satire. But satire, the best of it, is rooted in reality.

Is there a core truth here. Are many people, white or otherwise, who claim to like and/or appreciate classical music just faking it?

Even if you proudly admit enjoying it (needless to say, I'm among them), how much is enough classical music for you in a season?

Your thoughts?
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  • I love classical music! I have some on my PC here at work. It's something I need to be in the mood for, but I definately like it. My favorite is Baroque. Who can get a enough harpsichord? ;-) Seriously though, I love it and I love going to Symphony on the Prairie to hear it live.
  • Hah! I'm so out of it, I had never even heard of stuffwhitepeoplelike.com!

    So I'll be the first to admit that I know NOTHING about classical music.

    However, I do know that I like some of it. There have been pieces on the radio that moved me to tears and/or refreshed me at a molecular level. I can't tell you what they were called, though, because I came across them while flipping channels.

    The rare times that I go to a classical music concert, I sit on my hands so that I don't clap at the wrong time and earn dirty looks from the other patrons, but otherwise I usually enjoy the experience. If the music itself doesn't move me (and even if it does), I like watching the musicians and conductor do their thing. I agree with Firewoman: it's better live.

    When I have a free evening and feel like going out, my first choice is a tie between live theatre and live storyelling. My second choice is live dance. This doesn't leave a lot of time left over for live classical music, but I guess I do fit the white people profile: I wish I could go more often.

    Hope Baugh
    www.IndyTheatreHabit.com
  • While I can agree that there are plenty of people out there (not just white) that listen to classical music, or have a station programmed on their radio, simply for the value of perception by others, there are others people who still actually like classical music. Having said that, liking classical music certainly does not need to define a person!

    For those of us who have a true appreciation for music, good music can be appreciated in any form (even country...occasionally). I am the first to admit that my preference in music leans toward good old rock n roll, but it is hard to deny the strength and drama of Tychovsky's pieces or the skill it takes to play a Bach or Vivaldi number with perfection.

    I happen to be one of those people that others would assume is just faking it...but anyone who is actually listening to classical music in their car when they could be rocking out to Offspring or Weezer, with noone else the wiser, must truly appreciate the undulations and musicality of classical music! Even my teenage son will agree to listen to classical when in my car...classical music still has its supporters.
  • It takes alot of listening to classical music to become discerning. I have held a full season ticket for almost 10 years. I also go to Conner Prairie during the summer; but my radio plays old rock and roll. The people who go to the ISO downtown I feel truly enjoy the music and the experience. Not so much at Conner Prairie....that's where you will find the fakers. And nearly all the attendees are white.
  • I checked our stuffwhitepeoplelike.com and found a lot of interesting comments.
    One of comments said run as fast as you can away from people who want to
    play cd's like Classical Music for People Who Hate Classical Music and another
    made similar comments on people who ooh ahh over Josh Groban and Andreas
    Boccelli. Though classical music is obviously not for everyone anymore than
    any other genre of music has universal appeal, people who only hear these
    safe works repeated everywhere on cd and in concert will be justified in
    feeling Classical music is boring and one dimensional.
  • I am white, over 30, and will admit I do not like classical music. That being said, it's not just a white thing. It's also an age thing. You will rarely find someone in the 20's admitting they like classical music, and it's more rare the younger you go. Are we trying to fake sophistication as we get older? Is classical music seen as more sophisticated? More educated? Is it the musical equivalent of Shakespeare? Those who have read it and can identify it or quote it are somehow seen as impressive? I find it all pretentious and subjective.
    Now, I will admit something else. When my children are in the car, I prefer to play instrumental music (classical if I can't find my celtic CD). Not because I like it, but because I don't like to explain lyrics to my 5 year old.
  • T,

    To hear responses like yours makes me sad. You made huge generalizations that you can't back up. What comprehensive study of 20 year old's interests in music have you done?

    However some people HAVE made the classical music experience pretentious--I can sort of understand where you are coming from there. I don't believe though that the music itself is pretentious---it's the other stuff that comes along with it that is. It's the people that think it's wrong to wear jeans to the symphony, or who give you nasty looks when you clap in the wrong place and those who think they are hot stuff because they have season tickets that make it pretentious. Please remember that distinction.

    And T, please email me if you ever want to go to a classical music concert. I want you to open your eyes---and ears a bit more, because you just might be surprised. Maybe you heard a concert of Richard Strauss, and you didn't like it at all. Maybe Schubert is your man instead! Who knows. Either way, you are welcome to contact me at mahlerowesmetenbucks at hotmail dot com and I will do my best to get you some tickets to a classical concert!

    (pleae note this offer of tickets is for T only!) :-)
  • Wow! If I start complaining about other music will I get offers to more concerts?

    You're right, Chantal. I didn't do a study of 20 year olds. However, I did teach high school (I know high school students are not twenty....or shouldn't be) and can not remember any of students who listed classical music as their favorite genre, and got nothing but complaints when I'd play it during quiet time. I also remember being in college. I can't think of anyone in my dorms that played or liked classical. But then again, maybe I didn't know the 'right' people. I do think sometimes classical music is an 'acquired' taste. My husband keeps telling me beer is an acquired taste, too. I never understood why someone would want to 'acquire' a taste for something.
  • I love many forms of music. I truly love Classical because it is one of the few forms of music that can suit any mood. It is somber, joyous, depressing, uplifting, surprising, routine and more. Only a carefully woven tapestry of diverse musical instruments created by skilled/gifted composers can provoke such a wide array of emotions. I listen because I enjoy the music-not because someone may think about me differently. The same people who make assumptions based on musical preferences probably make many others based on clothing, type of car, jewelry, etc.
  • Why are people who understand Classical music pretentious and people who have knowledge of other forms of music fans? It is because someone has knowledge in an area unfamiliar to many so those people must be pretentious. That is tantamount to calling Einstein crazy because my level of understaning of Physics doesn't equal his.
  • Hi.... I am 14... from Malaysia.... I love Classical Music. I had influence from gaming experience, I find it beautiful through Schubert's Ave Maria. No one in my area loves classical music, which is why I'm so lonely and depressed... And I listen to Classical Music like.... the whole day? (Not during school time but when I am free of course) I find it very meaningful to me, I have many different perspective towards it. It's so unique, so genuinely musical, so emotionally true. I don't pretend to love it..... and I never actually knew that liking classical music is a good taste until today.... I would love to put some classics while my parents are driving... Maybe I should.... and no offense but.... I don't like modern music that much, out of the thousands of modern music,the odds are 1/1000. I just don't find it... musical I suppose? I am just telling you all that
  • Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. So... there is many different people out there... and I am certainly not trying to be different. I am very passionate in it and hope to succeed in the classical world, and compose more pieces relevant to Romantic period.... hmm.... I just find taste very mysterious... I want to know more about you people ^^

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