In his praise for The Guardian for covering the balls, it was disappointing to see Colin Bradbury use the old-fashioned distinction that classical music is ‘real’ music as opposed to popular music (Letters, August 31). That was the point of view when I was in school in the ’60s, when a teacher told us,’ What you’re listening to is rubbish. Its good. Listen to him. “What self-respecting teenager wouldn’t revolt at such an order? It damaged my outlook on classical music for many years.
Today’s most enlightened teacher embraces all kinds of music, and teens can often find their way through pop music to classics. I made sure that the music in the car on our family vacation mixed the Beatles and Human League with Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, and I was thrilled when my 12 year old daughter asked to listen to “this lovely piece of music you played the last time we drove through this forest. Beethoven, Mahler and Sibelius are frequent companions in my car these days, as are Del Shannon, Walter Trout and Dua Lipa. It’s all music , Mr. Bradbury.
While I admire Colin Bradbury as a musician and agree with him on the Guardian’s neglect of classical music, his defense of real music, echoing that of real ale, is unlikely to succeed. to appeal to many readers. The diversity of production that we normally include under the classical umbrella emerged from the music of the Christian church, which had uniquely codified music by ancient notation. The further development of notation allowed the music to evolve into a kaleidoscope of expressive forms. Many centuries of evolution and divergence have brought us a vast body of music, reflecting our complex history and expressing countless cultural identities. It is also a false equivalence for Nigel Turner (Letters, September 1) to claim that it is another genre alongside ska, pop, samba, bhangra or R&B. Sadly, music journalism seems to regularly reinforce this crude categorization.
Perhaps it was a mistake to describe classical music as real music rather than using Nicola Benedetti’s description as “long” music, because it distracts the reader from the real point, that of its negligence by the newspapers. Classical music is not only “favored by the European ruling classes” as Nigel Turner put it, but loved by many people of all classes and ages. And in addition, all atmospheres are found in classical music, including “fun”.
The Proms’ mandate is to explore what might be called Western art music of the past 400 years. It does so superbly and with more than a nod to music from other genres and cultures. There are festivals devoted to jazz, rock, pop and folk. As far as I know they don’t include classical music. Its good. I don’t understand why other standards should be applied to Proms. Classical music is not fancy. Ballroom concerts are not fancy. The Proms give anyone access to the best classical musicians for around £ 7. Fifty years ago, as a working class boy, ballroom concerts opened up a world of cheap and wonderful music. Everything is fine, he will continue to do this for anyone with an open mind and ears to hear.
Who could disagree with Colin Bradbury when he says that artistic coverage of classical music, or real music, is secondary to that of pop music. This can often be proven by comparing obituaries. Upon David Bowie’s death, the Guardian’s tributes lasted for several pages. However, Pierre Boulez, a dominant figure in post-war classical music who died the same week, received much less attention.
While I agree with Nigel Turner that it is incorrect to claim that Western classical music is real music as opposed to other forms, what she can claim is to be able to achieve feelings. and human imagination in a very different way from other musical forms. It can be enjoyed by any class of people, as I have always seen in my long career as a classical musician and teacher.
I was amused to hear from Nigel Turner that Western classical music is the preferred form of the “European ruling classes”. I’m afraid that in my 33 years with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, I haven’t met many of them at our concerts. They were generally much more comfortable at pop music festivals. I think if he tried to join the prommers one day (and not just the last night) he might not only appreciate the real thing, but discover that there is a lot more fun in a Haydn symphony than in a pop song.