Where’s the classical?


(Illustration from the “Classical Music is Boring” website. Yes, there is such a thing, and it’s a hoot.)

Two of the least interesting topics on any blog are the blog and the blogger. So please pardon me as I write about both this time. I’ll return to my normal outward-looking blog next time.

Most of my readers, I suspect, know me best as a classical music presenter, both on the radio and in concert. To paraphrase the old Saturday Night Live sketch, classical music been berry, berry good to me. Then why are so many of the reviewed albums on this blog of the non-classical persuasion? Why all the pop, rock, indie, techno, etc., but so little classical?

It’s because at this present moment — and it could change — pop and its myriad sub-  and sub-sub-genres are where I find the most creativity, excitement and entertainment of any musical genre. They’re abuzz with talent, filled with surprises. I never know when I’m going to discover something new, from out of the blue, that knocks me out and becomes part of my life’s soundtrack.

To be sure, I can get the same buzz from other genres, including classical, especially classical of the freshly-composed persuasion. But at present, perhaps as a reaction to having wallowed in it for the better part of four decades, the vast majority of what parades around under the classical banner bores me. With many precious exceptions, I no longer feel excitement for the thousandth iteration of anything from the incredibly tiny slice of the repertoire included in the classical canon. Since I can’t feel the excitement, I won’t feign it, especially since I no longer draw a paycheck from presenting classical music. My blog is my hobby, and I can write about whatever pleases me. How liberating!

Does that make my radio career a sham? I don’t think so, because I never stopped getting a rush from presenting classical music to those who depended on it. But toward the end, I was troubled by how far my private enthusiasms and professional enthusiasms had diverged. And yes, I did increasingly have to feign excitement for the latest superstar rendition of, say, the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto or Beethoven’s Fifth. Not that I was ever tempted to go all “Network” on you, but if I’d hung around much longer, who knows.

None of the foregoing, let me stress, should be read as a criticism of your or anyone else’s listening habits. Your listening is your business, and don’t let nobody tell you you’re listening to the wrong stuff.

If on occasion, however, I review something you’d normally not pay attention to, something out of your comfort zone, and you were to give it a listen, that would be cool. You don’t have to like everything I like, of course, and vice versa. But there’s an amazing lot of really good music out there. And I still get a kick out of introducing some of it to you. The melody may have changed, but the missionary flame still burns. Happy reading, and happy listening!

Speaking of which, here’s the CD that’s taken up residency in my car stereo this week:

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