At 65, your emotional response to music is just as it was at 19

At 65, your emotional response to music is just as it was at 19


norman lebrecht

January 13, 2014

A psychological survey at the University of Hildesheim confirms that musical taste changes as we age. At 19, we want it loud, zappy and in short bursts. At 65, we are more reflective. No surprise there.

But the listener’s reaction to music does not atrophy with age. The survey, of 470 people aged 19 to 85, finds the same intensity in advanced age as it does in blazing youth. That’s interesting.

Results here, with details of a forthcoming lecture.

abbey road oldies

image source here


  • In a less scientific environment, I’ve seen the intensity of reaction to music at ages 60 and up.

    I’ve just finished my first documentary film and the subject matter is a group of opera singers who have performed at various restaurants for over 50 years. The performers range in age from 19 to 92, and the audience range in age from 20s to 90s. What made me want to make the film is the fact that many members of the audience have been loyal followers of these singers for almost 50 years and they have a tremendous bond. Hearing these wonderful performances and seeing the audience alight with their joy in listening was a fantastic and inspiring experience. Apropos of our tastes in music changing as we mature, many of the interviewees — including singers — recalled their initial distaste for opera!