Weaponising classical music against the underclasses

Weaponising classical music against the underclasses


norman lebrecht

May 18, 2018

Ted Gioia has written a thoughtful piece in the LA Review of Books about the growing tendency to play classical music in public places as a deterrent to anti-social elements.

AT THE CORNER of 8th and Market in San Francisco, by a shuttered subway escalator outside a Burger King, an unusual soundtrack plays. A beige speaker, mounted atop a tall window, blasts Baroque harpsichord at deafening volumes. The music never stops. Night and day, Bach, Mozart, and Vivaldi rain down from Burger King rooftops onto empty streets.

Empty streets, however, are the target audience for this concert. The playlist has been selected to repel sidewalk listeners — specifically, the mid-Market homeless who once congregated outside the restaurant doors that served as a neighborhood hub for the indigent. Outside the BART escalator, an encampment of grocery carts, sleeping bags, and plastic tarmacs had evolved into a sidewalk shantytown attracting throngs of squatters and street denizens. “There used to be a mob that would hang out there,” remarked local resident David Allen, “and now there may be just one or two people.” When I passed the corner, the only sign of life I found was a trembling woman crouched on the pavement, head in hand, as classical harpsichord besieged her ears.…..

Weaponized classical music is just the next step in the commodification of the genre. Today, most young people encounter classical music not as a popular art form but as a class signifier, a set of tropes in a larger system of encoded communication that commercial enterprises have exploited to remap our societal associations with orchestral sound. Decades of cultural conditioning have trained the public to identify the symphony as sonic shorthand for social status — and, by extension, exclusion from that status. The average American does not recognize the opening chords of The Four Seasons as the sound of spring but the sound of snobbery. On screen, Baroque is the background music for Old Money, High Society, and condescension. In essence, its music is not meant to be appreciated, but associated — and those associations are overwhelmingly elitist.

Read on here.


  • John Borstlap says:

    I have ny recording of Solti’s Ring ready for any burglar who dares to cross our treshold.

    • JOHN NEMARIC says:

      I just had a very bad idea: play Vivaldi non stop and once in a while some Georgy Ligety just to further confuse the confused. And, if they are not already confused, they will be shortly.

    • Sidney Roughdiamond says:

      Nah you don’t want to attract them mate. Eine kleine nacht music or Boccherini’s minuet is best for keeping the yahoos away!

    • Jack says:

      I’d like to have several pieces of yours to play at our local 7/11

      (You must be pissed that Sir Georg never recognized your genius.)

      • John Borstlap says:

        Even famous conductors are only human….. a fact we all have to accept. Also, he was too old and I too young. But I have to admit, he did his best.

  • Adrienne says:

    Little mention of the role that inverted snobbery plays in this.

  • Doug says:

    I suppose you enjoy stepping over piles of human excrement and puddles if urine, not to mention the heroin addicts sleeping on the floor at your place of work?

  • Cubs Fan says:

    Harpsichord? Lordy, that would drive me away, too. But it could be worse: Slim Whitman.

  • william osborne says:

    Here we see how Americans discuss symptoms but not causes, since discussing causes would challenge the system and be considered too subversive. It’s screamingly obvious that with a private funding system, classical music will inevitably be associated with, to use his own words, “elitism,” “Old Money,” and “high society.” But he notably says absolutely nothing about that. American plutocracy is not to be questioned. And even more ironically, his poet brother Dana was chair of the NEA from 2003 to 2009, and like all in that position, filled the usual function a simply being an impotent place marker, a poet who dared not state plain truths.

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      So, where are San Francisco’s publicly-funded classical music institutions? Nothing whatsoever is stopping them from setting them up.

      San Francisco, by the way, is a city without a single Republican in its city council, a city of the most pristine progressivism. So it’s not likely to be the kulaks, wreckers and shadowy “secret powers” usually trotted out.

      And all the Bay Area plutocrats are Left-wing tech barons. As we know, the worst income inequality occurs in the most progressive places.

      • Caravaggio says:

        “And all the Bay Area plutocrats are Left-wing tech barons. As we know, the worst income inequality occurs in the most progressive places.”

        This much is true and not just on the West Coast but in all major blue cities regardless of location. It is hard to wrap one’s mind around the irony and hipocrisy in this. If so called liberals don’t begin addressing and confronting the problem head on, and soon, they are toast politically. But it appears that the only thing that matters to this segment of the US electorate is not-in-my-backyard-ism and remaining drunk at the bash of their ever rising home equity values. All else from them is nothing but lip service. The rest of the population has noticed.

        • william osborne says:

          By the standards of most of the developed world, there is no political leftwing in America. We have a relatively far right (Republicans,) and a moderate right (Democrats.) In the EU, for example, Bernie Sanders would be a centrist, and yet in the USA he is something of a radical who occasionally speaks about the systemic problems that almost all politicians leave unaddressed. This makes him the object of great suspicion.

          Anwyay, we see these quaint and provincial ideas that tech barons and the like are members of the left, as if a left even existed in the USA.

          • Greg Hlatky says:

            Considering Bernie “Three House” Sanders attracts the kind of supporters who, literally, want my kind dead, it says little either for the EU or any desire to see it emulated here in the US.

    • David says:

      Actually, William, Dana Gioia was outstanding at the NEA—saved it basically single-handedly from complete annihilation at the hands of congressional Republicans in the wake of the 90s culture wars. (In full disclosure, I am acquainted with him personally—not very intimately, but still—which does bias me somewhat, I imagine; but to hear him talk about his time at the NEA is to gain a much greater appreciation for the staggering mix of indifference and outright antipathy toward the arts that exists at the highest levels of our government). Also, once again, I think you are completely right about the need for much stronger public support for the arts—-BUT you are absolutely wrong to make it entirely an issue of funding and not at all about social class and classism. (Unrelatedly: why does Sanders insist on calling himself a socialist? He’s a social democrat if he’s anything, a Keynesian through and through, and his unusual branding just confuses matters unnecessarily . . .)

      • william osborne says:

        Good thoughts, David. The point I was trying to make is that the Director of the NEA is so constrained, and can function only within such limited parameters, that they are rendered all but powerless. Yes, Dana did a fantastic job within those parameters, but that translates into have very little overall effect. He’s not to blame.

        The problem is that after Roosevelt the political left in the USA was systematically destroyed through the Truman Loyalty Acts, HUAC, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, and other long-term factors. In this purged political climate, the NEA and other such socially oriented programs, are crippled. The NEA thus became a place-marker that functions as an alibi the USA can present to the world, an appearance of supporting the arts, when in reality its budget is infintessimal and its influecne all but non-existent relative to the corresponding arts agencies in all other developed countries.

      • william osborne says:

        The term socialism encompasses many different types of government, some radical, some moderate: social democaracy, communism, market communism, religious socialism, Christian Socialism, Green Anarchism, Moaism, etc. Here in Europe, social democrats refer to themselves as socialists. When Sanders refers to himself as a socialist, he is using an accepted meaning of the term.

        Euorope’s social democracy, and China’s market socialism have become the two most common forms of socialism.

        In the USA, there has been a long-term effort to tarnish politically unacceptible terms like socialism. After Reagan’s efforts, even the term “liberal” has been discredited. I notice that the left is thus increasingly using the term “progressives” to define themselves.

    • Mark J Henriksen says:

      The stats are out there for philanthropic giving: 39% to religion (the highest) as opposed to 6% to the arts (next to the lowest). Religious groups value to poor, the meek, and the sinful (last time I checked) and are totally privately funded; not very elitist. So, if classical music is perceived as elitist, it isn’t because of its funding.

      • william osborne says:

        That’s not true. Private funding can take many different forms, and be manifested in many different ways. One need only see the patrician rituals at the performances of our major opera houses and orchestras to see why the arts associated with elitism, Old Money, and High Society.

        These traditions stem back to feudalism’s system of arts patronage. The UK continued its feudalistic class system more than any other European country. The USA was thus deeply influenced by this sensibility.

        In continental Europe, with its public funding systems, and far less emphasis on class, these patrician rituals are far less visible at concerts.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          W.Osbourne writes: “The UK continued its feudalistic class system more than any other European country”

          Err…no it did not. While there is no law abolishing feudalism in England, it had effectively disappeared by 1450 or earlier. Other countries retained extensive feudal rights and class privileges (e.g. exercise of lordship over peasants, tax advantages, legal advantages etc) into the 18th, 19th and even early 20th century, which required their violent overthrow. In England there was nothing to overthrow or abolish. The English established equality before the law and equality of taxation, as well as parliamentary oversight of both taxation and legislation back in the medieval period. Don’t let the odd aristocratic title (which have no feudal rights attached) confuse you about these essential facts.

  • The View from America says:

    Speaking personally, I would like to eat my Burger King Whopper® in peace — Igor Kipnis and Mahan Esfahani be damned!

    • lwriter says:

      To utilize art as a punitive weapon is disgraceful. Music needs to be spread as a tign of beauty to listeners of all classes as Bernstein did through his ground breaking television programs.

  • RCkoala says:

    This is not “weaponizing classical music.”
    Look up some articles about music in psychological warfare and you’ll find yourself truly horrified: non-stop blasting of tunes like Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made for Walkin'”, the Sesame Street Theme, the Barney “I Love You” song, Van Halen’s “Panama”, “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” by Drowning Pool, “The Real Slim Shady”, “The Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson, and the Meow Mix song.
    Classical music elevates everything.
    As long as they aren’t playing Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (don’t look it up on YouTube, consider yourself warned), this is not weaponized classical music.

    • David says:

      Try not to be such a literalist. Just replace “weaponise” with “exploit for deeply classist purposes” and acknowledge what an utter travesty it is.

  • Ravi Narasimhan says:

    “When I passed the corner, the only sign of life I found was a trembling woman crouched on the pavement, head in hand, as classical harpsichord besieged her ears”

    That is a powerful sentence.

    “After all, there are only so many times a melody can be used to harass the homeless, embellish a cannibal’s cookery, or promote the dignity of dog food before we forget it could also glorify the dignity of humanity.”

    Judging by the rest of the comments, that time has come and gone.

  • Rodders1954 says:

    People of all backgrounds need to come to terms with what I call ‘proper’ music as individuals (most people identify it as ‘classical’ and it’s their problem if they find this music elitist) . However, I understand why proper music is rejected by the majority – it is because ‘clasical’ music requires everything from us as human beings. – there’s no compromise and even then we may fall asleep. Just listening isn’t enough and requires time and work on our part in order to ‘grasp its fruits’. In the mean time I think we can only achieve this if there is enough of it played in schools as music lessons and it is incorporated into the curriculum on a par with Maths and English – sorry !

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Er…how offensive. I spent a lot of time just listening. I don’t spend “time and work in order to ‘grasp its fruits’”. The idea is just bizarre. Just relax and enjoy it, you don’t need to study music or read the score, or even to read or play an instrument. And there is lots of different pieces such that if you don’t like one piece then you will likely find something else you like. Frankly, it is attitudes like yours which cause people to avoid classical music.

      • RCKoala says:

        Saxon, while I agree with you that “just listening” is quite enjoyable to the ear in the same sense that “just looking at” art may be enjoyable to the eye, there is much more enjoyment to be drawn from classical music the more knowledge the listener has.

      • David says:

        There is no right way of listening to classical music or any music. Certainly I am not always looking to be “challenged” every time I turn on the stereo. But one definition of great art is that it rewards close engagement: the more you give, the more you get.

  • David Cay Johnston says:

    What a difference a single upper case letter makes:

    “the mid-Market homeless” phrase had me momentarily wondering what new category this referred to, not the location along the main street of the city where I was born.

  • David says:

    I am frankly appalled at the general level of flippancy and denialism about the obvious truth that classical music has increasingly been positioned as an elite commodity. Although I disagree with his analysis, at least William Osborne acknowledges that there’s a problem here—one that very few people in this comments section seem willing even to consider: that we have allowed classical music to be co-opted as a symbol of class difference. Statements such as “Classical music elevates everything” fail utterly to comprehend the fact that music and art of all kinds do not exist in a vacuum! There is no such thing as a “neutral” string of pitches that is just “inherently” great: the very way we hear and see is shaped by our social histories and class formations. Do you suppose that the average low-income, under-educated and over-worked laborer is somehow supposed to know instinctively, intuitively, how to appreciate classical music? “Let them hear classical music” is approaching the tone-deafness of “let them eat cake.”

    • RCKoala says:

      David, grow up.

      • David says:

        Thank you for your thoughtful, considered response. Your condescension puts my argument to shame.

        • RCKoala says:

          David, your pedestrian knowledge of sociology doesn’t impress me or anyone else.
          You wanna impress me? Prove Euler’s identity with advanced calculus, write an Android program that approximates the Fourier Transform generically, hell, name a single piece of classical music that you are familiar with and talk about why you enjoy it.
          Anything else is just basement dwelling liberal progressive trolling by a desperate virgin.
          Talk about “tone-deaf”…

          • David says:

            Lol, you don’t need advanced calculus to prove Euler’s formula. Just let z = cos(t) + i sin(t), then observe that dz = i z dt and integrate to get ln(z) = i t, from which it immediately follows that e^(i*t) = cos(t) + i*sin(t).

            Also, I have a job and a graduate degree in biophysics—neither of which is the least bit relevant to what I wrote and you ignored.

    • Grüffalo says:

      David, your argument is approaching the tone-deafness of tone-deafness.

    • John Borstlap says:

      These are perfectly legitimate concerns. Classical music is, by its nature, NOT a social signifyer. Where it has become a mere symbol of social distinction, that is a sorry state of affairs. But it has been the result of education and accessibility: when public music life developed in the 19th century, it was inevitable that concerts had to be run as a business, even when patronaged. This excluded ‘the poor’. Also education was something one had to pay for, with the same result. Music life simply was an affair of the middle and upper classes, for sheer material reasons: halls had to be hired or kept up, players had to be paid, etc.

      There are many stories of ‘the poor’ flocking to the music stand at the local park to hear some ‘classical music’, arranged for wind band, or people saving what they could to acquire a ticket for a standing place at the opera. Ony in Italy it was a more ‘folky’ business – but performance standards appear not to have been very high, everything had to be done on the cheap. With the gradual increase of state funding in Europe (the continent, that is), classical music became more accessible with the ironic result that political leftwing resentment began to paint the art form as a weapon of social warfare, something that had to be debunked. The increasing professionalism of concert practice has turned the art form into an expensive high quality commerce, giving even more food for attacks.

      But the music was never consciously written for exclusive audiences and with the thought of excluding ‘the poor’, it was entirely normal that artists in the past worked under patronage by church or nobility, since there never was any other outlet. (Wagner had the ideal of having the entire community attending his operas for free, as in the Greek plays of antiquity, which was impossible to realise in his days.)

      But how to solve this problem? Offering high-level concerts entirely for free, i.e. completely paid for by the state, by tax money, will enrage the people who don’t give a damn about culture and would pay their month’s salary for attending a soccer match. Also, it would make the art form entirely dependent upon political programs, and when they change, subsidies are easily and thoughtlessly cut, as can be seen in Holland where subsidies for the arts have been drastically and indiscriminately reduced. The other problem of state subsidies is that the entire musical field becomes politicized, with power struggles infecting the entire system. (In European music life, the ‘business’ is infested with people without any musical abilities or insights but on which concert practice is entirely dependent, because of its organisational / management layer of structural functioning.)

  • RCKoala says:

    Cute, but not accurate to prove the integral over the continuum is equal to the square root of pi…you have to square both sides, invoke a change of variables, and understand that the continuum on the unit circle is 0 to 2pi…
    But for the sake of argument, I’ll let it slide as a professional mathematician with an advanced degree in mathematics because I said “identity” and not “equation.”
    So why the liberal progressive ideology and why against classical music?

    • David says:

      Why would you assume that I’m “against classical music”? I love classical music more than life itself! (Why would I be reading this blog otherwise?) I have a poster of Bach above my bed and a framed LP of Klemperer’s Deutsches Requiem in my office. It just pains me to see that lots of people will never have the opportunity to experience this music except as a shorthand for wealth and status in some bank commercial. For the good of the art form I want anyone to be able to claim Bach and Beethoven as part of their musical heritage. Otherwise, I can see the writing on the wall: in a few generations, classic music and classic music-lovers, already a dying breed, will be extinct. This isn’t about “ideology” for me, RCKOALA, it’s something much more real and urgent. I’m just disturbed that hardly anyone here seems to be taking it seriously. There is nothing at all “inherently” elite or elitist about classical music. It’s all about perception, and people today have been made to perceive classical music as an affectation, an irrelevancy. That bothers me. Does it bother you?

      • David says:

        *my phone keeps changing “classical” to “classic,” apologies

        (Also, for the record, I got an A+ in topology in my undergraduate days, at the time regarded as a tough class; let’s say that I get that e^it defines a group homomorphism from R to S1.)

        • RCKoala says:

          Glory be to one-point compactification.
          Suffice it to say that it bothers me that classical music listeners are dwindling, but for the same reason that mathematicians are dwindling: both present a challenge to the mind in a world that doesn’t have the patience or attention span for a challenge to the mind.

          • John Borstlap says:

            Ironically, many of the very products of the most challenging ingenuity now turn the minds of many people into lazy sloughs.

      • John Borstlap says:

        This is indeed an urgent problem – there have been stories all along about the art form ‘dying’ but it has never been clearer than today that it is indeed now under threat.

        One of the initiatives that try to do something about it, is the think tank Future Symphony Institute in Baltimore, hoping to offer ideas for the ‘business’ to survive in modern times: http://www.futuresymphony.org

        We don’t know for sure that it is not merely a matter of perspective; given the nature of modern times, people must first get older and wiser – much older and much wiser – to take some distance from the silly froth and discover the necessities of interiority which classical music offers, hence audiences appearing to be much older than in former times. And this may not be a sign that audiences will die out but simply that there are many more older people nowadays (thanks to these same modern times), and the trajectory of getting there has become longer. In other words, it may become a typical art form for the elderly who have understood life better, and where they are dying, younger people become older at the other end, filling the gaps.

        • David says:

          An interesting perspective, but it seems clear to me that the diminishing relevance of classical music to large sectors of the population is not only due to the modern assault on interiority, though I’m sure that’s part of it. If you polled the retirement-age attendees (most of them) at a typical concert to ask when they first fell in love with the music, I expect hardly any would say “only recently.” In America especially, increasing numbers of younger listeners are being alienated from classical music by the perception that “it’s not for them” before ever even engaging with it meaningfully. Its “weaponization,” to use Gioia’s phrase, as a marker of wealth and elite status has had this effect, as has the dramatic deterioration in the quality and availability of music education in public schools.

          • John Borstlap says:

            Yes, also all of that, and the different factors in play may differ per nation. I think the main threat is the idiocy of an utopian world view which wants to cancel the past as much as possible, as if humanity could cut its roots and fly to the horizon of an entirely technologically- and commercially-determined society – which is childish and dangerous. More technology to accomodate ever stupidier people, until all that makes people human, has evaporated.

  • SVM says:

    A fascinating analysis, although there are two issues to which the article only alludes:

    1. it is not just classical music that is appropriated for advertising, deterrence, &c., and the devaluing — or, to quote the article, “death by quotation” — of music is a problem applicable to many genres: in short, being subjected to hearing music involuntarily is pervasive (see Maxwell Davies’s ISM keynote speech, which argues that the very nature of some types of pop music is designed to encourage mindless consumption &c.);

    2. what really irks me about this practice is that the classical music is played through low-quality speakers and at an inappropriate volume — I would argue that such broadcasting amounts to “derogatory treatment” of the recording, and the relevant performers ought to have a case to sue on the basis that their moral rights have been infringed; again, to quote from the Maxwell Davies keynote: “The unthinking use of amplification in many kinds of music turns what should be an intimate and sensitive experience into a soul and ear-numbing imitation of a Hitlerian or Stalinist rally, with all sensibilities subsumed in blather and beat.”.

  • John Borstlap says:

    It seems to me that the most important passage in the article concerned, is:

    “[B]usiness and government leaders,” Lily Hirsch observes in Music in American Crime Prevention and Punishment, “are seizing on classical music not as a positive moralizing force, but as a marker of space.” In a strange mutation, classical music devolves from a “universal language of mankind” reminding all people of their common humanity into a sonic border fence protecting privileged areas from common crowds, telling the plebes in auditory code that “you’re not welcome here.”

  • John Borstlap says:

    “Experiments have demonstrated that birds usually refrain from entering regions where they hear recorded birdsong playing.”

    One begins to think entirely differently about the music of Messiaen.

  • Sharon Beth Long says:

    I am so ambivalent about this issue. Yeah, classical music may help clear out the “riff raff” by making them feel uncomfortable by making the area too elite for them or making them feel in some way that the place where classical music is played is not their space.

    However, people will only shop and invest in places that they feel comfortable and safe. If “clearing out the “riff raff” improves the economy of an area this may in turn ultimately provide employment for some of those who were formerly “riff raff”.

    It also helps those who are struggling but who are one level up from the homeless. For ex, New York City’s Port Authority, where classical music is used as a weapon, is a transit center for the lower middle class who take commuter buses from their home in New Jersey to New York City and to the working class and students who take long distance buses because they are substantially cheaper than trains and planes.

    It is the working class and marginally employed, one step up from the homeless, who are the most antagonistic towards the homeless and those dependent on government assistance. This is because, I believe, that they recognize how quickly it would be for themselves to be in the homeless person’s position and this is very frightening to contemplate.

    Is clearing out the homeless from an area, that is marginalizing them or causing them to vanish, so we do not have to think about them, optimal? Hell no. But given the reality of capitalism which is not going to change any time soon a merchant will do whatever it takes to bring in the customers and we can only hope that this will ultimately create more employment which the homeless, or about to be homeless, may be able to obtain.

    As far as the elite being the most sympathetic and the most supportive of government programs is concerned, of course this would be so. It is highly paid professionals and business people who are the most dependent on government because they are directly or indirectly so dependent on government salaries, contracts, and purchases.

    They also count on the government to take care of poorer people to keep the poor away from their neighborhoods.

    With regard to the trivialization and commercialization of classical music, this is not the only area where this is happening. This is also happening in religious ritual which is a close cousin to classical music. Look at Christmas for example. Also Mother’s Day where the founder of the non politicized Mothers’ Day (originally Mother’s Day started in the nineteenth century as an anti war protest) died furious over Mothers’ Day commercialization.

    Nor is this a new phenomenon, I am not a Christian but I understand there is a story in the New Testament where Jesus was very upset about the turning of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, after an extensive construction upgrade, into an international commercial tourist attraction and the profiting of individuals from that.

    Does the commercialization and the trivialization of classical music cause people to despise classical music? I do not believe that it does any more than the commercialization of Christmas encourage people to despise Christianity.

    If classical music is not being appreciated by the working classes and losing audience in general it could be because it is much more complicated and requires more thought and concentration than pop music where one can viscerally respond to the beat and have that beat engage one’s anger or other impulses.

    Also it is a question of exposure. CD promoters know that the way to promote the purchase of a CD is to give the songs on it a lot of air time. Ditto with classical music but first there needs to be some exposure to it either in the home or in the schools.

    • David says:

      I don’t think “trivialization” is exactly what I’m talking about (although that is an inevitable effect). Nor do I believe that the commercialization of the genre will lead people to “despise” it. The point is simply this: that in the absence of basic musical literacy, many people never even realize that classical music is anything *more* than “what rich white people listen to.” Christianity, in contrast, markets to the masses and thrives among the uneducated. Even people raised in secular households know or know of people who have experiences of faith—nobody is in any danger of thinking that Christianity is *just* the occasion for Easter egg hunts and Christmas cards. (Though, in fact, many Christians would probably say that such secularization is hurting their image, though they obviously haven’t got anything near the magnitude of problem that classical music has.) In sum, I think it’s a cheap non-explanation to say: well, people are just getting dumber or less patient or whatever. There have always been people indifferent or worse to classical music by temperament; it’s not them I’m concerned with. It’s all the others who will never even have the chance to evaluate for themselves what they’re missing.

      • Sharon says:

        True, In my public high school in the early 1970s the one musical appreciation class was cancelled and the high school band (we did not have an orchestra) never played classical music. We learned about classical music composers in elementary school but heard very little actual classical music.

        Furthermore before the days of the internet only large cities had classical music stations. I do not believe that the suburban town where I was raised was in the broadcast radius.

        My college educated mother did at one point want me to listen to a half hour a day of classical music as background music from the few classical music LPs we had in the house. (However my parents did not listen to them themselves). I tried once, as a nine year old, found it too complicated to relate to, and stopped it.

        To this day, I confess, I am really not “into” classical music (I tend to fall asleep), although I hope that now that I am older and supposedly can handle more intellectually/emotionally complex things, as well as the fact that I am sick of pop music, this may change.

        I like this blog because it’s a great diversion, especially when I need a break at work at my night shift job. I can argue mostly civilly with intelligent people about issues that are not life threatening. I also believe that because of my nursing and social casework background I can sometimes add another perspective to the conversation.

        • Cubs Fan says:

          Great post. Given your background, you might appreciate this: I have a friend who has made quite a career/hobby going to various nursing and retirement homes, giving weekly lectures – 1.5 hours long! – about classical music. He knows that many or most of the attendees haven’t given much thought to classical music throughout their lives and are coming to it totally fresh at ages of 70, 80, 90…They love it. He started with small groups of 10-12 people, but now the rooms are packed. Recently he told me a touching story about an 85-year-old woman, confined to a wheel chair, who attended for the first time and he was talking about “Other Russians” and talked about, then played the Kalinnikov first symphony. Afterward, she came up, tears in her eyes and said “I never knew such music could be so beautiful, I’m sorry that I have so little time left to hear what else I’ve been missing.” It’s never too late!

          • John Borstlap says:

            Great story. Classical music should be accessible to everybody, and the people who happen to be receptive, may be enriched in one way or another.

  • David A. Boxwell says:

    Classical music played outdoors to repel. Insanely loud hip-hop played indoors at the hottest urban eateries to attract.

    • RCKoala says:

      Funny you should say this, as we were leaving a performance of the Brandenberg Concertos, we passed an establishment blasting oontz, oontz “music” packed with millennials.