Anne Midgette has shepherded into the Washington Post a fine piece by Jennifer Gersten, winner of the 2018 Rubin Institute for Music Criticism prize.
Jennifer argues that the music industry does us all a disservice by pitching classical as background music. Some will, inevitably, attempt to deny that this is so. But where I live Classic FM exhorts listeners day and night to relax, as if they are about to undergo some horribly invasive medical procedure and need music to anaesthetise them.
This is what Jennifer hears:
If classical music really sounded the way it’s described in radio ads, composers would have fallen asleep while writing it. “You’ve found an oasis — a place where you can get away from all the craziness,” intones WCLV, a station in Lorain, Ohio, in a recent promotion. “Take some time to relax.” “Calming and refreshing,” KBAQ, a Phoenix station, declares. “Rise above it all,” the District’s own WETA proclaims. These stations regularly offer more raucous selections than these exhortations suggest, but they are advertising themselves as musical sanitariums. The San Francisco-based station KDFC even offers a daily “island of sanity,”including slow pieces by Mozart, Debussy and Bach, in the interest of tempering rush hour woes….
Read on here.