US-based composer: ‘Classical music is inherently racist’

US-based composer: ‘Classical music is inherently racist’


norman lebrecht

June 25, 2019

Nebal Maysaud, 24, has been sounding off in NewMusicBoxUSA:

Western classical music is not about culture. It’s about whiteness. It’s a combination of European traditions which serve the specious belief that whiteness has a culture—one that is superior to all others. Its main purpose is to be a cultural anchor for the myth of white supremacy. In that regard, people of color can never truly be pioneers of Western classical music. The best we can be are exotic guests: entertainment for the white audiences and an example of how Western classical music is more elite than the cultures of people of color…

Read on here.

Maysaud is described as ‘a queer Lebanese composer based in the Washington D.C. Metro Area’.



  • Keen Ned says:

    Where to even start wtih the pack of disinformation in this? This is what happens when you get your ‘education’ in the USA.

    • Mr. Knowitall says:

      Even if it is a big pile of hooey, there’s no reason to blame US educational institutions (all of them?!?). How about the millions of US college graduates who didn’t write this?

    • wladek says:

      It has nothing to do with US education,some people remain stupid and express stupid ignorant thoughts
      no matter where educated .

    • opus 131 says:

      “This is what happens when you get your ‘education’ in the USA.” What nonsense. I was educated in the US. So were Leonard Bernstein and Yo Yo Ma. So were millions of other people whom I would wager have accomplished far more and done far more good in this world than you have.

  • We privatize your value says:

    He looks very white to me.

  • GuestArtist says:

    Much to unpack here… Seems to continue along the current millennial view of “this institution has not accepted me as I think it should have, so let’s burn it down.” It’s really a shame.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    He really is one of life’s victims. Many of his other posts are in this vein “My parents couldn’t afford to give me lessons…and were skeptical, if not hostile, toward my decision to enter a field they knew nothing about. Other musicians my age had the resources and support they needed to succeed while I had to navigate my artistic passion alone”

    Has anybody heard any of his music ? Maybe we’re just giving him the oxygen of publicity by even discussing

    • Kelley says:

      I’ve heard it and performed it and can tell you that it’s really good. I will be programming his extraordinary art song Song for a Small Guest on an upcoming recital. Nearly of these comments are coming from a defensive and hostile place, rather than a nuanced and open one. Jesus, we’re in the arts people!

    • Antonia says:

      I listened to one of his pieces at the close of one of his articles. I was delighted with it! Seemed quite difficult to play, though, but it was beautiful. Small chamber ensemble with a major role for sax.

  • christopher storey says:

    Screw loose somewhere ?

  • Eric B says:

    “Western classical music is not about culture. It’s about whiteness.”
    Well, tell that to the numerous “yellows”, from China, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere who constitute the new generation of brilliant classical artists…
    Just pathetic.

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Fortunately in music and many other subjects the US hasa strong influx of students from East Asia. They are interested in learning and creating, bot peddling the self-pity and politically correct drivel so popular among the locals.

  • May says:

    Norman, why on earth does his little racist rant from a disaffected dilletante deserve space in this blog?
    As if there never was a gay American musician from an immigrant background that was successful? Was Nebal absent on the day when the students were introduced to Aaron Copland? If he can’t appreciate the inclusiveness inherent in classical music, then he should really test his mettle in other genres and see how quickly he lands on his behind. Nebal wishes to bend classical music to make it fit into his own limited vision. He simply misses the point of classical music. He should simply stop “identifying” with classical music if he has a problem with “white” audiences.

    • Piano Fan says:

      Has this attention seeker never heard of Andre Watts? Of Jessye Norman?

      There’s also Zsolt Bognár, who is openly gay and biracial with both parents born outside the United States. And there are a host of others.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    It is evident that Mr Nebal Maysaud is racist.

  • Emil says:

    The article has gotten way more bile directed to it than warranted. It is, of course, deliberately provocative, and probably deliberately harsh, but is it that far off base? Think, for instance, of the following:
    – The high prevalence of operas with orientalising, exclusionary, or outright racist themes (Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte, the extensive blackface tradition in Otello, Turandot, Madame Butterfly, Aida…)
    – The long association between ‘national’ character and music, which suggests that one must be of a certain place to ‘understand’ a type of music (there’s a reason the VPO gets away with not hiring Asians).
    – The general perception is that classical music is ‘serious’ music, while all other musics are inferior; therefore, if Chinese, Afro-Americans, etc. want to play ‘serious’ music, they’d have to play classical music, to the exclusion of other forms of music. There’s a reason that China is investing so much in training classical musicians – it’s a form of cooptation of the dominant cultural frames.

    Finally, would anyone seriously challenge the fact that classical music is overwhelmingly white, male, Western in its writings (I’m not talking about the musicians, which is a different story). And would anyone suggest that is not a relevant fact?

    So I’m not saying ‘burn it all down’, and I’m not taking a firm position on how to deal with all these issues, but isn’t that worth at least some consideration?

    • Mike Schachter says:

      No. If he doesn’t like it he can do something else. Much of the animosity is not directed specifically at him but at the endless whingeing we are subjected to.

      • Emil says:

        Yeah, that’ll solve it.

      • anon says:

        Ah the old “if you don’t like it, leave” trope. A great way to continue gatekeeping and maintaining abusive power structures both in classical music and all other industries.

    • william osborne says:

      An excellent response to the usual reactionary stances in the SD comments section. A rich irony that many SD respondents do in fact use classical music as a marker of their presumed superiority.

    • The View from America says:

      “So I’m not saying ‘burn it all down’, and I’m not taking a firm position on how to deal with all these issues, but isn’t that worth at least some consideration?”

      Not really.

    • John Hill says:

      Not quite as much as it’s worth considering the ultimate futility and vanity in everything you do, and say, and think, when you confront the sobering spectre of your inevitable, and
      now fast approaching, death.

      Memento Mori. ☠️

    • Dh90 says:

      Thank you Emil. I think we might be the only 2 people who actually read the WHOLE article. I completely agree.

    • Jim C. says:

      Being that it comes from Germany basically, the fact that classical music is white isn’t surprising. Or culpable.

  • Tamino says:

    Bullshit. It just comes from a tradition and culture that had its evolution among Europeans. One gets tired of this snowflake pc crap.
    I don‘t think a Jessey Norman, Simon Estes, Seiji Ozawa etc. etc. can reasonably be called „exotic guests“ to the classical music world.

  • John Borstlap says:

    A gifted young man….

    …. writing Western classical (!) tonal music, but MUCH too young (24) to cultivate any substantial opinion about Western classical music, be it the tradition itself or its practitioners. In his angry rant, he criticizes the classical music performance culture, not the music as such, although he is not clear about that. Also he is vain and obviously suffers from a narrow vision. He seems to have been infected by the Music Box nonsense virus which attacks vulnerable, uninformed minds of American background.

    Most mistakes in his text are already addressed in the other comments. Some additions:

    “Western classical music is not about culture. It’s about whiteness. It’s a combination of European traditions which serve the specious belief that whiteness has a culture—one that is superior to all others. Its main purpose is to be a cultural anchor for the myth of white supremacy. In that regard, people of color can never truly be pioneers of Western classical music. The best we can be are exotic guests: entertainment for the white audiences and an example of how Western classical music is more elite than the cultures of people of color.”

    This is a well-known trope within contemporary PC culture wars. The qualities of the Western classical tradition are there for everybody to see / hear, and they are the result of a specific development which took it into directions very different from the traditional music of other cultures, which remained ‘frozen’ at some stage because of their dependance upon non-notational customs. The Western tradition has nothing to do with any idea of ‘supremacy’ which needs ‘the other’ to define its profile. Western classical music always existed for its own reasons, not because of the need to put down other cultures. Where non-European elements have been absorbed, they were transformed to become an organic part of Western music (Debussy, Stravinsky, Bartok etc.) and were not an act of ‘colonialization’, this perception is absurd and the result of ignorance.

    “While most composers of color are responding to a calling, that calling is to create artwork in our own voices not to behold ourselves to the social construct of Western classical music.”

    Another trope of PC nonsense. Western classical music is not a tool for social engineering and where people try to impose such ‘function’, they are following the recipes of the nazis and the communists. Mr Maysaud tries to define music in terms of race, culture and social class warfare and apparently absorbed the worst of Western opinions about music, thereby missing the reality of the art form. Instead of ventilating his impatience, he should read a bit and concentrate on developing his own music, and leave those idiotic theories of PC projections behind.

    Indeed there is a lot to criticize about the Western classical music performance culture, but thinking that the music as such is merely a tool for rightwing supremacy idiocy and that the performance culture is part of a cultural war against coloured people from other cultures, is merely contributing to the erosion of classical music in general. Such theories are mere hobbies of the mentally unemployed, not to be taken seriously.

    Wholeheartedly recommended for reading:

    A source of important educational material about Western classical music and its predicaments in relation to the modern world, is the website of the Future Symphony Institute:

    The site currently undergoes some reworking but will be in the air soon.

    • Emil says:

      Oh pardon me, I was unaware one could not opine on the history of music if one is not at least a contemporary of Beethoven.
      As for the rest, classical music is embedded in and is a product of the culture of the time of its production. Why should music have escaped alone when visual art, literature, philosophy, politics, and all other spheres of human activity were deeply embedded in racism, colonialism, and such?
      As for your last point, I think you didn’t read the article, because that’s not what he’s saying at all.

      • John Borstlap says:

        I did read the article. And its confusions resist simple labelling, but its loud dog whistling fits nicely in the mindset of people who think that ‘visual art, literature, philosophy, politics, and all other spheres of human activity were deeply embedded in racism, colonialism’. Which visual art? Which philosophies? And how much of it, in which contexts? It is very easy to slam in one generalizing sweep the achievements of a civilization, but to one’s own peril. Our cultural past is not blameless, but neither is it the exclusive property of organized crime.

        It helps if one tries to read a bit about these things… instead of choosing the pavlov reaction of unthinking PC culture.

        • Emil says:

          John, seriously, read a book of intellectual history. That’s not a fringe view I’m stating there – it’s very much the mainstream.
          A few examples:
          – Grotius’ theory of just war was informed by his work for the Dutch East Indies Company (Hathaway and Shapiro, The Internationalists, 2017)
          – Hegel’s philosophy of the state and of the master/slave dialectic was informed by and used to justify colonialism, extensively.
          – Locke held actions in slave trade companies, as did Jefferson et al in the US.
          – on the political side, Aerial bombing in the 20th century arose as a means of policing the colonies, coming with its load of visual representations.
          As for the arts, do I really need to explain? Just a look through any museum should make that clear (by the way, remind me why and for whom Verdi composed Aida again?).
          So, again, it’s not controversial to state that intellectual activities in the 17-20th centuries were heavily impacted, influenced and somewhat produced by colonialism. Any book of global history or intellectual history will make that case easily. So, why should musical arts be any different?

          • John Borstlap says:

            The arts are different from politics, and their relationship with contexts, resources, personnel etc. is different, this is a basic fact. If not so, we would stop performing Haydn’s music because it was paid for by an Esterhazy prince who skimmed the incomes of the helpless masses, Beethoven’s music is corrupted because of being supported by people in positions not earned by merit, Thaikovsky being banned for having received money earned by capitalist railway exploitation, etc. etc. One has to make the distinctions between the two levels.



          • Emil says:

            That’s quite the you’ve got there. That’s not what I, or anyone, has said.
            That being said, if you think Haydn’s music was not influenced by the fact he was writing for an Austrian prince…

          • John Borstlap says:

            The fact that Esterhazy supported Haydn may be his only redeeming feature, or maybe even justified his position. If a couple of nobles had got together and had given Mozart a generous pension, he may have lived much longer and written more of his music. That was the motivation behind the princes Kinsky and Lobkowitz, and archduke Rodulph, to pay Beethoven a lifelong grant to work undisturbed. We have to thank them for their initiative, which has been so much more effective than the contemporary funding systems for composers which cultivate mediocrity at best.

          • Emil says:

            That was not my question.

    • Zacharias Galaviz Guerra says:

      Excellently said, John.

  • Chuck says:

    Snowflake, my hemorrhoids have been bothering me lately. Now, let me check again what treats are in store for me on my next year’s Chicago Symphony Orchestra Friday Matinee Series A and B subscriptions.

  • John Borstlap says:


    Mr Maysaud’s biography claims:

    “Since buying his first notation software in 2009, Nebal has grown to become an impactful, award-winning composer. His music is a convergence of faith and identity, asking the big questions in his most personal way. Nebal is a strong activist, who uses his artwork to advocate for the traditionally silenced.”

    Music as a tool for social warfare and engineering has no artistic future if it does not transcend such notions.

    • SVM says:

      I do not have time to read Maysaud’s article in full, so I shall refrain from direct comment thereon it at this juncture (although I think both Bortslap and ‘Emil’ have made some very interesting points). However, looking at Maysaud’s biography (as quoted by Bortslap above), I must say I am perturbed by its implication that pursuing a vocation for composing is instigated by “buying […] notation software”. I am not much older than Maysaud, and *my* first steps (and many of the subsequent ones) in composing were done *by hand*.

      Whilst notation software is a necessary evil to enable one to produce scores and parts an acceptable presentational standard within an acceptable timeframe (provided one actually understands the precepts of how to make notation legible and useful to the performer), one can and should use pencil and paper for the creative process itself. The physical effort may be somewhat greater and the process somewhat more time-consuming, but it does make one reflect more on the quality of the compositional ideas one produces — notation software makes it too easy to churn-out drivel (NB: since I have never heard any of his work, and do not have time to investigate it now, I hasten to add that I am *not* accusing Maysaud of churning-out drivel).

      • David Ward says:

        I use pencil and paper for composition and notation software at a later stage of the process. However, is it really necessary for one of today’s 20-somethings such as Maysaud to do as I do? (I’m 78.) It is no longer considered obligatory for a novelist or poet to write by hand. Do composers have to be any different? (I’m posing the question: I don’t know the answer.)

        • John Borstlap says:

          There is a relationship between the extremely fluent and sometimes ‘glib’ music of early Mozart and his capacity to compose in the mind without the need of sketching, and his more profound and complex later music which did need sketching and revision. And the relationship between the laborious sketching and revising of Beethoven and the complexities of his music, at any stage, is obvious. The scores of Debussy and Ravel, both extremely sophisticated and perfectionist composers, are the result of artisan craftmanship, and the physicality of the tools are part of the creative process, while using machinery relates to industrial production processes which always show a difference with ‘handmade’ objects and the value conferred to them.

          Compare the sound of Philip Glass with that of Ravel.

          • Mr. Knowitall says:

            But as far as I know, Glass composed (maybe still does?) on paper. What’s your point?

          • John Borstlap says:

            If Glass composes with pencil and paper, he has been very successful in imitating a machinelike, industrial type of music. I don’t know how he composes, but the results sound like computer-made.

          • Mr. Knowitall says:

            His best-known stuff well predates computer notation programs. Based on what people have worked with him have told me, he continues to work on paper. Copyists key his work into a notation program.

          • Gary says:

            On a point of information, Glass s scores were always hand written. He may have adopted software latterly.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Agreed. The cumbersome process of paper and pencil is a ‘grounding’ force with a strong impact upon the mind. Working or reading on a screen subliminally influences what is written / read. Music as an abstract art needs some ‘nesting’ into reality as much as possible.

  • Jean says:

    It might be a psychological thing to explain one’s lack of success: “everyone was against me…”, “people were gossiping about me…”, “people were simply too envious…”, “I was simply too good”, etc. etc. etc. Wouldn’t be the first time.

    For me classical music is a bit like ice hockey: there are not so many hispanic or black players in NHL simply because the gear costs quite a lot, as well as the monthly/yearly fees, etc. But to bring up the racism card? – no way.

    • John Borstlap says:

      A team of the Texas Institute of Technology has carried-out a research project in the field of classical music to see whether it is poverty or race which hinders coloured people from entering the profession. It took 6 years and 2 months to collect the data and process them, and 1 day to arrive at a conclusion. The overwheling majority of people who did not enter a musical profession because of economic reasons, in the entire West, except Andorra, Wales and Amish Village (Pennsylvania), identified themselves as white or light-coffee-brown, to a number of 3,587,992. The number of people who did not enter the profession for similar reasons and who identified themselves as black or coloured (whatever that may mean), amounted to 3,754. However, the number of people who identified themselves as black or coloured or non-Western who insisted that they never became musicians because of racist discrimination, was impossible to establish because any time the scholars approached such person, at least 5 others were immediately mobilized, thus greatly impeding the proceedings. As the project leader, Bhubaneswar Ghatowar said: ‘The number of frustrated people in general appears to be beyond the limits that even TIT is capable of handling’.

  • M2N2K says:

    People who think in racist terms naturally see racism everywhere.

  • Tromba in F says:

    More “identity politics” crap. If you write music people want to listen to you will be successful. If, however, you can’t find your way in your career it is far easier to say you are part of some maligned demographic and claim victim status or some sort of discrimination. Of course his situation is everyone else’s fault. I suppose the next step will be to advocate for reparations for queer Lebanese composers who have been marginalized. Sad to see that this is where society is now.

  • LEWES BIRD says:

    If one reads the blog post all the way to the bottom one will learn that the author’s preferred pronoun is “them” — that’s their choice. A few of the commentators above have mispronouned them. Just sayin’.

  • Ellingtonia says:

    “In that regard, people of color can never truly be pioneers of Western classical music”…….I seem to remember that this same kind of allegation used to be made about white men playing jazz or blues music but one has only to listen to the likes of Jan Gabarek, John Taylor, Dave Holland, Tony Coe, Jo Temperley to realise that they immersed themselves in American jazz and then developed their own styles of playing. Perhaps someone should play “Can blue men sing the whites?” by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band as a repost to this limited thinker!

    • John Borstlap says:

      Music, like any cultural tradition, can be absorbed and handled by any talented artist. History proves this clearly.

      • SVM says:

        Hear hear, although I would qualify Bortslap’s comment with “any talented artist with the time, means, and inclination”.

  • Shorvon says:

    Acknowledge that historically, it WAS racist as a factual statement. Prescriptively, move on. Continue to raise the spectre of past ghosts to justify fatalistic ideologies is masochistic and unconstructive. To have a breakthrough in spite of supposed historicised barriers? Now thats something to celebrate.

    • Tamino says:

      Simply wrong. Another all too common case of mistaking correlation for causation.

      Are Norwegians racist, because only 5% of their population have non-western origin?

      • John Borstlap says:

        Fortunately, Beethoven seems to have descended from some moorish ancestors:

        “… Beethoven’s familial connections [relate] to the Flemish region of northern Europe, which had been invaded and ruled by Spain, a nation with connections to the North African Moor culture. This is often coupled with anecdotal descriptions of Beethoven being nick-named “Spaniard” or “Moor” because of his dark, swarthy complexion, and certain portraits of the composer which appear to show him with very dark skin.”

        So, the composer who created the musical basis of the Western central performance culture and the core repertoire (symphony orchestras were created in the early 19C to perform his symphonies), may have been partly black. This will be a very disappointing bit of information, since it undermines the critique of ‘white supremacy’ nonsense and takes away a useful PC tool.

  • Amirhossein says:

    What a load of waffle!

  • Rich C. says:

    I’ll go WAAAAAAAY out on a limb and assume this guy is an anti-Trumper.

  • Anmarie says:

    This is breathtaking in terms of ignorance and victimhood.

  • Edgar says:

    Too much queering theory instead of music. The diva protests too much, methinks.

    How about composing music that is liked my people, irrespective of skin color, heritage, sexual orientation, religious background, etc., etc., etc. – in short: music that appeals to us as human beings, whoever and wherever they are?

    Instead, the young composer seems to first want to establish a theory and then write music that strictly adheres to it, while condemning all other music and forms of music as inherently racist as it does not comply with his theory. That’s totalitarianism, or, worse, puerile behavior.

    Thus Spake Nebal Maysaud. I prefer Thus Spake Zarathustra, also written by a young composer, and much more talented than the young person proffering his so called theory.

    He is not the first one. Bach, as the Communists wanted us to believe, was at the forefront of the liberation of the proletariat.

    Now, according to Nabal Maysaud, we must cease to be that benighted and learn he was a racist.

    Give me a break!

    My advice to the young composer: please do something useful with your life and talent. How about growing up, for starters!

  • Jack says:

    Beethoven appeared to me in a dream last night and confessed his racism. He brought Haydn and Mozart with him to confess their own bigotry.

  • PatrickG says:

    Frankly no time to waste on this.

  • Stephen Tomchik says:

    There is a lot to unpack in this series of linked articles, but the statement that most caught my eye was “colonization takes a culture’s beliefs and indoctrinates the populace so that the colonizer’s beliefs replace those of the colonized.”

    I take it, then, that we ought to lament the “indoctrination” of non-Western cultures such as Russia and Japan in Western art forms such as symphony, opera, novel, and cinema, and should regard figures such as Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Takemitsu, Dostoevsky, Mishima, Eisenstein, and Kurosawa as either victims or fools.

    Thanks, but no thanks.

  • Mark Shulgasser says:

    It’s well known that ‘classical music’ has been dying for decades. It now occupies a negligible economic and social niche; as a cultural phenomenon it is really something of a joke, an antique affectation. Surely hip-hop is far more important, dominant, and equally if not more racist as well. The author should concentrate on finding a place in that great community of poc musicians, and maybe fighting against the cultural appropriation by whites of rock and blues. Surely the Rolling Stones and Eminem have robbed the poc community far more than Mozart did or does.

  • Dennis says:

    More inane “woke” drivel; anti-white racism masquerading as “inclusion” and “diversity.” It just gets worse every day.

    Funny how white, European culture is apparently “spurious”, but he then goes on to extol the alleged virtues of the “cultures of people of color” (of course, “white” in this context is deemed a “non-color”).

  • Walter says:

    This guy is obviously in the wrong profession and needs to be watched. He could race into a Kennedy Center performance with an M-80 rifle, well you know the rest……

  • BrianB says:

    Since Maysaud describes himself on his own website as “a deep spiritual thinker” I have every right to make the same claim and declare his inherently racist (oh the irony) screed to be in itself specious and ineffably silly.

  • reg malgrove says:

    Immature. Self indulgent. Ill informed. Let’s wait and see what he thinks about this antic in twenty years.

    “Racist” is one of the most misused adjectives in the English language.

  • Everyone who keeps making the “What about Jessye Norman” argument: Nebal is a composer, talking about his experience as a composer of color and what he’s perceived in the classical community, in terms of visibility of composers of color. I’m really curious if anyone here can name any composers of color that they’ve seen recently programmed at the symphony or opera. How many of those programs included more than one composer of color? How many seasons included more than one?
    The composers that we celebrate and program over and over again are white.

    • SVM says:

      Well, the truth of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of composers (including the overwhelming majority of white composers) experience almost no “visibility”. And, since the canon of seminal composers and works is extremely small, it is inevitable that *many* demographic categories have very little representation.

      To take an obvious example:

      “The composers that we celebrate and programme over and over again are dead”. [it takes a long time to get a reputation going, and breaking into the canon is so difficult that, well…]

      If you object that death is a state of being, not a demographic, then how about:

      “The composers that we celebrate and programme over and over again tend to come from musical families”. [so much for social mobility…]

      Surely, the real problem is the fact “we celebrate and programme over and over again” a vanishingly small quantity of composers and works, and are not open enough (as audiences, promoters, performers, &c.) to hearing unfamiliar works. Whilst it is certainly a good thing to hear works more than once, both intellectually and sentimentally, the canon has taken this too far.

      Let us expand our repertoires by seeking out great works by all manner of composers, irrespective of demographic factors.

    • M2N2K says:

      During recently concluded centennial season of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the orchestra performed several programs of music by African-American composers during its Harlem Renaissance festival and at least one program of mostly Chinese music. Orchestral and other pieces by Takemitsu and Tan Dun are being programmed and performed quite often by many of the major musical organizations. Judging by his picture, this young man is much whiter than any of those people.

    • Bill Deef says:

      Can’t think of a composer who has a sixth toe, either. Then, again, I wouldn’t know because I’d be listening to the music, not noticing what he looked like. (You could still say I’m racist, if you were sure I was white, though.) . Beethoven was called “the Moor”: does that count?

  • Anon says:

    I didn’t succeed. It couldn’t be me. I must be a victim.

  • Miles1949 says:

    You are a 24 year old child who has so much to learn about people, music and life.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    The intersectionalists are out bright and early today!!

    I am a brown-haired, one-legged, diabetes-inflicted mother of 5. When are my compositions going to be played?

  • Jaime Herrera says:

    Yes, I am a composer too. Until now, it had never occurred to me that the reason nobody has yet played my stuff is that I am not (completely) white. Now I know. Thanks for this beautiful revelation.

  • JR says:

    I am just shaking my head.

  • almaviva says:

    Nebal who???

  • Michael Endres says:

    Wouldn’t it be more productive to focus on advocating his own musical culture, that of Lebanon, than working towards the disappearance ( “It’s Time to Let Classical Music Die” ) of a whole culture, of which he has so much hatred for and so little understanding of ?

  • Michael Endres says:

    Corrected version

    Wouldn’t it be more productive to focus on advocating his own musical culture, that of Lebanon, than working towards the disappearance ( “It’s Time to Let Classical Music Die” ) of a whole culture he has so much hatred for and so little understanding of ?

    • Tom Moore says:

      as far as I know he was born and raised in the USA. Is Lebanon his cultural reference? Only peripherally.

  • Bill Deef says:

    I guess if I was not white and lived in a non-European country (like the US), I’d think my music was the best, too. Or at least that European music, if I could even begin to understand it, was shite. Please respect your roots and I’ll respect mine. Then we agree!

  • Music Fanatic says:

    Nebal Maysaud was doubtless looking for attention when this was published at NewMusicBoxUSA, a 5th rate music site. Thanks to those who have perpetuated this tripe, he has gotten it.

  • Fan says:

    Well, there are 87 comments so far. I will say mission completed. Good for you, Nebal.

  • Symphony musician says:

    This man’s comments remind me of the attitude some people have towards science – that science is flawed in principle, when in fact it’s just that some people do it unscrupulously.
    Some people have clearly gone about “Western Classical Music” (how I hate that definition) with colonialist, patrician ideas, and some of them have had racist ideas – openly, covertly, or unconsciously.
    I am, however, fairly convinced of these four things concerning “classical music”: the common systems of scales and harmony we use are not inherently racist; the principle of extending the length of compositions through various forms of thematic development and manipulation is not inherently racist; the instruments we use to make music are not inherently racist; integrating musical ideas from folk & ethnic traditions is not necessarily racist.
    Attitudes of cultural superiority and even racism in music undoubtedly still exist and may even be quite widespread – they should be called out and actively opposed wherever they exist. I would, however, venture to say that they are less of a problem than they were. There are numerous examples of positive discrimination which, although not without problems, I broadly welcome in principle.
    By all means shine a light on the dodgy attitudes and racism of composers and musicians of the past (although be mindful of the dangers of cultural relativism), but don’t dismiss the whole canon of work. I suspect very few people believe “classical music” can thrive as a living tradition without engaging people from the whole rich, diverse spectrum of humanity, who in turn can help to renew and diversify that tradition.

  • Tandt says:

    All art is born out of a political and cultural context. As time progresses, those contexts tend to fade, and only those works which posses inherent worthwhile formal qualities remain and become canonized, and deservedly so. This is true of all art of all times and places. Thinking it is all some kind of social construct upheld by those in power reveals profound ignorance and even contempt for art. Good luck shaming people into appreciating your art.

  • Jim says:

    It reads to me that he didn’t get the grant he thought he deserved and so blames it on racism instead of the fact that the classical music world is incredibly competitive and filled with talented composers and musicians on every corner.

  • PapaHaydn says:

    Maysaud’s music doesn’t rise above the average level of common, young contemporary composers who still have to learn their profession. His tantrum has gained him much more publicity than anything he has written until now.