Does classical music have anything to say to BLM?

Does classical music have anything to say to BLM?


norman lebrecht

May 21, 2021

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

In a year when every US institution is trying to fly multicultural credentials, the unanswered question is whether classical music has anything positive to contribute. No major orchestra has gone beyond the token overture or intermezzo by a minority composer, and no work by an unsung artist has yet captured the spirit of these times. For all its hiring of diversity v-ps and woke PRs, the music establishment has not changed its ways, nor the audience its tastes.

The present recital is something of a breakthrough….

Read on here.

And here.

En francais ici.

In Spanish here.

In Czech here.


  • Kenneth says:

    The classical literature encompasses themes ranging wide from suffering and death to the idyllic and gallant. It illustrates the entire spectrum of the human condition.

    So yes, it has a thing or two to say, I’d think. We must make the effort and search through it, and through our own souls.

  • New Yorker says:

    Flood gates open, here come the racist rants…….

    • Ali Kanduree says:

      Minnesota’s Hennepin County is extremely Democratic. They voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton and she never once stood up for Mr. Floyd helped with the burial… Nope! George wasn’t a banking executive so no money in her pocket.

      Biden is about to have Floyd’s family over at the White House to feed them and get some pin sharp, empathetic photos plus great footage and “talk” about what he ‘intends to do’ for favorable press. Then what? As usual…NOTHING!

      Minneapolis already realized how stupid they were and re-funded the police yet can’t get people to even apply after the council’s antics. A flood of officers realized they weren’t going to be supported and already abandoned the force.

      No. Being an illegal drug addict and career criminal caught passing a fake $20 at a minority-run store no less is best left to blotters no mater how his ending is marketed.

    • Adrienne says:

      There you have it, the BLM stance summarised perfectly in one sentence: “No dissent acceptable”.

  • Scott says:

    There are 49 hip hop radio stations in NYC. There is one full-time classical station. Classical owes nothing to BLM.

  • Salvart says:

    Was it really necessary to select this horrific image to illustrate your point?

    • Stan Weitz says:

      The image sells best to Liberals who use Floyd’s images to ghoulishly flash about.

      Had the perpetrator been white or another race, they would have been written off as a statistic for data purposes. Same goes for brave black cops who subdue other black perps. No Democrat angle to exploit, gaslighting their feeble minded base.

      People need to watch the full, unedited police videos of the Floyd events to get the facts. He was already in a drug-induced delusional state from getting high in the vehicle with the other 2 suspects he was caught in. His lengthy rap sheet speaks to his propensity toward violence against women and drug dependency. He refused multiple instructions, evaded the officers and had too many drugs in his system to act coherently. Another guy on the sidewalk continuously told him to comply and stop creating problems to no avail. The officers were left with no choice but to finally forcibly subdue him after giving him multiple opportunities as they do everyone else.

      The problem is that numerous other races get equally as forceful treatment but the Left chooses to use blacks as their go to as they still view them as inferior and gullible. Dems in power certainly don’t live in black neighborhoods or send their children to predominant black schools for the sake of diversity. Even the Obamas chose an extravagant, mostly white, gated community since Chicago is too dangerous. Their girls didn’t go to HBU’s. They chose White founded universities. It’s all categorically true.

  • PaulD says:

    You could have used a still picture of the White police officer in Ohio who, with only seconds to react, saved the life of a Black teenaged girl by shooting her knife-wielding Black assailant. He did this at great risk to his career and life, as evidenced by the White House saying that the killing was another example of White brutality. That is, until the people in the White House watched the video of the incident.

    • Evan Pham says:

      The Left loves to wallow in underdog pity party projects until they get embarrassed when the minority (ALWAYS black) is saved not wronged somehow who is light skinned.

      Democrats actually proved their systemic racism, white privilege, white man holds everybody down.

      They Left ended up going with the white guy!!

  • Adrienne says:

    Black Lives Matter has nothing whatsoever to do with black lives mattering, but I think you know this already.

    I doubt if supporters of BLM are waiting with bated breath to see what all those ‘white supremacist’ orchestras are going to do so, in answer to your question, the answer is ‘no’.

  • Orlando says:

    You may want to look at the new season of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

  • Sol Siegel says:

    “No major orchestra has gone beyond the token overture or intermezzo by a minority composer…” Sorry, Norman. The Philadelphia Orchestra performed Florence Price’s 1st Symphony and Piano Concerto this past season, and have slated her other two surviving symphonies for the coming distanced-audience season in the fall, as well as a new tuba concerto by Branford Marsalis, from who the Orchestra has commissioned work previously. Not enough, but a start, and certainly not “token overtures or intermezzos”. P.S. The Price 1st proved a terrific piece and got a rousing performance.

  • Frank says:

    I would prefer it to say nothing.

  • BRUCEB says:

    Sounds promising.

  • V.Lind says:

    It’s not exactly classical music, is it. Will liverman is not the only operatic singer to release an album of popular music. Bryn Terfel, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Renee Fleming, among others, have done it, and many have duetted with pop stars without the songs in question being labelled “classical.”

    Full marks to him, though, for including a Richard Fariña song, one that demonstrated through its composer/performer’s only medium, his art, a wholesale empathy for black Americans in a time of grief. Mr. Liverman in choosing his song shows the kind of ecumenical spirit so singularly absent in too many of the utterances, attitudes and demands of BLM and its ilk. He recognises, as did Fariña, that we can reach out to one another, share one another’s pain, resolve to mend and build and grow, not just to erase, tear down and annihilate.

  • While the album seems interesting, the comment a the top of the review is so incredibly unknowledgeable about the work many orchestras and musicals institutions have done for years. You denigrate Orchestras that represent their diverse communities in Detroit, Oakland, San Francisco, New York, or in the UK, etc… They do it in fantastic ways that break down barriers. Others bring black and minority artists and composers to the forefront for their audiences to discover and teach about how music plays a role in understanding. Still others work with inner city and kids from neighborhoods that people don’t equate with classical music is going on all over the world. It’s not about being woke or about PR (that is absolutely a horrible thing to say), it’s about accessibility to culture and the opportunity for everybody to get a chance to experience orchestral music.
    I’ve really had it with both extremes in this issue, the separatist intellectuals who want to tell us how “racist” music is and the crochety anti-multicultural, temple gardian crowd that don’t know a whit about what is really going on the world they think they are defending. A pox on both their houses. Both are responsible for creating a false debate that has the potential to continue ruining the art form. My question why the uninformed snark, instead of simply covering an oblivious interesting recording? Marc Feldman, Director Orchestre National de Bretagne

  • Nick says:

    There is hardly any need for Classical Music to talk to terrorist organizations! It should stay above terrorism.

  • msc says:

    Classical music has no more need to say anything to the black lives matter movement than it does to the issue of homelessness, the opioid epidemic, the plight of indigenous Americans, etc. Individual artists can certainly address these issues, but the art as a whole has no obligations to anything. In the interest of expanding the repertoire, I am glad black artists are promoting black composers, just as when I see Terfel singing Welsh songs, von Otter singing Swedish songs, etc. Bu

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Who, or what, is meant by the term “classical music” in this context? Please clarify.

  • AnnaT says:

    *Please* pick a different image to represent BLM than a Black man actually being killed.

    • Please says:


      That’s what all this fuss is ostensibly about, isn’t it? The picture is newsworthy. If all the woke carrying on is actually intended to amount to anything then let’s be reminded why.

      • Salvart says:

        The image selected is a jarring reminder of the virulence and brutality of racism.
        The lack of diversity in orchestras represents the removal of arts/musical instruction for school children in the US during the last fifty years.
        Image what would happen if the arts were funded as well sports programs are.

  • Steb says:

    Some more progressive institutions are doing “interesting” things. This performance was broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio yesterday. (5/21/2021)

  • Sol Siegel says:

    Correction: The Price 3rd Symphony will be on Philly’s Digital Stage. The 4th will be both in Verizon Hall and on a later Digital Stage webcast.

  • EagleArts says:

    Norman is an asshole, pure and simple.

    • John Borstlap says:

      It is very rude and unsophisticated to say this, even without the introductionary caveat ‘With all due respect….’

    • Simon Estep says:

      Perceived racism sells even though Floyd’s main mixture of methamphetamine and fentanyl precipitated his hallucinations noted inside the store where he passed counterfeit tenure, combative behavior equally with each officer evading attest along with his drugged out foaming at the mouth ultimately leading to his OD.

      Norman is trying to get paying subscribers just like everybody else. That’s the game and blacks are the marketing vehicle as usual.

  • Jimmie says:

    A truth that must not be spoken: all and I mean all police shootings are a result of one not obeying the commands of police who are given authority to keep law and order in the streets. Career thugs like sainted George Floyd would be alive had he not fought his arrest. Hell, had he not been a career thug he would never had been arrested. Our cities are full of career thugs who cause mayhem and death. God bless those who put on the uniform and try to maintain law and order. To hell with thugs. The more they die, the better society. We as a society have lost respect not only for law enforcement but for teachers and each other.

  • Peter says:

    Does classical music have anything to say to Global Warming ?

    Does classical music have anything to say to COVID ?

    Does classical music have anything to say to world hunger ?

    And does classical music have anything to say to excessive quantitative easing leading to the risk of rampant inflation devaluing the livelihoods of millions of workers and the pensions of millions of the elderly ?

    If “no” then what is the role of classical music ?

    Hang on, have i missed something ?

  • Omar Goddknowe says:

    No BLM (Burn Loot Murder) are a bunch of barbarians that don’t care about, rule of law, culture, and seek to destroy Western Civilization