Bostridge and me

I'm in the July issue of Gramophone, the cheerful, energetic British classical CD magazine. That's old news by now, I guess, but they were late in sending me the issue, and I was late in looking at it. They like to reprint things they read in blogs, and they chose my "Boring Old Handel" post from this past April, which they cut very skillfully, to fill the space they had for it. My title, of course, was ironic. What I meant was that Handel, in his time, was anything but boring, and that his operas were unabashed spectacle, visual, vocal, and … [Read more...]

The end of hegemony

Here's the second statement I promised, outlining where classical music currently is. It's from the extraordinary musicologist Robert Fink, who explodes with ideas, and connections between music and the rest of the world. (See, for instance, his book on minimalism, Repeating Ourselves). Here I'll quote from Robert's paper "Elvis Everywhere: Musicology and Popular Music Studies at the Twilight of the Canon" American Music, Vol. 16, No. 2. (Summer, 1998), pp. 135-179). This paper was delivered to an audience of pop critics, and academics who … [Read more...]

Off the pedestal

Our discussion of classical music and pop -- or vs. pop --seems to resonate very deeply for many people, and one reason has to be its larger context. We're in an era of great change. One long-term change has been the dethroning of classical music -- when I grew up in the 1950s, it reigned unchallenged as musical art, but for decades now, this hasn't been true. But I don't think we've caught up to this understanding yet (And by "we," I mean not only those of us who take part in this blog -- which I'm starting to think of as very much a … [Read more...]


I've said before that the comments are often the most stimulating part of this blog. That's especially been true in the 19 posts (so far)  in response to my "Miniatures?" post, which itself was a response to a comment. Together, all this is a terrific discussion of the artistic merits of pop music, as opposed (or not opposed) to classical. Read it! * In an earlier post, I asked whether any classical music organizations buy carbon offsets, to undo (or at least make a gesture toward undoing) the environmental effect of their … [Read more...]


BP, in a comment to my last post, suggested we resume the debate about the artistic merits of pop music. I'd lain down a challenge -- can anyone argue the negative side (pop music doesn't have much artistic value, or at least less than classical music) with detailed reference to specific songs and albums from pop musicians widely accepted as serious? Bob Judd -- the executive director of the  American Musicological Society -- posted a comment to my  pre-vacation post, in which he didn't quite do this, but did raise an interesting and important … [Read more...]

Something good about classical music

Here's something that seemed obvious, once it occurred to me. But I'd never thought of it before: classical music might be better for the environment than pop, because it (probably) has a lower carbon footprint. Or, more simply, it seems to use less electricity. This came to me when I was reading British press comment last month on the Live Earth event, comprising concerts in many countries, which were designed to draw attention to global warming. The British press (or at least the Guardian and the Independent, the two papers I read … [Read more...]


I'm back from vacation, and (before getting back to all the serious stuff) I want to show you this little guy (or girl) -- a very young hedgehog, eating from a plate of food we put out on our driveway, during our month in England. The plate is four inches across, which should show you how tiny the hedgehog was. Hedgehogs -- adorable bristly animals -- aren't found in the US, but people in Britain (and elsewhere) go crazy for hem, and we've joined the cult. We had a family of them living under some bushes near our house, a mother and three … [Read more...]