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Jesus Christ and Charlotte Church: the ‘saviours’ of classical music

Among the silly lists that music magazines publish in a desperate bid to claim readers’ attention and raise their blood-pressure, none in recent memory has been sillier than ’50 people who changed classical music… forever’ in the February issue of BBC Music magazine.

bbc music

About 45 of the changers and saviours are obvious names. The rest are provocations, Jesus gets included with the rather tame excuse of ‘imagine life without Handel’s Messiah’. And Charlotte Church is there because she inspired ‘the mother-and-father of all bickering over what constitutes ‘classical’ music.’


Oh, really? Much of Handel’s Messiah uses Old Testament texts, not much Jesus there. And few remember or care what Charlotte, the Jackie Evancho of her day, got up to when she was 12. No one, surely, takes these lists seriously.

The more so when BBC Music has omitted from its transformational 50 the two opera singers who invented the cult of celebrity, Maria Malibran and Jenny Lind. Not to mention the founders of the conducting profession, Hans von Bülow and Artur Nikisch. Or Gustav Mahler, who introduced irony and spatial awareness to the symphony. Or Charles Ives who proposed polystilism. Or George Gershwin, the first crossover composer.

It does, however, include Donald Grout.

How silly is that?


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  1. And it’s not even the first time; their The Fifteen Daftest Works feature is an earlier example that immediately springs to mind.

  2. Not Kathy then?

    • @ Alison:

      I cannot be certain but I daresay it might have been an editorial toss-up between the two of them on the basis that having more than one Welsh “operatic” “soprano” in the series of 50 might be seen as disproportionate.

      Wait a minute; why am I sounding as though I’m taking it seriously?!…

  3. You really do have to wonder what they’re saving up for the April issue.

    • To be fair – or at least charitable – one may reasonably assume that these things are not intended by their publishers to be taken all that seriously and this particular instance of creating a novel and unprecedented way of linking together Jesus Christ and Church surely confirms that; the remaining problem, however, is that the entire exercise just isn’t really funny either.

      This is not to knock BBC MM as a whole – after all, any journal that regularly publishes serious and thoughtful criticism from the likes of Calum MacDonald, Roger Nichols et al deserves some respect – but I fear that it does itself few favours when it indulges in this kind of thing.

  4. Any comment on this silliness would itself be silly. Therefore please take no notice of this comment.

  5. Roberto Gonzalez says:

    PLEASE, Donald JAY Grout…

    While living in the State of Indiana, I discovered, “GROUT”, is the singular form of the noun, ” GRITS”…


    • Indeed! Would Charlotte Church exist without Sarah Brightman? I believe Ms. Sarah was unjustly snubbed! eeeek is right. ;->

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