View Poll Results: Is There Any Positive Correlation Between Great Classical Music And Popularity?

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  • Probably yes

    26 39.39%
  • Probably not

    29 43.94%
  • Unsure

    11 16.67%
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Thread: Is There Any Positive Correlation Between Great Classical Music And Popularity?

  1. #1
    Senior Member ArtMusic's Avatar
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    Default Is There Any Positive Correlation Between Great Classical Music And Popularity?

    The greater a piece of music, the more popular it tends to be.

    I think the answer is "probably yes", but let's see what you think.

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    Senior Member Headphone Hermit's Avatar
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    No (wish I could vote for 'certainly not'!) - otherwise the best ever piece of classical music would have to be something like Vivaldi's Four Seasons and the best performance ever would have to be something like The Three Tenors concert
    "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils." Berlioz, 1856

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    Senior Member musicrom's Avatar
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    If no, then Ignaz Ziebler's Junges Sterben would be among the best compositions ever. That's why I voted probably yes.
    (I don't actually know that piece, maybe it is really good, but somehow I tend to doubt it)

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  7. #4
    Senior Member Blake's Avatar
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    I'll probably say yes to being unsure, not.

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    Senior Member senza sordino's Avatar
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    I think the best music will generally float to the top of popularity. But there are always exceptions. Bolero, 1812 etc which has floated to the top and I don't know why. The Haydn violin concerti I just listened to are perfectly fine, lots of good stuff but not a part of standard repertoire.

    I don't want to be the kind of listener who only listens to obscure music and forgoes the popular music.

    Is there a correlation? Weak, but possibly yes, sometimes, maybe, I don't know, could be, perhaps.

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    Senior Member violadude's Avatar
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    Not necessarily. There are popular classical pieces that are really great and there are popular classical pieces that are not so great.

    Also, are you talking about popular amongst classical music connoisseurs or are you talking about popular among people who only know classical music from tv ads and possibly a random top 50 classical albums that they enjoy from time to time?
    Last edited by violadude; Apr-20-2014 at 22:29.

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    Yes and no. I would never expect a popularity based ranking to be reliable in assessing the relative greatness of music. But on the whole great classical music tends to attract some level of popularity in the musically aware public. Having said that some music is just too introverted / subtle that it will never achieve widespread popularity outside a circle of discriminating connoisseurs (that is people like me!).

    Now Vivaldi's Four Season's is deservedly popular, but likely to be ranked higher than other even more deserving pieces. I'll certainly give it the label great whereas Tchaikovsky's 1812 is almost a potboiler for me.

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    The question is, is there a correlation. There is obviously a correlation, and I would think a very strong one. The obvious follow-on question is, why? Exceptions of course do not disprove a correlation.


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  16. #9
    Senior Member Headphone Hermit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicrom View Post
    If no, then Ignaz Ziebler's Junges Sterben would be among the best compositions ever.
    but the lack of positive correlation does not logically mean that there is a negative correlation. There is the possibility that there is no correlation (or even, that there is little correlation)
    "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils." Berlioz, 1856

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  18. #10
    Senior Member ArtMusic's Avatar
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    I'm talking about in general.

    So Bach's Brandenburg Concertos are enormously popular amongst CM listeners (i.e. members here for example), and these concertos are indeed great.

    Vivaldi's 4 Seasons are also popular amongst CM listeners and more so amongst the general public, but it is great in some ways.

    Beethoven symphonies, Mozart's piano concertos, symphonies etc as well.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    The popular great music is the most popular great music.

    Taken to the extreme, it is a theme of a few notes from Beethoven's Ninth, (ode to joy), perhaps coupled with a few more measures, but a brief extract of a 'great' four movement symphony.

    The popular classical lists are filled with the most generally accessible of works, often not exactly the best or greatest of those composer's works.

    Ergo, the only proper answer to "Is There Any Positive Correlation Between Great Classical Music And Popularity?" is, "Not much, if any at all."

    The theme to Star Wars and the Star Wars Suite enjoy huge popularity world-wide. The likelihood the suite has been listened to by far more listeners than the complete Symphony No. 9 of Beethoven is very high.

    Ergo: John Williams' suite from Star Wars is some of the greatest music of all time.

    Yeah. Right.

    Based upon the criterion of "lovely melodies" Rachmaninoff rates higher than Bach.
    Just look at the poll results for the likes of "Classic FM," and realize that wide popularity quickly goes to the area of mid to low common denominator, and there, "popularity" is not an indication of greatness but, uh, popularity.

    Maybe you should have qualified 'popularity.' LOL.
    Last edited by PetrB; Apr-21-2014 at 09:14.

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    A visitor from another planet listening to commercial classical radio, on first impression would assume Earthlings worship Vivaldi as a God.
    Facts don't care about your feelings.

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    Senior Member merlinus's Avatar
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    Maybe you should have qualified 'popularity.' LOL.
    and defined "great" as well!
    -merlin

    What you see depends upon where you stand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hpowders View Post
    A visitor from another planet listening to commercial classical radio, on first impression would assume Earthlings worship Vivaldi as a God.
    Until he got wind of Bieber, that is.

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  28. #15
    nathanb
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    I would vote "probably yes" on the basis of "exceptions do not disprove a correlation", but I would add that in most genres of music, popularity diverged from inspiration, etc at some point. In other words, in the time of Mozart, or Beethoven, or Brahms or Wagner or Verdi, popularity was certainly correlated. In the modern day, inspiration, compositional quality, originality, etc. had to become so radical that the standard human being is going to exalt John Williams instead. Or, in other genres, Beliebers will be spawned.

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