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Edward Elgar

Blog 13

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This blog relates to the Cambridge debate which I have just watched and which is still fresh in my mind. Below is a link where you can watch the debate if you have two hours to kill.

The debate focused on the motion which was: 'This House believes that classical music is irrelevant to today's youth'.

The arguments for the motion were many. DJ 'Kissy Sell Out' pointed out that even if a classical piece of music is famous, most people would not be able to tell you the name of it. Classical music doesn't adhere to the image or language of popular culture and is perceived to be elitist as much of it was commissioned by the rich. Classical music requires one to sit still without Bacardi Breezers and provides no recognizable opportunity to unite people. Some speakers were quite aggressive. They spoke of the torture of opera and the unfairness of government funding considering the proportion of people who attend performances. The more rational speakers for the motion said that to call a piece of music "classical" is to call it irrelevant as it does not reference anything that could be of relevance in a person's life.

The arguments against the motion were mostly about the obvious benefits of classical music, but made little headway to rebuke the motion. The Venezuelan youth orchestra was mentioned as an example of how music can be relevant to young people. However, most speakers simply pointed out that classical music can speak to us today as it explores universal themes much like Shakespeare. Classical music is exiting and engaging. Classical music can be whatever you want it to be about as it's an abstract art form. Stephen Fry compared disposable music to a cheap prostitute and valuable music to a naturally beautiful woman. He also warned of the snobbery of the young due to a rapid rate of change regarding which music is perceived by the young as "cool".

The debate really made me think about the place of classical music in our time. It is an esoteric art form, and to call oneself a 'classical composer' is to say, "I reject the conventions of my age and distance myself from the majority of the population". I have always enjoyed listening to classical music and I always will. I feel indifference towards those who don't want to listen to classical music. I believe art music should be financially supported just as galleries are so that anyone can experience it and the illusions of elitism and snobbery will crumble. I think everyone should be exposed to classical music and asked whether or not they enjoy it. It should not be advertised as "the best" music. (Although to me it is! )
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