Skip to content

Point for debate - Classical elitism

Updated Saturday, 7th April 2007

Does Reith 2006 lecturer Daniel Barenboim do himself a disservice when he fails to relate to music outside his field, wondered community user Alasdair Codona.

This page was published over five years ago. Please be aware that due to the passage of time, the information provided on this page may be out of date or otherwise inaccurate, and any views or opinions expressed may no longer be relevant. Some technical elements such as audio-visual and interactive media may no longer work. For more detail, see our Archive and Deletion Policy

Detail from a double bass Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Jupiter Images

'The music is innocent', says Daniel Barenboim. Daniel Barenboim is not.

Sue Lawley's poser, 'that pop music can have that same transcendental power', was greeted only with laughter and merry-making. Lindsay Caisley's very honest anecdote had illustrated that pop music can indeed cause individuals to have significant personal experiences; Daniel Barenboim's sceptical quip, 'if you feel it, how wonderful for you', demonstrated his inability to perceive the power of other forms of music because he finds them less personally fulfilling than his own style.

'Music is not elitist', says Daniel Barenboim. Daniel Barenboim is.

More understanding of music can indeed bring more appreciation, except in Daniel Barenboim's case, where it brings less. One suspects that Daniel Barenboim will never understand the 'subversive' role played by pop music in its counterpoint to his educated classical music.

The role of music is more than just an intellectual one, it rewards and fascinates in other ways too. Just hearing a regular beat on a drum can activate a person's instincts and imagination. You don't have to count the beats or analyse the rhythm. An unusual beat is nice, but a regular one can do the same job sometimes. Artifice doesn't guarantee a warm response from human beings, neither does simplicity.

All skilled music and even unskilled music, possessing beauty to some degree, can produce transcendent moments. Music is not alone as a medium that facilitates transcendent moments. A sunrise itself will do. Being highly intellectual doesn't necessarily make you more beneficial to others nor does it necessarily make you an attractive, interesting or fulfilling acquaintance. Commonly, people respond most readily to something pitched at their own level.





Related content (tags)

Copyright information

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?