Selection of the week

What is called classical music mostly refers to the Western symphony orchestra tradition that starts in the seventeenth century with Vivaldi and peaks in the early twentieth with Mahler. While classical music remains popular, my unscientific sampling of concert hall audiences indicates that the demographic skews to retirement age and above. I don’t know if this means that a generation of music lovers is about to depart or that people only have the patience to sit through a long concert when they are older. In an attempt to introduce a new generation to classical music, I thought I would present a selection each week. And what’s a better way to kick it off then with the pseudo-Baroque precursor to heavy metal, the Praeludium and Allegro by Fritz Kreisler. Kreisler performed in the first half of the twentieth century. He was one of the greatest violin virtuosos of all time and also wrote some great violin ditties. Here is a performance by the then 13 year old Canadian/American violinist Leila Josefowicz in 1991.

3 thoughts on “Selection of the week

  1. I would say that in general, the past few generations (X,Y, Millenials, etc.) are immersed in an instant gratification culture. That means being able to enjoy something instantaneously — without waiting. This is also coupled with low attention spans. Some things need very little education to appreciate, while others need much education and training before you begin to fully understand and appreciate their beauty. Classical music (or jazz for that matter) fit into this category. This is why you don’t see so many young people at these concerts, but might see them at a Jay-Z/Beyonce show. :-)


  2. What about the popularity of 2 cellos? Their YouTube videos garner millions of views and their concerts sell out large venues.

    I’m concerned about performing arts in general. This summer, I’ve attended live theater (2 Shakespeare plays, one contemporary one) and opera. All have had many empty seats and a mostly geriatric audience. The NEA has found that attendance at live theater has declined by half in 15 years and is continuing to decline.

    There is much evidence that participating in the arts early in life leads to arts patronage later. Given how few kids obtain free and universal arts education in public schools, should we really be surprised?

    FWIW, I practiced violin 2.5 hours/day and could play Flight of the Bumble Bee at tempo. My sister and I served as concert masters in our youth orchestra serially. I don’t really go to classical concerts much now and blame my neck and shoulder pain on too much violin practice when my bones were developing. My mom says I’m just a whiner.


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