Friday, March 04, 2005

Beethoven in Guantanamo

Norman Lebrecht wonders why people don't listen to classical music any more. He writes:
Why the world has gone off classical concerts is a conundrum in which almost every reasonable assertion is disputable. Take the attention-span thesis. Many in the concert world believe that its decline stems from the public’s flickering tolerance for prolonged concentration. If politicians speak in soundbites, how can we expect voters to sit through a Bruckner symphony?

It is a persuasive argument but one that I have come to find both fatuous and patronising. Around me I see people of all ages who sit gripped through four hours of King Lear, Lord of the Rings or a grand-slam tennis final but who, ten minutes into a classical concert, are squirming in their seats and wondering what crime they had committed to be held captive, silent and legroom-restrained, in such Guantanamo conditions.

Price isn't a factor either, writes Lebrecht. So what keeps the crowds away? The atmosphere. Read the full piece.

(Link via Arts & Letters Daily.)

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