zaterdag 17 maart 2018

I just had an unexpected passionate conversation about classical music

I never published this blog, which I wrote during my stem cell therapy. I was uncertain about it. But reading it again I think I actually wrote a good piece. Here it is:
I just had an unexpected passionate and coherent conversation about classical music with one of my nurses in the hospital where I am residing while my resistance is too low to be outside due to my stem cell transplant.

It all began two months ago. I realized that there is so much lying going on in classical music. A lot of times it's too much about persons, about personalities, anything, but not about the music itself. I got cynical. I wanted to get out of the music world. I didn't want to join in anymore. Maybe do a different study and find a different profession. This lasted a week. The realization that I could just stop and do something else set me free and made me not think about it anymore.

But this period left something in me. Something I hope to be able to use when I come back again in 2018. I am not sure how yet. But I know my vision on music has broadened yet again.

The nurse came in and asked me why I wasn't watching Maestro, a popular television in which famous Dutch people try to conduct a professional orchestra, judged by three musical experts. With sometimes hilarious results and sometimes touching beautiful moments where you would least expect them.

But the thing is. I don't watch it, I zapp by it, and go on. This program has an obvious good side. It invites people to find out about classical music, music that they might not know and broaden their horizon. But t's really not about the music. It's entertainment with the goal to get people to listen to a seemingly dying art form. And that's fine. But I need music. The aficionado maestros study their music with a conducting teacher (the magnificent Bas Pollard! Someone that is 200% about music!) and perform their theater show for the jury and the orchestra. The jury gives them marks based on how well they lead the orchestra. And some people are remarkably musical, I have to admit!

But is this it? Is this classical music? At least 100 year old music performed in clothing that is the same age with an orchestra. No, of course not. I am a 'classical' musician as well. I largely gave up performing in orchestras when I was asked one time to play 'less musical' to not stick out so much.

Classical music is so much more. It is 500 years of music history. And it consists of so much more than just orchestras, operas and old (genius) composers. 5 years ago I started a Twitter thing to find a different name for classical music. Like Floris Kortie last week in Podium Witteman I think the term is not good enough. It refers to old music, a stuffy, boring, and old-fashioned scene. But in the end I couldn't find a new term. I think it's best to refer to music in general. Now that I think about it. Maybe classical music should just die, finally! And then incorporate it in the music world as a whole. Could you imagine? Stages where one evening the popular rockband De Staat performs, the next night a saxophone orchestra plays Bach and the following week there's a Beethoven Festival. Wouldn't that be fantastic? No more labels. Just music.

Don't get me wrong. Classical music as entertainment is fine. Of course. I read Dan Brown. Good books, easy reading, short chapters. But I also read Reve and Grunberg. There are also radio and tv shows that focus mostly on substance. But it's less likely that these shows will have a substantial audience.

And that is for the most part because of education. When I brought my kids to school for the first time, the principal thought it was a good thing when he told us that their education focusses on social skills, mathematics and language. And of course these are important things, but there's so much more. When I was in school we got very thorough literature education. Now I know why Dan brown is entertainment (and it is excellent entertainment!) and why Reve is true literature.

But we never learned this with music. When is music entertainment, and when is it 'art music'....?

Dangerous things to ask, especially in these days. In a time when low art becomes high art and the other way around. And that's all fine. But there is music that is just music, honest music.

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