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#2032406 - 02/13/13 10:48 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: Pogorelich.]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Quote:

ELITE
a singular or plural in construction : the choice part : cream <the elite of the entertainment world>
b singular or plural in construction : the best of a class <superachievers who dominate the computer elite — Marilyn Chase>
c singular or plural in construction : the socially superior part of society <how the French-speaking elite…was changing — Economist>
d : a group of persons who by virtue of position or education exercise much power or influence <members of the ruling elite>
e : a member of such an elite —usually used in plural <the elites … , pursuing their studies in Europe — Robert Wernick>



Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.

I'm sorry, but what was 1,000 years ago was 1,000 years ago. Sure, it may have been created for the "elites" back then, but some things have changed by now wouldn't you say? Are all of us elite? I live in a basement, for god's sake, with 3 other people, can't afford a car or to own a piano. Thank god I have full scholarship, otherwise I wouldn't be able to go to school either. I try to play somewhat decently... classical music. I don't own any designer clothes. The most expensive thing I own is probably my leather jacket. Am I elite? If so, that's a whole new definition for me, hahaha!


Not just 1000 years ago but during the entire history of Western Classical Music which is only 1000 years long, since the advent of notation.

Classical music is per definition an elite, literary genre.
Quote:

until very recent times, and in some ways up until today, literacy and its fruits have been the possession -- the closely guarded and privileging (even life-saving) possession -- of social elites: ecclesiastical, political, military, hereditary, meritocratic, professional, economic, educational, academic, fashionable, even criminal. What else, after all makes high art high?

Things have changed dramatically in the last 100 years (you are actually allowed to play for pay as a woman) and since the 1960's, in particular now with new technology and the ability to work one job and make music on the side that even those who cannot read and write musical notation can still create (classical) music.

Elite doesn't mean just those who are financially elite.
You are academically and professionally elite because you have had years of demanding, specialist training to do something that to most people is most certainly impossible: play the piano as a kind of museum curator of old or even ancient music.

You may or may not later be financially elite or be elite in terms of your influence on classical music -- only time will tell.

The fact that you and your roommates are, as a figure of speech, starving now is partly a question of supply and demand (supply: too many largely interchangeable reenactors of dead music competing with free or inexpensive reference recordings of very high calibre and demand: too few interested, paying audience members). Also because you are likely not creating new art music for a high paying patron or commercial market niche but are simply performing other (dead) people's creative works.

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#2032408 - 02/13/13 10:49 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: asthecrowflies]
woodog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 430
Loc: Bowling Green, KY
Originally Posted By: asthecrowflies
I'd love to get a poll of the gender & orientation break outs of PW posters. I think we'd find a higher proportion of homos here than in the general public. Much higher.

I think it's funny that some people think that the subject of gay pianists is a prurient one. In fact, I think of it as exactly the opposite - it's a search for identify amongst those of us who seek to understand our place in the world, through the lens of people "like us" whom we respect. Also, to better understand how lucky we are in this day and age, and how fortunate we weren't born in an earlier era. I can't help but think about what it must have been growing up as Van Cliburn, or Pletnev, or Richter, or Glenn Gould. Can't help but think if they channeled their frustrations into their music, and htat helped to take away the pain of being different.

... a sublime happiness that I can only explain by associating it with my own memories of feeling truly safe in my own skin confiding in a female friend in those tormented teen years.

Anyway, I know I'm late to the party, and maybe this thread is just dying embers now, but just thought i'd weigh in!


PS. Debrucey. Your largely ignored joke about wiping was the funniest thing I've read in ages. I spit my drink all over my laptop when i read that. Magnificent.


Your post really touched me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

I now live in Bowling Green, KY (not known as a bastion of liberal thought, home of Rand Paul), but grew up in Camden, SC, a town of about 12,000 at the time.

One of my earliest memories of reading was a sign at the laundromat 'For White Customers Only'.

My partner Greg (we would be married if that were possible where we lived, but it is not) and I were discussing this thread and how religion is only mentioned obliquely. That in itself is fascinating.

As to 'this day and age', Greg and I were talking about how much easier it is to be gay, but I think ease (my perspective only) has - partly - to do with weathering the storm that came about when you decided to be honest, letting those who would impede my life fall away (or telling them point blank to get lost) and embracing those people, situations, religions (Unitarian Universalism) that encourage honesty.

I'm not just out of the closet, I'm out of the house, across the street and in the neighbor's yard.

Tormented teen years... geez... I thought I was the only gay person in the 1970s as I came of age... went through the casting out of demons at a pentacostal church for a cure, undergoing this internal spiritual battle/torment (daily, hourly!! incessantly!!!) until my early 20's. SO unnecessary!!

The final push where I lost my religion was in 1994 when I was dismissed as the music minister at a United Methodist Church after I was publicly outed because of a legal custody/visitation battle to see my son, then 3 years old.

It was a dark, dark time but it was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me as a friend asked the following question:

'Why are you so intent on hanging out with people who will NEVER accept you the way you are?'.

I wish I had known some people I admired were gay. Even in the early 80's in music history classes there was talk of Constanza and Mozart, but nary a mention of Peter Pears when speaking of Benjamin Britton, or only in passing as a tenor for whom he wrote music.

I wanted to play the piano from as far back as I can remember, and my mother, an EXCELLENT pianist, would not teach me. Even though I've never discussed this with her, but I wonder if some of that was to 'dissuade the gay' in me, even though I didn't think of myself in those terms at the time.

At 11 I taught myself for two years until my grandmother volunteered to pay for lessons. I was teased unmercifully in middle and high school (physically assaulted as well as verbally) and so I decided to learn martial arts - partly to have something in my life I could consider 'butch', but mostly because I loved the show 'Kung Fu' and had all of these mental scenarios where I would beat up my tormentors, some of whom I had crushes on, btw. I discovered I was quite good at karate (studying through my 20s and earning black belts), and the physical abuse stopped early on (never had to fight after starting Karate), but the verbal abuse didn't.

I took up piano because, like Karate, Bicycling, audio equipment, automobile mechanics, ... I was INTERESTED in it. Still am. Still study.

This thread is a healing one. It's a good thing.

Forrest

p.s. yes, Debrucey, it was funny!
_________________________
-------------------
current studies:
Debussy: Suite Bergamasque
Bach 848, 866
Schumann Op. 15

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#2032424 - 02/13/13 11:27 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: Kreisler]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
And a reading of Taruskin (or Grout, or any other music history text) will reveal that in various eras, music was created:

For the church.
For the court.
For the people.

In fact, that last category is rather large and doesn't cater to elites. For example:

The public Bach/Abel subscription concerts in England.

The choral tradition championed by Handel, Mendelssohn, and Brahms.

The enormous amount of music written by 19th century composers for amateur musicians (including Schumann and Mendelssohn, as well as lesser-known composers like Kirchner, Gurlitt, Turk, Gade, Heller, etc...) All of this in response to the rise of the middle class in the wake of the French revolution and the access to instruments made less expensive by better manufacturing techniques as a part of the industrial revolution.

As for music being made "by" the elites, some of the greatest did not come from elite stock. Beethoven and Brahms come to mind. Even Schoenberg came from a rather humble family.

Well, the definition of elite does not limit itself to the church or the court.

You provide excellent examples. The advent of music publishing, the piano, the middle class, the choral tradition and widespread amateur music making certainly did increase the size of the group of largely elite people who made and listened to classical music (a group which since the advent of the radio and phonograph followed by the elimination of universal music education seems to have been again in decline.) However, I would argue that by and large this has still been an elite group.

What would you say the national coverage was of those listening to the Bach/Abel subscription concerts in England (versus say the reach of popular music today)? What was the socio-economic background of those people attending? They sound rather like a chique, fashionable, elite, event organized by some rather well-off people with rarified elite artistic qualifications (following Abel's return of working 10 years at court orchestra:

Quote:

In those concerts, many celebrated guest artists appeared, and many works of Haydn received their first English performance.
For ten years the concerts were organized by Mrs. Theresa Cornelys, a retired Venetian opera singer who owned a concert hall at Carlisle House in Soho Square, then the height of fashionable events.


The heyday of the piano -- during which in those homes that had the financial and cultural wherewithal it was ensured that every marriable daughter was taking piano lessons -- was, considered over the last 1000 years, a relatively short-lived phenomenon. Don't underestimate the standing of these households either. The five servant girls working in such a household were almost certainly not taking piano lessons. And, to keep the thread again on track, the boys of the house were often not either.

Beethoven and Brahms were certainly writing by and large for an elite audience. Mendelssohn was from quite an elite family. Handel was writing for such an elite audience that his old-fashioned opera company went bust and he innovated with his oratoria, stroking the ego of a rather elite English mercantile audience.

As to Heller. I can't believe you brought him into this discussion. smile

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#2032438 - 02/13/13 11:51 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: carey]
Tim Adrianson Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/10
Posts: 1122
Morning, carey -- I feel like I owe you an answer, since your reaction seems to be one of total incredulity. Very briefly put, I got that impression because of the way in which I was treated. However, I feel the need to define some time-periods here, by way of explanation. My elementary and high-school education was in the late 50's - mid 60's in a Catholic middle-class setting in the Midwest. The "conventional wisdom" towards classical music at that time tended to be what I refer to as "reverse elitism" -- the attitude that people who listened predominantly to classical music were snobs, putting on airs -- and that "The Arts" in general did NOT need to be cultivated. However, there was virtually no connection made between classical music and homosexuality -- the latter was simply off the map as a consideration; it was only the province of enclaves in a few large cities.

That all changed in the late '60s and early '70s, which spawned an enormous shift in middle-class perception. It was in that time-period of the sexual revolution that many began to realize more fully the link between "The Arts" and homosexuality -- and I would continue to insist that homosexuality was still seen as a shameful thing at that time. The only change was a lot more open sniggering and dwelling upon who was and wasn't "one of THEM". I, unfortunately, was regarded as "one of THEM" -- and treated that way; at arm's length; not within smelling distance; even by my own family.

Actually, I'm not surprised at your incredulity, particularly with your subsequent post about teaching in Nebraska. I believe the late '60s and '70s, as bad as they were in some aspects, did also knock a lot of middle-class America off its smug schneid, and droves of people, in a sincere sense, began to more fully appreciate the value of the Arts, and the discipline necessary to do it well. And not just the elite, but many, many others as well. Personally, I'm glad for your experience.

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#2032515 - 02/13/13 02:48 PM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: GeorgeB]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4535
Loc: in the past
So what would you say about golf, journey? Same logic would apply there.

I don't feel like beating a dead horse. Btw my roommates aren't musicians.

Also, I'm not striving to be a solo performer.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#2032516 - 02/13/13 02:51 PM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: Tim Adrianson]
carey Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6470
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Tim Adrianson
Morning, carey -- I feel like I owe you an answer, since your reaction seems to be one of total incredulity. Very briefly put, I got that impression because of the way in which I was treated. However, I feel the need to define some time-periods here, by way of explanation. My elementary and high-school education was in the late 50's - mid 60's in a Catholic middle-class setting in the Midwest. The "conventional wisdom" towards classical music at that time tended to be what I refer to as "reverse elitism" -- the attitude that people who listened predominantly to classical music were snobs, putting on airs -- and that "The Arts" in general did NOT need to be cultivated. However, there was virtually no connection made between classical music and homosexuality -- the latter was simply off the map as a consideration; it was only the province of enclaves in a few large cities.

That all changed in the late '60s and early '70s, which spawned an enormous shift in middle-class perception. It was in that time-period of the sexual revolution that many began to realize more fully the link between "The Arts" and homosexuality -- and I would continue to insist that homosexuality was still seen as a shameful thing at that time. The only change was a lot more open sniggering and dwelling upon who was and wasn't "one of THEM". I, unfortunately, was regarded as "one of THEM" -- and treated that way; at arm's length; not within smelling distance; even by my own family.

Actually, I'm not surprised at your incredulity, particularly with your subsequent post about teaching in Nebraska. I believe the late '60s and '70s, as bad as they were in some aspects, did also knock a lot of middle-class America off its smug schneid, and droves of people, in a sincere sense, began to more fully appreciate the value of the Arts, and the discipline necessary to do it well. And not just the elite, but many, many others as well. Personally, I'm glad for your experience.

Tim - Thank you for your very thoughtful and sensitive post. Certainly helps to put things in perspective. While you and I are approximately the same age, I grew up in California (San Diego and LA) and attended public school. Over the years I observed and experienced the same general attitudes that you address in your post. Let's face it. Any kid who departs from the "norm" is viewed with suspicion. I was the guy who would stay in and practice Chopin while the neighborhood kids played football. I got a lot of grief for that - until my musical skills (such as they were back then) eventually provided me with recognition and leadership opportunities in high school. The guys who previously razzed me backed off. Perhaps they grew up a bit themselves. When I got to college in the mid-60's I was in a supportive, nurturing environment with other dedicated young musicians. But even then, a career in music was perceived by many in the general school population as a "less than" and not particularly "masculine" option to pursue. The Nebraska college teaching experience in the mid-70's was wonderful. Fortunately I was able to transition from teaching to a long career in arts administration. Even now, however, when I tell people what I did all those years (and that I still play classical piano) all I get in return are blank stares. Folks who aren't involved in the arts don't always "get it" - and that's fine, because, quite frankly, I still don't completely "get" things like football - and my spouse of 38 years, bless her heart, is a football fanatic !! Go figure !!
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#2032555 - 02/13/13 04:00 PM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: Pogorelich.]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
So what would you say about golf, journey? Same logic would apply there.

I don't feel like beating a dead horse. Btw my roommates aren't musicians.

Also, I'm not striving to be a solo performer.


In at least one example, golf's socio-geographic coordinates are opposite to those of homosexuality.

If you play golf in Iowa (which is very laid back and has more public golf courses per capita compared to just about anywhere on the planet), then golf is not an elite pursuit but is about driving a golf cart twice around the same 9 hole, corn-field golf course, finishing before your 24 can case of Miller Light is empty.

If you play golf around Amsterdam, then it is very much an elite pursuit: you have trained under a good pro, you are required to have a state issued license proving you can play, you have a handicap and are improving it, you have an expensive club membership or are on the waiting list and you play golf because your kind of people, or that group you aspire to, play golf.

Everything is relative.

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#2032606 - 02/13/13 05:56 PM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: woodog]
Kimsie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/29/08
Posts: 95
Loc: Arlington, WA
Hi Forrest,

Thanks for sharing. I thought about PMing you but I guess I will add this to the thread, which doesn't have that much to do with piano anymore anyway. I consider myself to be a conservative Christian and if there were two subjects I didn't want to know anything about, they were mental illness and homosexuality, but God had other plans. Now we have a son with schizophrenia (for 9 years) and I am no longer avoiding the issue of homosexuality, either. How did this happen? Our son (not the one who has schizophrenia) has a teacher who is gay.

I was praying for this teacher (just in general, not because he is gay) and I felt convicted that if I was praying for him I should try to understand him, so I went on the internet and read the stories of a lot of gay people and tried to imagine what it would be like to be them. It was really great, but this happened over a period of several months because it was stressful for me, especially at first. Now I feel that all conservative Christians should make an effort to try to understand what it is to be gay and I feel saddened when I hear my friends saying things that show such a lack of understanding. I have spoken with a couple of people about it, but this is a really tough area. Well, that's enough for the thread, but if you want to correspond, you could PM me.

Kim


Edited by Kimsie (02/13/13 07:48 PM)

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#2032631 - 02/13/13 06:52 PM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: GeorgeB]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
If only all religious people were as open minded as you.

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#2032663 - 02/13/13 07:34 PM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: GeorgeB]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4535
Loc: in the past
Yes. My point is that elitist attitude is everywhere, in everything to a certain extent.

I will post something that isserlis wrote later tonight. It will say it better than I can.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#2032758 - 02/13/13 10:41 PM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: GeorgeB]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4535
Loc: in the past
Quote:
About a week ago, I read in the Independent a (rather approving) article reporting on a speech made by someone from Universal Classics, warning that classical music was in grave danger unless it shed its 'stuffy, elitist image'. Now, perhaps I'm wrong to argue with this; perhaps I'm stuffy and elitist myself - but I certainly don't FEEL it! And I HATE reading this time and time again in the papers; it's such a self-fulfilling prophecy. There are certainly some stuffy people in our profession (as in most professions); but they're generally not the musicians... So I wrote the following letter. I reprint it here, not because I thought it was particularly good, but because it was edited for reasons of space; fair enough, and at least they printed it - but it did make it somewhat self-contradictory. So here it is as I wrote it:


I'm surprised to read as news the fact that Mr Hole has warned of the 'danger to classical music' unless it sheds its 'stuffy, elitist image'. (I can't believe that he used those words, but I was not there when he gave the speech in question.) For years, people have been warning of classical music's imminent demise if it fails to sharpen up its image. During those years, countless performers, whose noble determination to 'break down barriers' was matched only by their even greater determination to generate publicity for themselves (unfortunately, in most cases unaccompanied by any special musical talent), have fallen by the wayside; meanwhile, the careers of Messrs Bach, Mozart, Beethoven etc have carried on regardless, transforming people's lives everywhere.

Mr Hole is absolutely right to seek ways to sell the records he produces, of course, and has done fine work so doing, in an industry that has sunk rather low. But for musicians, the point is not to think of ways of selling ourselves - but actually to get on with the wonderful task of playing great music, and playing it well. If audiences tend to be older, that is because older people have more time (and perhaps more need) to listen to the huge symphonies of Beethoven, Bruckner and Mahler (for instance) that address through music the central questions of our existence.

Having said that, it is a tragedy that musical education is so neglected in this country (and many others). As Mr Hole points out, countries such as Venezuela, which offer their young people the chance to study classical music, produce extraordinary results - not only in terms of musical performance, but in producing a whole society of young people who are personally fulfilled and passionately committed to the profession they love. We should follow their example - not for classical music's sake, but for our own.

- Isserlis
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#2032763 - 02/13/13 10:48 PM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: GeorgeB]
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3489
Loc: US
excellent, thanks for posting that!

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#2032785 - 02/13/13 11:36 PM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: sophial]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
We used to have record stores that also sold movies. They have all done. Video store are gone. I don't do business over the internet. I can buy printed music at the music store but that is about it. utube is my only access to the outside world. Most book stores are done. What a new world in a very short time. Most of the movie theatres have closed because the new projectors necessary costs over a million for each theatre.

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#2032839 - 02/14/13 02:32 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: GeorgeB]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Excellent post, Pogorelich.

Quote:

The current Chavez administration has been the most generous patron of El Sistema so far, footing almost its entire annual operating budget as well as additional capital projects.


If the hope for widespread appreciation of and education in classical music is that the people of America and the Netherlands and other Western Nations all freely choose to cozy up to Communist Cuba and elect an authoritarian strongman to become more like Chavez' Venezuela, able to expand and fund classical music populism undemocratically, then we are farther from saving classical music from its long predicted demise (or from becoming even more elitist than it ever was) than I thought...! In fact, that means that classical music is most certainly doomed given that both the US and the Netherlands are governed by uber-citizen-corporations that preach the "free" market gospel that says " if there ain't money in it for us, and a lot of it, then we ain't gonna do it." The fact that fully 30% of all American children grow up in debilitating poverty today is about the only thing that the US has in common with Venezuela.

Who is going to get all the petty little local school boards to agree? Who is going to get taxes raised on homeowners? Implementing and funding and keeping something like " El Sistema " going nationwide in the US would never come about as long as "social services" might as well be a dirty swear word and and no one ever mentions " the poor" and there is no national education policy, no national curriculum, no standardized testing, no federal financing of schools and nobody that can get Congress to do anything that corporations haven't bought fair and square to happen in their own interest. Even the record companies are losing interest in classical:

Quote:

In the 1970's, classical music accounted for 20 percent of record sales in Japan, its most avid market, 10 percent in Western Europe, and 5 percent in North America. As the medium of commercial recording switched from the mid-1980s from LP to CD, and the American market share for classical record sales stabilized at approximately 3 percent (about the same as Jazz, increasingly regarded and described as ' America's classical music'), its status was relegated to that of " niche " product serving a tiny, closed-off clientele whose needs could be met with reissues rather than costly new recordings of the standard repertoire. Major symphony orchestras, especially in the US, found themselves without recording contracts, with serious consequences for the incomes of their personnel. Major labels began concentrating on 'crossover' projects, in which the most popular classical performers collaborated with artists from other walks of musical life in an effort to achieve sales that might transcend the limits of the classical ' niche '. The huge fees that such artists commanded virtually squeezed others out of the recording budget altogether. Classical music seemed destined to become the culture industry's ' basket case'. "


The reason that we have so many wonderful examples in the classical literature to enjoy today is because in the past there were elites that were commissioning them, playing them and preserving them, by force as it were.

Today we have chosen a different model for music which says that whatever is the most popular, whatever has the ability to connect with the largest and thus lowest common denominator of passive demand from listeners, not for art but for crass entertainment (and often using the same scientific insights into the innate weaknesses of our unconscious psychology to manipulate the listener in the same way that Madison Avenue advertisements manipulate us), is what deserves to win in our "holy 'free' market" where isolated, selfish, individual consumers of markets to exploit have taken the place of informed and responsible citizens of communities. Thereby taking the perfectly logical choice of also eliminating universal music education in many or most local schools as superfluous. " Kids should learn to get a job to fend for themselves and to buy stuff. All other education -- especially teaching critical thinking skills -- is a waste of my money and may be even dangerous."

I would say: " We made our bed and now we have to lie in it."

This vision achieving success in Venezuela is utopia for us since we as a society do not share the stated values....

Quote:

"Music has to be recognized as an agent of social development, in the highest sense because it transmits the highest values - solidarity, harmony, mutual compassion. And it has the ability to unite an entire community, and to express sublime feelings"


The reason that homosexuals can marry in the State of Iowa is not because there was a populist vote to grant them their civil rights but because there was a group of elite State Supreme Court Judges with a conscience that decided to read and interpret the State Constitution with intellectual honesty and compassion and to do the right thing. In fact, afterwards, the Judges were voted out by a popular vote as punishment and retribution from the Iowan hoi polloi.

Classical Music will also only be saved when the elites that govern us, in recognition of the great treasure that classical music and active music making has for the entire culture, decide that it has to happen and make it happen.

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#2032881 - 02/14/13 07:06 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: Pogorelich.]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8027
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Quote:
About a week ago, I read in the Independent a (rather approving) article reporting on a speech made by someone from Universal Classics, warning that classical music was in grave danger unless it shed its 'stuffy, elitist image'. Now, perhaps I'm wrong to argue with this; perhaps I'm stuffy and elitist myself - but I certainly don't FEEL it! And I HATE reading this time and time again in the papers; it's such a self-fulfilling prophecy. There are certainly some stuffy people in our profession (as in most professions); but they're generally not the musicians... So I wrote the following letter. I reprint it here, not because I thought it was particularly good, but because it was edited for reasons of space; fair enough, and at least they printed it - but it did make it somewhat self-contradictory. So here it is as I wrote it:


I'm surprised to read as news the fact that Mr Hole has warned of the 'danger to classical music' unless it sheds its 'stuffy, elitist image'. (I can't believe that he used those words, but I was not there when he gave the speech in question.) For years, people have been warning of classical music's imminent demise if it fails to sharpen up its image. During those years, countless performers, whose noble determination to 'break down barriers' was matched only by their even greater determination to generate publicity for themselves (unfortunately, in most cases unaccompanied by any special musical talent), have fallen by the wayside; meanwhile, the careers of Messrs Bach, Mozart, Beethoven etc have carried on regardless, transforming people's lives everywhere.

Mr Hole is absolutely right to seek ways to sell the records he produces, of course, and has done fine work so doing, in an industry that has sunk rather low. But for musicians, the point is not to think of ways of selling ourselves - but actually to get on with the wonderful task of playing great music, and playing it well. If audiences tend to be older, that is because older people have more time (and perhaps more need) to listen to the huge symphonies of Beethoven, Bruckner and Mahler (for instance) that address through music the central questions of our existence.

Having said that, it is a tragedy that musical education is so neglected in this country (and many others). As Mr Hole points out, countries such as Venezuela, which offer their young people the chance to study classical music, produce extraordinary results - not only in terms of musical performance, but in producing a whole society of young people who are personally fulfilled and passionately committed to the profession they love. We should follow their example - not for classical music's sake, but for our own.

- Isserlis


Mr. Isserlis may not be stuffy, and he may not be elitist, but he certainly is one of the elite classical performers in the world today (and with good reason - he's a wonderful musician).

I don't recall many people saying that classical music was in danger of imminent demise - it seems to me that they have more often been talking about a fairly long-term process of how it is receding into an ever less important role in the culture, as well as a redefining of what classical music is.

Of course, recording company executives are in a bind, but their concerns don't necessarily represent the overall picture. But there's no doubt that the huge changes in the recording industry are having a big effect on classical music. I'm old enough to remember when various recording labels had some artistic cachet, quaint as that idea might seem to younger people who have never experienced it. And it really made a very large difference in an artist's career to get signed on with certain companies, in a way that no longer seems to matter all that much.

More and more, artists and organizations seem to be going "indie". Which is fine, except that if there are thousands of indies vying for the attention of any one person who loves classical music, how does that person find what they really want to hear? There's not enough time in the day to check out all of it.

In a funny way, it's almost like going back to the limitations of the pre-electronic days, when your local circumstances determined what your exposure might be.

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#2032886 - 02/14/13 07:43 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: GeorgeB]
Lemon Pledge Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 353
Hey this turned out to be an interesting thread!

Many here are attributing the demise of classical music's popularity to its "stuffy and elitist image." I'll get around to "stuffy" later, but it's completely backwards wrong (imo) to suggest that the consumption of classical music is waning due to its elitist image. At least in America.

Let's face it, elite is a fun thing to be, or to pretend to be, or to imagine becoming. An enormous number of people, particularly of the middle classes, aspire and strive towards elite status in one form or another (wealth, social standing, taste, power, whatever.) Classical music consumption has declined in America over the past 5 or 6 decades precisely because it used to be symbol of elite status but no longer is. Two generations ago, a man could use his philharmonic subscription and his Beethoven LPs to signal that he was smarter/better educated/more refined/richer/generally superior to his neighbor who liked Pat Boone. This doesn't work anymore. A few people still try it but they look clueless doing it. This is a positive development, even though it's bad news for orchestra fundraisers.

The aspirational aspects of classical music have left the West and migrated to the East. When I was a music student in the mid-90s, Korean women made up a good portion of the piano class, maybe 25%. It was explained to me (sometimes by the women themselves) that a piano degree from a prestigious US school could enhance a young woman's social standing and improve her marriage prospects, i.e. bring her a more elite status. (Of course, not all of them were there for that reason.) After the initial foreign-ness of this wore off, I came to think: that's cool, it's great that there are some people on the planet for whom attending a conservatory is a rational economic decision. I don't know whether this is still true in Korea.

I don't know anything about China, but if there are really 100 million kids studying piano there, I have to guess it has a lot do with a huge, growing, rapidly improving and stratifying middle class sorting out its status cues.

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#2032896 - 02/14/13 08:35 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: GeorgeB]
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1255
Loc:
Talking of elites, getting musical education for children in Europe can be done cheaply.You can download music for free (if that s your choice) in many sites all over the net. A huge catalog of classical music. It 's not the world of classical music that s dumbing down people, to this day i think whoever is involved in classical does it out of own genuine interest. Classical music doesn't really pay unless you're one of the few top guys. IT 's stuff like MTV that dumds down people. Lower standards of education, the culture of immediateness, the mediocrity of world leaders ... all that that s been discussed so many times.
Having said that, i saw Gergiev with the Mariinsky a month ago. 94 eur for a 2 hour show, rest of the tickets rangede from 68 eur (very few) to 142 eur. You just cannot expect people to pay that much for a 2 hour concert on a frequent basis.

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#2033570 - 02/15/13 07:48 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: Whizbang]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8027
Originally Posted By: Whizbang


In the US, at least, and to my impression, which may be very flawed, the piano as an instrument no longer has that stigma (say, compared to the flute), though perhaps classical music might.



This is a bit tardy (not to mention OT), but I remembered that bit about the flute, and recalled hearing that Captain "Sully" Sullenberg, who famously ditched a passenger jet in the Hudson without loss of life, was a flute player as a kid, in his middle school and high school bands in the late 1960s. And this was in north Texas. Yikes!! It seems he must have always had an ample amount of "intestinal fortitude".

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#2033578 - 02/15/13 08:10 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: GeorgeB]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Every male flautist I know is gay, lol. Mind you, I suppose I'd be more likely to know the gay ones than the straight ones.

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#2033601 - 02/15/13 08:49 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: wr]
Old Man Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/12
Posts: 778
Loc: Michigan, USA
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Whizbang


In the US, at least, and to my impression, which may be very flawed, the piano as an instrument no longer has that stigma (say, compared to the flute), though perhaps classical music might.



This is a bit tardy (not to mention OT), but I remembered that bit about the flute, and recalled hearing that Captain "Sully" Sullenberg, who famously ditched a passenger jet in the Hudson without loss of life, was a flute player as a kid, in his middle school and high school bands in the late 1960s. And this was in north Texas. Yikes!! It seems he must have always had an ample amount of "intestinal fortitude".

The late actor, Patrick Swayze, was also a Texas boy, and studied ballet (double "yikes"!). In a 1984 interview, he said, "People thought I must be gay. To keep from getting beat up, I studied fighting. I grew my hair long, in redneck Texas, mind you, then went around waiting for someone to throw a punch. I became a very angry young man."

We Americans toss the word "liberty" around a lot. But I'm not sure how much liberty we really have if you cannot pursue what you love without an "ample amount of 'intestinal fortitude'". How one's private bedroom activity becomes the world's business is beyond comprehension.

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#2033610 - 02/15/13 09:19 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: debrucey]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: debrucey
Every male flautist I know is gay, lol. Mind you, I suppose I'd be more likely to know the gay ones than the straight ones.


With regards to knowing gay flautists the first question that springs to mind is: in the Biblical sense?

I actually am friends with a male flautist (one who even builds his own instruments mind you) who is not gay. Of course he is perhaps compensated by another woman I studied with who is a lesbian flautist.

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#2033624 - 02/15/13 09:56 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: GeorgeB]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Well, to my knowledge I don't think I've ever 'known' a straight flautist haha

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#2033628 - 02/15/13 10:00 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: GeorgeB]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4535
Loc: in the past
Izaldu, it's definitely worth seeing gergiev for that much money. What did they play?
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#2033631 - 02/15/13 10:05 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: Old Man]
woodog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 430
Loc: Bowling Green, KY
Originally Posted By: Old Man

We Americans toss the word "liberty" around a lot. But I'm not sure how much liberty we really have if you cannot pursue what you love without an "ample amount of 'intestinal fortitude'". How one's private bedroom activity becomes the world's business is beyond comprehension.


If you really think about it, the world's heterosexual behavior has long been the 'world's business'. You don't think about it because it's ubiquitous.

Us gay folk are just beginning to catch up to the mainstream, and that's discomforting for the majority.

When I visit a place like Wilton Manors, Florida (US) which is GAY GAY GAY... and see real estate ads with two men holding hands looking at a backyard pool, or eat in a restaurant where everyone else around me can be assumed to be gay without much room for error, that is a paradigm shift for me as a resident of south central Kentucky, where radio, TV, billboards, office conversation... EVERYTHING (pretty much) has a heterosexual spin to it.

I see young people holding hands, wedding rings, wedding announcement, bridal showers, suggestive coffee advertisement, hugs as couples part, all the love songs bombarding us from the radio, not to mention the E.D. ads - as the grizzled man in the pickup truck pulls into the driveway and greets his blushing and coy bride - 'this is your time of life... BE READY!!

well, you would think they would be ashamed shoving that down my throat (see? does that statement make you feel odd somehow?)

I can visit a university music department and expect (well, these days yes, not so much in the 70's) that my sexuality, while not the majority, is certainly not uncomfortable (or, barring comfort, unfamiliar) for the folks around me.

As a black belt visiting a martial arts dojo, not quite so much. :-)

There's a reason I continue to study piano but do not continue to pursue Karate**, even though I love them both.

As gayness becomes more of a non-issue, I won't be surprised when more heterosexual males become pianists, or at least 'piano-literate'.

Forrest

**well, the consequences of poor technique in Karate are a bit more dramatic... there IS that. :-)
_________________________
-------------------
current studies:
Debussy: Suite Bergamasque
Bach 848, 866
Schumann Op. 15

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#2033651 - 02/15/13 10:44 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: debrucey]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: debrucey
Well, to my knowledge I don't think I've ever 'known' a straight flautist haha


LOL

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#2033681 - 02/15/13 11:43 AM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: woodog]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: woodog
As gayness becomes more of a non-issue, I won't be surprised when more heterosexual males become pianists, or at least 'piano-literate'.


Well, well, now we are finally back full circle to some of the assumptions surrounding the initial question on the thread.

I know quite a few male pianists in and around Amsterdam, which is about as non-homophobic of a place as you can get in Europe. I know classical pianists, jazz pianists, cocktail bar pianists, good pianists, bad pianists, professionals, amateurs, students, adult returners, adult beginners, conservatory students, teachers, retired teachers, young, old, ...

The homosexuals are definitely in the minority in my unscientific sample although perhaps slightly above the estimated percentages for the population as a whole.

I don't think that there is anything gay about the piano.

I think that generalized labeling of male pianists as gay says more about the person doing the labeling and the cultural bias that they are immersed in. So, yes, if the piano were not dying out in general, I would agree with you that as cultural attitudes of gay=evil and classical piano = gay change that more straight boys might take up the piano. I think that most of them will will just buy guitar hero instead (or maybe even a real guitar).

I do still think that it is a valid question why so many extraordinarily successful master pianists in the 20th century were gay. The answer seems to have been given by Kreisler: be because they were allowed to be (for many of the early ones, as long as they put on a charade or remained largely in the closet).

What a wonderful world when everyone would be allowed to choose in freedom and to do what he or she is talented and passionate about while still being able to be honest about and true to theselves.

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#2033736 - 02/15/13 01:12 PM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: Old Man]
carey Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6470
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Old Man
We Americans toss the word "liberty" around a lot. But I'm not sure how much liberty we really have if you cannot pursue what you love without an "ample amount of 'intestinal fortitude'". How one's private bedroom activity becomes the world's business is beyond comprehension.


Probably because it's no longer primarily confined to the bedroom - and more and more heterosexual folk are being challenged to co-exist with the gay community in their daily lives. Sadly, human nature being what it is, some deal well with this - and others don't.

As for pursuing the things you love - I say "go for it."
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#2033737 - 02/15/13 01:16 PM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: theJourney]
carey Online   content
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6470
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: theJourney
I don't think that there is anything gay about the piano.

I think that generalized labeling of male pianists as gay says more about the person doing the labeling and the cultural bias that they are immersed in.....

What a wonderful world when everyone would be allowed to choose in freedom and to do what he or she is talented and passionate about while still being able to be honest about and true to themselves.


Well said !!!!! thumb
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#2033759 - 02/15/13 02:06 PM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: carey]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4931
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Old Man
We Americans toss the word "liberty" around a lot. But I'm not sure how much liberty we really have if you cannot pursue what you love without an "ample amount of 'intestinal fortitude'". How one's private bedroom activity becomes the world's business is beyond comprehension.


Probably because it's no longer primarily confined to the bedroom - and more and more heterosexual folk are being challenged to co-exist with the gay community in their daily lives. Sadly, human nature being what it is, some deal well with this - and others don't.


As for pursuing the things you love - I say "go for it."


I think it also has to do with the fact that a lot of the gay community has a "We're gay and you better like it!" sort of mentality and come across very loud-mouthed and pushy.

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#2033761 - 02/15/13 02:08 PM Re: The piano and homosexuality [Re: GeorgeB]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
I doubt all of them are like that. There's usually a loud, hardline minority in every group of people.
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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