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Classical Music as Popular Music Author(s): James Parakilas Source: The Journal of Musicolo gy, Vol.

Classical Music as Popular Music Author(s): James Parakilas Source: The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Winter, 1984), pp. 1-18 Published by: University of California Press

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CLASSICALMUSICAS POPULARMUSIC*

JAMESPARAKILAS

Compared

to popularmusic, classical music seems like a specialty. But

specialties within itself-early music andnew

classical music contains

to which most of the classical music televisedon "Great

music-compared

Performances"seems like a popular art.Classicalmusicis not oftendefined

andnew music; moreoften

it is consideredthenormwhichdefinesothersortsof music. But

it as a normis no

kind of specialty it is. This study treatsclassical music as a specialty in its

own right; it treats early music and new music not as specialties within

from it to define it by

contrast.This studyrepresents classicalmusicnot as a

even among "classical" musics in world history, but as the product of

special

classical music new kinds of

music continuesto be ple in numberswhich

larity is explained in this study by the music's special

than by its universal appeal.

popu-

classical

popularity it has or what

considering

by being compared to popularmusic,

or to

early

way

to understandwhatkind of

distinct

enough

music, but as specialties

historicalconditions.

specialized.

normal phenomenon,

Adaptation to new uses and new media gives

popularity,

but the popularity of classical

Even when classical music reaches peo-

that

would be impressive for popularmusic,

associationsrather

Classical music and popular music

When classical music is

place

performed at Avery

Fisher Hall or the Met,

thereis no more reasonto label it "classical" thanthereis to label music

at the ShubertTheatre

The

music are found

Radio stations, at least

places, but the listenerfinds

in most cases the stationestablishesits own

its specialty:

itself with

differentstationson the same radio, and

"Broadway" or

music at a square dance "folk."

where various kinds of

places it. The labels are needed only

together, as they are in record stores and on the radio.

in

America, specialize

no less than

performance

many

place by labelling

's premier classical-musicstation" or "the home of

and they use labels

the most. Signs

buyers both, these

labels form a

labels are applied to the same recordings

in

"

country music." Record stores specialize much less. They are the great

meeting-grounds of musical categories,

saying "classical" and "folk" and "rock" map the

the store. For sellers and

efficient system. The same

wonderfully

buyer's route through

*I am grateful to William

Austin, Mary Hunter,William Matthews, and John Spitzer for their

readings of

this study at various stages.

2

THE JOURNALOF MUSICOLOGY

recordstores aroundthe

styles

different fields, there are

ment. Within a record store,

world. Despite

despite

the adaptations musiciansmaketo

other than their own,

the collaborationsof musicians from

relatively few recordings of questionableassign-

nothing can make a "popular" recording

"popular."

"popular"

composer.

constantly referto its

score. Its audience

"popular."

refersto what we call "folk

part of the music

"classical" or a "classical" one

crucial and obvious

ways. as a result, almost never hear it

perform it andthose who discuss it

is

by

Popular music, which in Romance

music,"

industry

or the "classics" in music also

audiences are

ven's symphoniestoday

for

centuriesbalances the audiencefor

top-forty songs,

largeness.

popular

do not often listen to one

The

ways

song

To be sure, "classical" music is differentfrom

and

large

elite.

Most

performedby

its

music in

of it was composedlong ago. Audiences,

Those who

But "classical" music has something in common with

in

Englishgenerally

languages

refersto the

products of that

which sells to the largest audience.The notion of the "classical"

large

audience. But the two

in different ways. The audiencefamiliarwith Beetho-

depends

any

on a

large

or at

time is select

compared to the audience

but the audience Beethoven has accumulatedin two

with its own kind of

symphony

But

many people

over andover in the courseof theirlives.

symphony

any popularsong in which listenersbecome familiarwith classical and

music are likewise balanced. Beethoven's most fervent devotees

over and over without a break, the

listen

way teenagerstypically listen to a new rock song.

to the same Beethoven

The rock

has anotherkind because it is

symphony has one kindof popularity becauseit is current; the

classic,

because it neverbecomes dated.

Classical music and history

composers The singing of the Psalms was

is a phenomenon

perpetuated in ancient Hebrew culture, as the singing of Homer was in

ancient Greek culture. Christianchurches maintainedtheir

chantfrommedievaltimes to modem. Butthe modern-day classics of West-

ern music are

is a system made up not of schools and religious bodies which incidentally

cultivatemusic, but

houses, orchestras, music publishers,journals,

that kind were not

repertory. Until the beginning

all devoted

principally to new

day). But aroundthe beginning of the nineteenth

petuating what they

their

From these works they eventually formed a new perpet-

The

perpetualfamiliarity

with ancient

of Beethovenand otherclassical

precedent.

repertories

of

unprecedented in the system which perpetuates them. That

primarily of musical institutions: conservatories,opera

and others. Institutionsof

developed for the purpose of

perpetuating a classical

fact, they were

of the nineteenth century, in

music (as popular-music institutionsare to-

centurythey began per-

would earlierhave discarded:the best recentworks in

repertories.

'In Japan, for instance,

the label classical

not to any venerable Japanese tradition.

(kurashikku) is applied to Western classical

music and

CLASSICALMUSIC AS POPULARMUSIC

3

uated

in literary

of

tions changed in nature.The publishing house of

instance, founded early in the

cation of collected editions at the

editionof Mozart starting in 1798, of Haydn in 1802, of Clementiin 1803)3;

by the end of the

catalog.

institutionsto

"promote the performance,

approved instru-

across Europe

in selecting and confirming

young turnedmusicalworksintoclassics. Orchestras,operahouses, and publishers

offered the same Beethoven

the nineteenth century as at its beginning. But whereas those

peared alongside other fairly new works at the beginning of the century, within a repertory which spanned at most fifty years, at the end of the centurythey formedthe oldest andmost classic layer of a repertory several layers deep, spanning more thana century. In the twentieth century the institutionshave become as dependent on theirclassical repertory as that repertory has always been on the institutions. Orchestral programming shows this dependence most clearly. Late in the

nineteenth century orchestral programsroutinelysampled all the layers of repertory, from the most classic to the newest. Today many orchestral programs leave out the new, but very few (except for special events or the programs of specializedorchestras)leave out the classics. The classics have become the one nutrient necessary to every orchestralmeal. Fromtheirmutual dependence the institutionsandtheir repertory have both derived stability. The institutions,along with their publics, upholdthe

repertory.

At this same time the word classic,

which had long been

the

and artistic use, was first applied to music.2

history

musical institutionsin the nineteenth century. Some establishedinstitu-

Breitkopf & Hartel, for

eighteenthcentury, pioneered in the publi-

beginning of the nineteenth century(its

To describethe formationof this

repertory wouldbe to give

century

Old-Mastereditions accountedfor much of its

principles whichled those

Otherinstitutionswerefoundedon novel

most perfect manner possible,

supply Society, foundedin Londonin 1813 in orderto

in the

themselves with musical classics. The Philharmonic

of the best and most

mental music," was soon joined by

In both

otherorchestralsocieties

a repertory of orchestralclassics.4

and old institutionsthe same unseen transformation

symphonies

and Mozart

operas

at the end of

works ap-

2A.L. Millin's Dictionnaire des beaux-arts(Paris, 1806) defines classic (classique) as "a term that is applied to composers who are generally admiredand who are regardedas authoritative"(trans- lated by Peterle Huray andJames Day in Music and Aestheticsin the Eighteenthand Early-Nineteenth Centuries, Cambridge, [1981], p. 293. In 1802 J.N. Forkel, listing what he considered the most

outstanding of Bach's keyboardworks, addedthat they "may be all consideredas classical (klassisch)" (On JohannSebastianBach's life, genius, and works,translated by A.C.F. Kollmann, 1820; reprinted in TheBach reader, Hans T. David and ArthurMendeleds., New York, [1966], p. 343). The editors

of

than 1836. 3See "Editions, historical" in The New GroveDictionaryof Music and Musicians. 4PhilharmonicSociety announcementquotedin Myles BirketFoster, Historyof the Philharmonic

Society of London: 1813-1912 (London:John Lane, the Bodley Head. 1912), p. 4. Informationabout

the forming of the classical orchestral repertory can be found in PhilipDowns,

Great Repertoire in the Nineteenth Century(Ph.D. dissertation,University of Toronto, 1970). and William Weber, "Mass Cultureand the Reshaping of EuropeanMusicalTaste, 1770-1870." in Inter- nationalReview of the Aestheticsand Sociology of Music VIII/1(June 1977), esp. pp. 18-19. Weber's subject is "the rise of the musical mastersas an early form of mass culture."

the Oxford English Dictionary found no application of the English word classical to music earlier

The Developmentof the

4

THE JOURNALOF MUSICOLOGY

in the nineteenth century:

Beethoven and Brahmsin the concert hall, Mozartand Verdi and Wagner

at the opera. At the same time, the institutionswhich first perpetuated this

repertory have themselves become classics. Orchestrasand

houses

century have become today's "world-class" or-

ganizations. Before the nineteenth century there were conservatories only

foundedin the nineteenth

choices they made for the classical

repertory

opera

trains performers of classical music

in

in conservatoriesfoundedfor that purpose in the nineteenth century. Before

couple of

generations

and journals from the nineteenth century flourish.5The institutionsof clas-

sical music not

embody the importance of that repertory.

only perpetuate the repertory; in their age and prestigethey

Italy; today every

Western

country

the nineteenth century music publishers

and music

journals a couple

of

were lucky to last a

years; today many publishers

*

*

*

The idea of a classical repertory is that certainold works should be ever-new. It is an idea foundedon rever-

kept ever-popular,ever-present,

ence for the past, but not necessarily on a moder scholarlyconception of

history. A culture may maintaina classical repertory without taking notice

of historicaldifferencesbetweenone workandanotherwithinit. A classical

repertory need not be kept up-to-date with worksfromthe

The

and performers did not sing the older chants

rep-

ertory as a whole was performeddifferently from place to place and from

within that

the time of the Renaissance,

periodjust past.

by

repertory of Gregorianchant,

for instance, was consideredclosed

the

repertorydifferently from the youngerchants, though

one period to the next. Moder

and newer

culture they served, those works were long unitedin

Much the same is still true of other

tories in Asia and folk

scholars may find ways to distinguish older

works within that repertory, but for the performers and for the

a common antiquity.

perpetuatedrepertories:courtlyreper-

repertories aroundthe

world.

The repertory

spell

of

of Western "classical music," however, was formed

nineteenth-centuryEuropean ideas of history: the arche-

reconstruction, the evolutionary idea of history

underthe

ological idea of history as

process formationof the the first

as a

of perpetualchange, the progressive idea of history as the

present. The Westernclassical repertory was assembled

scholarlyediting of classic scores,6whichmade perform-

alongside

ers thinkof old music as something restoredratherthanhanded down, the

product of a particular time and place ratherthan a perennial favorite. It

program-notes, which were ded-

icated as much to

introducing the new and

historically distinct

was

formed alongside

the rise of concert

establishing

the classic as to

which encouraged listenersto thinkof musicalworksas

5A list of music publishers,arrangedby country

6The first great

and

showing dates of operation, can be found in

Die Musik in Geschichteund Gegenwart

list of music periodicals

under"Musikverlag und Musikalienhandel."A comparable

can be found in TheNew Grove under"Periodicals," Section IV.

editoriallandmarkis the Bach Gesellschaftedition, begun in 1851.

CLASSICALMUSIC AS POPULARMUSIC

5

from each other.7The classical repertory, because it was thought of from

the start as a record of historical

to new works

which seemed to

The institutionsdevotedto the performance of the musicalclassics are

custodians;they and their publics admit changes and additionsto the rep-

ertory,

who offer new

repertory are for the most

admitting. Before the rise of the musical classics,

distinct profession

Haydn, running its repertory. But thereare

scholarsat first workedoutside of

tury, when they began

universitiesratherthan in

most music scholars today. Conservatoriesandorchestralsocieties and

embody the idea of historical development,

but they let outsiders

era houses, like museums,may

development, was open

embody

do not

the most

important musical changes.

but

they

propose

them. The

composers, scholars, and others and new ideas for the classical

outsidersto the institutionswhich do the

was not a and

Lully new works for

Music

works, rediscovered works,

from

part

composing

and

performing: in the days of Josquin

a musical establishmentmeant

only

tokensof that

composing relationship left today.

any to find institutional support,they found it

performinginstitutions,

institutions.In the nineteenthcen-

mostly in

support

and universities

op-

changes

and ad-

of the

give birthto new developments.

Nevertheless, those ditions to the

musical classics as a record of historical

existence activities, careers, and institutionswhich

maintain.The nineteenth-century ideaof the musicalclassics

other

ideas have

concert series, schools and summer institutes, publishers and recording

companies and journals.

feeding something

is so close that for

supportedby them. The relationship

ever, in a symbiotic

to the classical institutionsand being

institutionsdefine what kinds of

will

repertorythey

consider. Simply by conceiving

development, they

define into

they do not directly

required those

music" and "new music." Those

nineteenth-centuryideas, "early

developed

into institutionsof

theirown: performinggroups and

always developed, how-

These institutionshave

relationto those of classical music,

for

the

many purposes the three kinds of music are lumped

instance, the products of early music and

together. In record stores,

new music are considered "classical"; at most (in

are discrete sub-categories of

symbiotic relationship:early and new music differ from classical in the

functions

largeststores) they

"classical." But this classificationhides the

they perform,

and as a result they can show us much by contrast

aboutthe natureof classical music.

Classical music, early music, new music

It is no

help

here to

distinguishearly

and new music from classical

historical periods. The distinctionis not in

music as

the material, nor in how

or "classical," Webern "new"

different repertories or

history is being divided.

Mozart may be

"early"

or "classical," depending

on what the

7Percy Scholes, in The Oxford Companion to Music (10th ed., John Owen Ward, ed.) under "Annotated programmes," describes importantnineteenth-centurydevelopments in programnotes, as well as citing some eighteenth-century forerunners.

6

THE JOURNALOF MUSICOLOGY

and listeners are doing with them. Even Monteverdiis "clas-

performers

sical" when John Reardon sings Orfeo's "Vi ricorda,o boschi ombrosi"

on the childrens' television show, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

means of their audiencesis no

To distinguish the three categoriesby

more helpful. thatthe customersfor the threeare

suggests

The three

many

ofteneven the same programs on those stations.The music industry assumes

of the same concerthalls, andthe sameclassical-musicradio stations,

also sharethe same sectionsof record-review journals,

substantiallyoverlappinggroups.

The classificationof all threeas "classical" in recordstores

categories

that customersfor one of

in the othertwo thanin

themselves may thinkof

these categories are more likely

or rock or

country,

even

to be interested the customers

jazz

though

theirthree categories as quite

early, andnew

distinct.

The three categories-classical, of

it emerges

say

music-are betterdis-

tinguished as ways

that they are three distinct attitudestoward

musical

of these attitudes.Performersmove fromone realmto another-from clas-

sical piano to harpsichord to preparedpiano.

role to another,they have to change not just

relationto the music.

dialect, but a new method of acting. What, then, are the three attitudes

toward

repertoryspanning morethantwo centuries

and a

instrumentsand with

Bach and

late Bach on

that

they ignore

the score by itself tells them just what notes

to

for new-music

history

Now that CharlieParkerhas become "classic

sical

he recorded. Classical-music

as well as of text. Unlike monastic choirs or sitar

musicians or

performance for each work according to its place in history. They

however, reconstruct

performers do. Their music history

formancederive from reading the whole traditionas a map of expression,

history.

styles of per-

rendering theirentire

performing, or ratheras ways of thinking about

that

any

one

performer can have only

one

But as

they

move from one

theirhand

positions, but their

performance. Then

style.

That is not to

They

are like actorswho have to learnnot just a new

performing roles?

Bach and Bart6kon the same

to

style

that

belong

to these three

Classicalmusicianshave a

single

means

of production.They play

a single,

if

who

flexible, technique. By comparison

early-musicperformers,

increasingly choose to play early

different instruments,they resemble popular

repertory in a common present.

musicians in

say score with a particular

in

many

cases,

musicians

give

Thatis not to

history. Classical musicians perform a

history:

kind of faithfulnessto

perform,

as it does not do

performers.

for early-musicperformersor,

jazz,"

the

Reverence for the exact notes transmitted by

performers who regard their repertories as classic.

clas-

is characteristicof

performances which reproduceexactly

singers

performers

of traditionalballads,

performancestyles

"text" of a performance

are faithful to history in mattersof style

they

players or nightclub

right style

do

of

not,

decide the

archeologically, as early-music

is a tradition,and their

more than from close

examinationof extractsfrom one layer of

Their traditionis divided into

evolution and defined

answer to Classicism; Impressionism and Expressionism and Verismoare

Romanticismis an

style-periods, each representing a stage

of

by its relation to other stages.

CLASSICALMUSIC AS POPULARMUSIC

7

divergentoutgrowths of Romanticism.The tradition displays eachnew style as a step towardthe present, but not necessarily as an improvement on the

previous one. Instead, each style is regarded as an adaptation to the needs

of its historical

perfect in the works of the greatest masteror mastersof the period. Clas-

period,

while early-music and new-music performers aim to

of one period their due. The classical traditionis formed by the criterion

period,

an adaptation which

can be admiredat its most

sical-music performers concentrateon the few great mastersof each

give manycomposers

of genius.

Each genius embodies the style of his period in a specific and intense

rubatois a particular formof Romantic rhythmic freedom.

in the tradition.The

buthis precise

prepared for the palette:

way. The Chopin

The

classical Beethovenis derivedfromthe historical Beethoven,

characterhas been determinedthe

with an eye for the contrastit makes with all the others.

poser's particularexpression

terms:"Beethoven seizes

Mozartis moredisinterestedand

a

style so clearly

It is

display of individual

genius, like the style-period, is defined by a place

way

a color is

In fact, a com-

comparative

is most naturally described in

the classical

uponyou: he is more

poetical."8

style,

tragic and oratorical, while If the historical composer was

composer is a musical

a personality.

personalitycreating

precisely

The

styles

damperpedal?

stretching

style

of

a musical

defined by contrastthatit takeson theforce of

styles into the expression of

performerdisplays

a classical

pianists

But their

the classical performer's task-and achievement-to turnthe

greatpersonalities. are formed with the aid of

historicalevidence. Classical

about Beethoven's piano-playing:

use the

a tradition

himself did not know. The classical style of

thoven's

are interestedin what can be learned

did he break strings? how much did he

is to

playing

Beethovenis not Bee-

distinguish Beethovenwithin

from Bach to Bart6k, a traditionwhich Beethoven

purpose

playing,

but a style aboutBeethoven.

style by mapping

their

Performersarrive at a

whole tradition;they

they

they have

have to learn their way aroundthe whole traditionbefore

can render

any

also

also learned

admissionto conservatory,graduation from conservatory, minorand major

competitions-they

period

right distinctions are passed on from teacher to student:the

styles is a traditionin itself. Because the

each

traditions, if not in

perform

the same halls.

one style. They have not learnedClassical restraintunless they have

learnedRomantic passion, or the rawnessof Verismounless

Impressionist

refinement. At

every stage of their training-

are tested on their

ability to perform worksfrom every

distinctions.These

of the

repertory,demonstrating the rightstylistic

styles

every program,

on the same

styles

mapping have no existence without

other, performers and performingorganizationsrange over theirentire

of

then in the course of a season. They

in

all

instruments, with the same techniques,

But this uniformity, which would stifle early-musicper-

8Amiel's journal: theJournalintime of Henri-FredericAmiel, translated by Mrs.

HumphreyWard,

in Mozart in

2d ed. (London: Macmillan, 1891), p. 40, May 14, 1853. Quoted by Retrospect, rev. ed. ([London]: Oxford UniversityPress, [1970]), p. 30.

A. Hyatt King

8

THEJOURNALOF MUSICOLOGY

formance, is what

of many times and places are

same white museum walls, so

style

gives life to each style in classical

performance. Works

displayed like so manypaintingshung on the thatthe juxtapositionhighlightsexactly those

characteristicswhich the performers have cultivated.

Early-music performers differ from classical performers in the way

think about

history and style. Style-periods("the Baroque")may be

they

too large for their precise needs, individual geniuses

given the kinds of stylistic

history is a residuumof times and

compare their findings to those from other sites, but they do not need to

map the whole residuumin orderto establish something about their site.

They resurrectthe instrumentsavailableto the composer of a

would have takenfor

granted. They

place

work

and the techniques of performance thatthe composer

concentrate,that is, on exactly those mattersof time and

In their terms, the classical

performer makes Mozart sound like Brahms. But

of artistic personality on whichclassical musicians

concentrate.The

perform

Mozartlike

in eighteenth-centurycondition, articulatedand

contemporary treatises, Mozartno longer

formancedoes

performersmay have intuitionsabouteach composer's artistic personality,

buteven the

not necessarilydistinguish Mozartfrom Haydn.Early-music

too narrowa focus,

informationavailable to them. Their music

places. Working at one site, they may

given

that the classical

performerneglects.

early-musicperformers

may neglect the question

any

early-music method is,

other

in fact, to discoverhow to

composer of his timeand place. Played

on instruments

light of

per-

ornamentedin the

soundslike Brahms,but the

intuitions generated at a fortepiano differfromthose generated

at a Steinway. Early-musicperformers reconstructlost performingstyles. They have

to decide questions

down to them,

classical performers do not need. They

lowing

ing acquainted with

then immersedthemselves in it, they may learnto thinkin it, so

can

sing and play are stylistically

performers,

have to learnnot to

even more than to other musicians. Like all musicians, they

passed

not even notice. They have to considerevidence which

which classical

performers,accepting

what is

may

are liable to be chastised for "al-

process first reconstructeda

on in the

of becom-

style and

that they

every

momentwhether they

nature to early-music

themselves

personalopinions too early

the music."9 But having

without asking themselvesat

correct. Style needs to be second

"worry at it like a dog

with a bone," as ThurstonDart

exhortedthem at the end of a book

tion.10But early-musicperformers also need to make style seem naturalto

their listeners,

listeners' attentionto it. Ratherthan

neutral background,early-musicperformers tend

more and more to con-

display a variety of styles against a

on one style, one small spot in time

setting (performing not only

and place, which they display

centrate, at least for each program,

surveyingearly-music bones of conten-

while classical musicianshave a greater need to draw their

in a consistent

9PeterWilliams, "J.S. Bach's Well-tempered Clavier:a New Approach"(Part2) in EarlyMusic,

11/3 (July 1983),

336.

'?TheInterpretationof Music (New York and Evanston: HarperColophon Books, 1963), p. 168.

CLASSICALMUSIC AS POPULARMUSIC

on the

style).

style:

itself

If

right instruments,but, if they When this concentrationis most

at all.

early

music

way

work its

may

can, in a churchor hall its effect is to

complete,

a style

in the right

submerge so thatit does not present

performers

the performers drawthe listenerinto

as style

work itself free of

style-consciousness, new music

roots for

may to discover. A the

composer like an old one, is rootedin a first

know the

poser.

and connoisseursturnto them for

close in time or

formers,along with whateverthe composer and

composer's

outlook and

of

in the

how to interpret a score or whose

itively

ance

towardit. A new work has

stylistic

performer'sexperience with the

is invaluablein

finding

music which has influenced

style. A new work,

Many new-music

the new work's

composer's time and place.

performances,especially

composer,

When these

performances, are given by performers who

with the com-

who share the work's time and

place

performances are recorded, other performers,scholars,

on the

stylistic authenticity. These others, less collaborationwith the

guarantee that authenticity.

place, rely

to

per-

performers sharein musical

But these sources

in fact have limited the considerationof style as such

experience,

authenticitymay

preparation of the

performance. Performerswho can askthe

terms of style-"I

style

between

composer

it intu-

composer'sguid-

meantthis section to sound

composer

like that." At thatmoment

backgroundprepares them to do

stylistic maps.

The

and

have little need to botherwith

may be expressed

in

jazzier"-but

is

any

short-circuitedthe

style

discussion of

performers is

a new-music

momentthe composersays "I taste.

composer

displacedby When listeners other than the

work. The difficulty

is

come to

judge

tell the performance

performance, another stylisticambiguity arises:how to

from the

conclusion of a

in the audience graciously attemptby outstretchedor

deflect the audience's

about the

performance has influencedtheirideas or how a differentone could

them.

role

made visible in the typical ritual at the

composer somewhere

clapping

hands to

performance:performeronstage and

applause

but they have little

toward each other. Listeners may think

way

of

telling

how the

change

what

style of the work,

The difficulty has many varieties, depending, for instance, on

improvisation or prepared sound plays

in the

compare

the

performancethey hear

by saying

performance. But in some

performances

symphony

form it is characteristicof new music because there are few

of a work to compare. Listenerswho go to hear a Beethoven

can

Conductorsof classical music do

introducenumbers

audiencesare in fact

very like," in what makes a

Kirkpatrick was the only pianist playing

it hadno

play it,

the work from the style of

of the work's

work is now classic.

"It

to many othersin theirmemories.

not, like popular singers and leaders,

like this," but classical

goes something

interestedin what a

performance is "something

when John

given version special.

version;

In the

years

the Concord Sonata, there was

style.

Now thatother

performers

the

style

of

can use their ideas

performances. In other words, the

nothingspecial

abouthis

listenerscan

compareperformances and so distinguish

any

one

performance.They

old andnew

style to judge

10

THE JOURNALOF MUSICOLOGY

*

*

*

If classical music,

earlymusic,

andnew musicall entaildifferent ways

also entail different ways of listening.

of thinking about performance,they

Justas a single

a

single to classical music is

listening

to

performer can move

fromone

way

of

performing to another, to another.

Listening

listenercan move from

dealing

to new music is

one way of listening

with

something

of a familiar nature, while

dealing with

with

something unfamiliarand listening

the

early music is dealing

The

familiarity

somethingpresentedunfamiliarly.

of classical music comes not simply from

hearing

same works

Classical

uous with the

ments.

a modem continuumof styles. They accumulate

and places

other

listeners feel that FrankSinatra belongs to them. Not that Beethoven can

Sinatra can; he needs more media-

they can seem

Beethoven, dissolving the

tion. But

belong

them. Many listeners feel that

contin-

many times, but from hearing them presented as

music as tradition by

making

the

of

tradition.

past with new instru-

performerspresent

They

present. They make old music compatible

convertthe

changingmusic-makingpractices

as the common

hearing

heritage

music as

genius

listenerin

the past

many

into

times

to

from

of modem Westerncivilization.

Listeners

to

any

traditionhearit as somethingbelonging

Beethoven belongs to them, just as

quite the way

provide it. PerformingBeethoven,

performers can

to have Beethoven's

separates

spirit. They

can standfor

Beethoven from the present and making Beethoven

seem to be his own performer. Then listenersfeel that Beethoven speaks

to them.

time which

Classical composers, however warmlypersonified, speak a timeless,

they have spo-

speak equally, or almost equally, to

universal message. ken to

listenersin

many ized in an internationalmusical idiom.

because they speak

theircultureto receive.

They speak of listeners. They

to modem listenersbecause

generations

countriesbecause theirnative accentshave been natural-

They speak

to individuallisteners

a message which hundredsof

millions are preparedby

On the whole, the message

of the classics is a

powers

ways.

of comfort.

message to discomfortas well as to

When they were new, the

to discomfort

comfort. But by the time they became classics, their

were defused, while their powers to comfort had, if

powers to discomfortare defused in several

targetdisappears: no one can and so audiences smile at it.

of Spring

comfort:the Wagnerian revolution may have

practices to history, but now Wagner sits beside Rossini in history and in

the repertory. Classical statusitself transformsdiscomfort:Monteverdi'sor

Rossini's musical

times can The Rite

Familiarity softens discomfort:how many

anger anymore,

composer's original

classics had

powers

anything,grown. The

A

feel threatened by Figaro's

shock? Time and history accommodatedis-

consigned

have become like

in the most

Schonberg's boldest

ument, stirring

be played or a Verdi liberation-operastaged

progressions

inscriptions on a mon-

longer inflammatory. The Revolutionary Etudecan

oppressedplace in

but no

CLASSICALMUSIC AS POPULARMUSIC

11

the worldwithoutfearthatit will incite any disturbance.The classics belong

to the status

individual listeners,

quo, the way "Ring

belong

aroundthe

to the authoritiesas well as to

rosy" belongs

to childhood.

The classics

and not just to the musical authorities, which conferredclassical status in

the first

part

approvedmusic;

culturecannotbe subversiveor

Still, the

listeners include not

only but also some of those most deeply involved in it.

scholarswho insist on

lost. Thus, Andrew Porterwrites of Verdi's Un ballo in maschera that

"Serious opera has always been a political art, and it was not for nothing

that Bourbon censorship forbadethe performance of 'Ballo.' "'

sistence

but no matterwhat he writes

or operacompaniesdo, Verdi's voice can never again be

regime, any morethan "Ring aroundthe rosy" can

may encourageoperacompanies of real and recognizable human behavior,"

His in- as a drama

place, musical ones. The

but to the social and political authoritieswhich support the

classics offer comfort to the individuallistener in

to the treasuresof Western

illegitimate; it cannotlower anyonesocially.

because they belong to the authorities.Classical music is

it is politically and socially safe. Listening

politics of comfort make many listeners uncomfortable.These

some who do not like classical music

They

anyway,

include music

remembering the powers

which classical music has

to

stage

it

"seriously

again

dangerous to any evoke the

plague.

classics sound unfamiliar.Har-

noncourt's

perer's, not only because in the late-twentieth century it happens to be

discontinuity betweenthe past

and the present. This way of performing makes Bach belong to his own

being timeless, im-

mortal, and universal, the burdenof being classic. It removes him from a tradition belonging to listeners today and returnshim to a traditionwhich

those listenerscan

traditionto which Bach

reconstructionsservethat

is from music-

makingtoday. Early-musicperformance makes the classics sounddated.

the classics into the past, early music draws attentionto

listeners can tell how remote

Early-musicperformance makes the

ways

of performing Bach soundsunfamiliar compared to Klem-

newer, but because it is based on an idea of

time, not to all time. It frees him from the burdenof

only imagine. Early-musicperformers cannotrevive the

belonged;they too can

only imagine it. But their

imagining.Hearing Bachin these reconstructions,

music-making in Bach's day

early-musicperformance soundsmore like the heir of

by

con-

By pushing

past.

their

Purcellthan like the forerunnerof Mendelssohn.Classical music,

trast, drawsthe earliestworksin its traditiontowardthe laterones. Classical

musicians

vanced for his

forward-looking in the music of the past;early music trainsthem to notice what made music traditionalin its own time.

time. Classical music trains listeners to notice what was

Handel like Mendelssohnand so make him sound ad-

Handelin

perform

The manifestly unmoder performancepractices of early music draw