Jose A. Mosqueda | The Poly Post

Is classical music dead?

By Charlize Althea Garcia, Aug. 29, 2023

A sea of grey hair floods the seats of the concert hall, some balding some not. Everyone’s in their Sunday best with a glass of champagne in hand. Diseased coughs, obstructive yawns, haughty conversations that seem monolith in nature echo from wall to wall.       

The dialogue of the concert hall was soon interrupted by the conductor’s baton. With the baton’s rise, a breath launches the arrival of the beautiful sound that is a symphony orchestra. And with that, the dominating elements that cloud the beauty of classical music is silenced … just for a moment.

Classical music is far from the realms of relevancy. Seldom do we hear the actual genre itself let alone the topic of it. Although now it can be referenced, as a YouTube video probably called, “one hour of calming classical music for studying.” Though it has its own beauty, it’s comedic to see the culmination of the genre’s identity in its current state.

It’s inevitable. No matter the impact or the artistic genius: just as humans, art surrenders to the test of time. Audiences differ within each decade and century which ultimately influences its vitality.

Jose A. Mosqueda | The Poly Post

Western classical music can be seen as running its due course. Albeit it can be seen co-mingling with other work and eventually influencing other genres of music. In the 21st century we see its influence in film and video game music naturally, displaying a narrative, as does most classical pieces.

Though the remnants of the genre can be seen in various media platforms, there is still somewhat of a collective indifference to it in today’s culture.

The obvious factor in its dilution is simply time. It is after all, in plain English, “old music” as referred by most nowadays. But that’s not the whole extent of the problem, age, it’s that “old” is being associated with status.   

In a world that demands progression, classical music is stuck in the roots of traditionality.   

It’s no secret that the identity of the genre appeals to the high class. The world around it and the world within it have a foundation rooted in privilege. To even touch the possibility of having a seat in a professional orchestra, one must have an education gifted to them by God himself also known as chance. To sit in a concert hall, one must endure the stuffiness and snobbery of the highbrow characters around them.   

It is an amalgamation of different factors and demands within the environment that contribute to the elitism in the music.

Classical music is not accessible because, I’ve come to realize, it doesn’t want to be.

It’s unfortunate to see the missed opportunity of appreciation because of its pretentiousness. I don’t blame anyone who has disregarded it. With a history so rooted in systemic wrongdoings and the lack of diversity currently, it’s a wonder at times how it’s still surviving.

But the beauty speaks for itself. Composers like Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Beethoven and others have no doubt produced music that has expressed human emotion in the most sensationalistic way. Certain pieces will make you relive memories, reminisce about times of falling in love and heartbreak, mourn what once was, picture the future. It will make your heart swell, give you chills, make you cry. It’s hard to see and hear one of their most beloved pieces and not have your ears and eyes fall in love. Beauty is subjective, but classical music is close to being classified as an objective beauty.

Ears evolve, and I believe it evolves to the music within its time. Looking at the music we have today, it’s safe to say we are no longer in the realms of the genre. It now takes an open ear and open mind to even acknowledge it. To love it, it takes an inclination that is so rare nowadays.

Will this eventually equate to death? Maybe not. And even then, I wouldn’t classify it as a clinical death. There’s still brain activity; it’s still breathing. Is there a heartbeat? Maybe. A very slow one. It will take a surge of passion, understanding and complete reformation to give back its lively pulse once again.

Although, reincarnation is promised: what is old, will be new.

Feature image by Jose A. Mosqueda

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