Do you wonder what I mean by "de-mythologizing music?" Classical music is full of myth, religiose dogma, pastoral legend and mostly a lot of irrelevant nonsense ~ repeated by pompous music critics and narrowly highbrow radio announcers who can't convey a passion for much of anything. Oftentimes, the observations made about classical music seem about as fresh as a musty Victorian anecdote and are relayed in a hopelessly baroque, perfumey prose style that all but died out with Jane Austen. If you've ever read a concert review or advance feature about classical music and wondered why it doesn't read like anything else in the newspaper, why the writing is injected with more saccharine and syrup than insight or spirit, why the tone can't escape being sanctimonious and worshipful while it strains to be analytical, then you know what it's like to suffer a classical music hack attack.
Personally, I think there has to be a better way to convey a love of classical music to people who are genuinely curious about it, whether they're old hands or new initiates. The best commentators on classical music respect the intelligence and skepticism of their readers. They describe the aural and visual elements of music so as to make it tangible and real. They reveal a broad historical and cultural context that connects music to the great ideas of its time and our own. They don't feel the need to go out on a limb with preposterously exaggerated judgements or tow the line of gratuitous iconoclasm. Nor are they so intellectually overdrawn on their accounts that they frequently state the obvious and represent it as insight.
When I created this website, I wanted a repository for some of my own writings on music. But I also thought it would be fun to expose the pitfalls of bad writing on music, the first and worst of which is an eager predisposition to mythologize the music.
Below, you'll find my quick and painless primer on classical (music) mythology. There are also transcripts of a few of my old Q&As with musicians, a shelf from my feature article library, and some links to other music sites. In addition, you can check out a bio on the composer I most consider to be a personal hero, a man whose industrious breadth of interests remains an inspiring antidote to the stifling narrowness of specialization and whose enduring achievements in at least one area make a convincing argument for following your passions.
~ David BŁndler