Classical Music and Elitism Again?

I’ve addressed this issue numerous times, and I’m surprised that the concept is still around, but evidently people think there is something elitist about classical music. Now the American Record Guide reprints an article from 13 years ago:

A reprint of the article “Critical Convictions: Does Quality Have a Future?” which appeared in the March/April 1997 issue of American Record Guide. The article discusses how quality is becoming something that only the rich people can afford in the U.S., specifically in terms of classical music. It says that educated people are more likely to respond to classical music because other people are not exposed to it. The author believes that 5 to 10 percent of the population has a taste for quality and will respond to a great symphony.

If you have an Internet connection, you can listen to classical music. If you are in one of the areas served by a full-time classical station, such as WRR, you can listen to classical music. If you have access to a public library, you can listen to classical music. If you have a PBS station, you can listen to classical music.

Yes, there are people who don’t fall into those categories. People living in rural areas, or areas with inadequate Internet service, or who cannot afford Internet service or a computer, people who do not have cars and live too far from a public library, people who do not own a HDTV and did not get a converter box, and people whose local radio does not broadcast NPR or classical music.

Man is talking to a woman seated at the help desk of the public library.

New Yorker Cartoon
Ed Fisher

For the people who have access, it’s time to expose them to classical music so that they can take advantage of its benefits. For the people who do not have access, there are many other things that they don’t have access to that they need in order to participate fully in society. Because classical music has been eliminated from the public schools, it’s up to us to make sure that we can make classical music accessible to everyone.

I don’t believe that only 5-10% of the population has a taste for quality. Anyone can learn to develop a taste for quality, not only rich or educated people. It’s not classical music that is elitist — it’s people such as the author of this article.

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