Mauceri: What is classical music, really?

Posted on: November 13, 2013

“I want to offer a few general thoughts about music—what we call classical music and what it actually is,” writes John Mauceri in Monday’s (11/11) Huffington Post. “It easily accepts external influences…. Hindemith, Weill, Copland, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Prokofiev, Bartok, Shostakovich—they all ended up in a very different place from their bang-on-a-can, yell-in-your-face entrance onto the international stage…. This amazing language is ours—and everyone knows that harps are for heaven, trombones are for hell, horns tell us a character is a hero, the trumpet announces the king, a bassoon makes us laugh, and a saxophone is not OK, even if you are married.… D-minor received its unique quality when Mozart wrote an opera about the death of a father who returns from the dead. Once demarcated, it was the inevitable key of mystery for Beethoven’s last symphony, the key of the supernatural storms that begin both The Flying Dutchman as well as The Valkyrie, the opening chord of Strauss’ Elektra … and the key of the Battle to End All Things in Howard Shore’s score to The Lord of the Rings—The Return of the King.… These are not accidents. They are our great, collective language called classical music.” Mauceri is former chancellor of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and founding director of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

Posted November 13, 2013