Opinion: Wake up! Classical music is not for relaxing

Posted on: September 17, 2014

On Tuesday (9/16) at Minnesota Public Radio, Patrick Castillo, responding to Sheila Regan’s August 26 post at MPR entitled “Ten times when classical music can help you relax,” writes, “Regan’s well-intentioned article widely misses the mark in assessing the value of classical music…. Consider the psychological complexity of, say, Haydn’s Symphony no. 80: how Franz Joseph, with a preternatural deftness, combines fire and brimstone and light and delight into one eloquent musical thought.… This music isn’t designed to relax. It exists to titillate. To terrify. To annihilate…. But assigning classical music the function of background music is a benevolent equivalent to the toxic misperception that classical music is boring—which anyone who’s given the repertoire a fair, open-eared shake knows it isn’t.… Hey, you might not like Webern. I get it.… But whether you find it exquisite or excruciating, your honest, open ears will fail to find this music boring…. We need the advocates of our art form to grab us by the collar, excitedly, urgently, You’ve got to hear this-ly—not with the meek suggestion that perhaps one might enjoy some wallpaper Mozart while putting the dishes away.” Castillo is a composer and former artistic administrator of the Music@Menlo chamber music festival and institute and former senior director of artistic planning of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Posted September 17, 2014