Opinion: Clearing up listeners’ “classical music insecurity complex”

Posted on: April 23, 2018

“I was talking about music recently with a friend who [told] me that although he loved classical music, when he listened to it he wasn’t able to perceive anything other than his own emotional reactions,” writes Miles Hoffman in Thursday’s (4/18) New York Times. “What my friend was expressing was merely a symptom of a common affliction, one that crosses all intellectual, social and economic classes: the Classical Music Insecurity Complex…. [My friend] perceives … tempo, volume, pitch and instrumentation. He perceives melodies, harmonies and rhythms… His ‘problem’ isn’t perception—it’s description…. After most classical music concerts you can swing your program around from any spot in the lobby and hit a dozen perfectly capable and intelligent people issuing apologetic disclaimers: ‘Boy, I really loved that—but I’m no expert.’ … Do we have to know the Latin names of flowers … to be moved by the beauty of a garden? No. Do we have to know about blocking schemes … to be excited when our team scores a touchdown? No. But … these things … add to our appreciation…. The Classical Music Insecurity Complex is a barrier of discomfort. Experience, exposure and familiarity play critical roles in helping to lower that barrier.”

Posted April 23, 2018