Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Popular music

Perhaps its a sign that I'm now a bit into my third-decade that the radio captures more of my attention, earlier this week they had a fascinating story about Andre Rieu and Classical music. Its in some ways the same argument that has been made about modern adaptions of Shakespeare (how they perhaps make people seek to explore more). The question they were asking was how many people who would go to Andre's shows in Australia would go and listen to the Philharmonic Orchestra (or equivalent), not really a debate about his music per se.

I don't think Andre is a new phenomena as The Three Tenors / The Ten Tenors / Bond and Ill Divo are examples of musicians that have tried to bridge the 'genre-gap'. I'm not convinced that Andre will drive people to hear the 'local' orchestra, as its him they are going to see, rather than the music ~and perhaps this is why people look down on Andre ~ because its about him; more than the music.

Anyway just some random thoughts; and I one thing I would like to do in the new year is visit the opera house to hear an orchestra rather than contemporary music, as I've done previously.

:: Post-script: Related to this is the furor that the British reality TV show [X-Factor] has caused with recording a version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. With the writer of this article asking --
what is it that makes Burke's (the X Factor contestant) version inauthentic and Buckley's authentic? And why be so depressed over the X Factor version, when the song has been exposed to mainstream audiences via its use on both The OC and Shrek soundtracks? Should we be happy that he song has been exposed to new audiences.

As the article says, Buckley's sales are going up in the vain hope that it will displace the version by Burke. (Driven by facebook groups).


  1. Hello Duncan. I appreciate your questions and ponderings. One thing I would like to correct or add if I may, is about the assumptions those who listen to and enjoy André Rieu's music .. Do not, have not and will not enjoy "pure" classical music. That they do not support their local symphonies and orchestras. Myself, I go to Andre Rieu concerts for the music.
    It is nothing short of Hubris for anyone to feel only they can claim what music is worthy or not to others. Giving a title of Classical or Pure is subjective. In Mozart's day his music was Modern, was it not? Can we all imagine those who at the time felt to be worthy (of what I've never found out) we should only listen to classical music and then to make it even narrower, only local classical music? Why, thank the heavens there was no radio back then, whatever would they do? Global? The Shame!
    Andre's fans run the gauntlet. I am certain there are those who have never heard a classical piece of music in their lives, other than what Andre Rieu plays. There are far more fans such as myself who have studied music from a young age and feel no need to put Andre's music in any genre other than enjoyable. (I play piano - from age 6, viola, trumpet & guitar). I can tell you, I only play the music I wish to play. I play for me. The music must speak to me or I could not care less what genre, what category, how popular, how difficult, how flashy, how, I play for me. I believe Andre does the same; only in his case others enjoy it as well. And therein lays the problem I see. Other artists not wanting Andre's music to be appreciated. It comes down to jealously.
    Andre Rieu Fans appreciate a broad spectrum of music. Local and Worldly. I would dearly love to have seen Yehudi Menuhin perform. To this day I get Goosebumps to hear him. Fritz Kreisler and Ida Haendel are amongst my favorites as well. For piano, Jo Huijts. Yes, the first pianist for Andre's JSO. I am able to isolate him in recordings and it is as if he plays only to me. I could name piano greats, but you have the idea I believe.
    Local Orchestras starving for money need to look at their offerings. Speak to those who are hungry for good music, and provide it to them. Perhaps over simplified, but an honest thought.
    André began his training on the violin at the age of five, eventually studying at the Conservatoire Royal in Liège and the Conservatorium Maastricht, where his teachers included Jo Juda and Herman Krebbers. From 1974 to 1977, he attended the conservatoire in Brussels, where he studied under André Gertler. Andre won Premier Prix.
    And yet, his critics want to tell him what music he is to play. They wish to insult that he earns a living by bringing music to people. I earn a living at my job, should I too be insulted?
    How can there be such jealousy and hate, in a musical world where I hear only love?
    My personal thought about supporting local orchestras, choirs, high school bands and so forth...YES. It should be done, I hope it is done. But that has nothing to do with Andre Rieu. That is an individual choice one must make.

  2. Hi, thanks for your comment. I was not really trying to dispute that people may like both traditional classical music and Andre Rieu, (or that there's anything wrong if they do), as I am sure that there are many who like both.

    Though I do think it would be great if hearing Andre Rieu opened a door for others to walk through (not because its better music - but because its more music).

    Having said all that - its not really in Andre's control, but its not in dispute that he is introducing classical (and other) music to so many people.

    On the point of pure music though - that's the point I think i was trying make with the piece at the end on Hallelujah - I like Buckley's version, I like Cohen's version (and the one performed from Shrek), and i think its great that more people get to hear it.