An Earnest Request

Everybody knows not to leave cell phones on at a concert. Or at least everyone has heard reminders before concerts. What could have possibly created such a disturbance before the noisy things were invented? Here’s a note printed on the front of the Glyndebourne program of 1935: “Patrons are earnestly requested not to flash TORCHES during the Performances. It is aggravating to the rest of the audience but intolerable to the Artists. It is much worse than ‘walking behind the bowler’s arm’ at cricket.” Now that we know that, what annoyed audiences before the invention of the flashlight?

How did you come to love music?

My father has always loved his record collection. Some of my earliest memories are the records he played whenever he had some leisure time. (I’ll date myself. The earliest were 78s, for whatever it’s worth.) He loves classical music and the popular music of  his generation–mostly big band jazz. Since I grew up with those sounds in the house–if not constantly, then very frequently–I suspect that’s why I grew up loving classical music and big band jazz. What about other classical music lovers–and lovers of popular music from before your own generation? How did you come to love it? From … Continue reading

Welcome to Musicology for Everyone

I’m not sure when I first heard the word musicology, but it must have been some time before I had any interest in pursuing it seriously. I majored in composition and trombone performance as an undergraduate. I have a masters in musicology, but started to work on a doctorate in performance before I decided musicology was a better fit. When I started college, I had a double major in music and history. (And yes, my music major was a double major, too. Kids! Think they can do it all! What a glutton for punishment!) The history major did not survive … Continue reading

When "classical" music was "popular"–Part 2

My first article on this topic explored how Rossini’s music was considered “popular” music in the sense of being somehow inferior to “classical” music, although it is now regarded as “classical” music. This one will explore the narrowing of gaps between social strata that resulted in a new style of music, which music history has come to regard as the Classical period. It was among the most truly popular music of all times, in the sense of appealing to audiences that crossed geographical and social boundaries (not to mention time!) At least from the late Middle Ages through the end … Continue reading

When “classical”; music was “popular”–Part 1

Everyone knows that Rossini’s operas are part of “classical music,” but it hasn’t always been that way. During Rossini’s lifetime, he was widely reviled by lovers of “classical” music, as were many other operatic composers. One writer in a French journal proclaimed that there were only two kinds of musicians: classicists and Rossinists. Like nearly everyone else who wrote for the major journals, he was a Rossini-disdaining classicist. I have put “classical” in quotation marks, but when that French critic used it, it meant something very specific. For one brief, shining moment in music history (the late eighteenth century), everyone … Continue reading