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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000077.txt from 1997/09

From: "Edwin V. Lacy" <>
Subj: Re: charges of elitism in music
Date: Tue, 2 Sep 1997 12:43:06 -0400

On Tue, 2 Sep 1997, Frank Garcia wrote:

> The unfortunate thing is that many of us who know and "understand"
> Berg's music look down our noses at those who do not.

Actually, what I observe is just the opposite: people who claim to
understand and appreciate what might be called informal, commercial or
"low-brow" music criticizing those who prefer more substantial,
complicated or sophisticated music. These people throw out such charges
as "elitism," "ivory tower," "snobbery," etc, and feel quite superior in
their anti-elitism. After conveniently grouping together everyone who
enjoys a type of music which they themselves cannot or choose not to
understand, they feel that they have satisfactorily settled that question,
and they no longer have to think about such difficult issues as musical

> It is a shame that the opinions of some of the teachers or pontificators
> on this list are so conservative and narrow. As for the snobby and
> limited writers about this subject, I'm afraid it's too late to learn
> and appreciate all that the world of music has to offer. As they say,
> you can't teach an old dog...

See what I mean?

How is it that some think that snobbery in favor of good music is evil,
while snobbery in favor of less artistic music is a virtue?

Personally, I refuse to accept that I am less worthy because I appreciate
Mahler and Coltrane more than Welk or Bilk. Others can revel in their
negative feelings about quality in music all they want - they can't
diminish the value of great music, and they can never cause someone else
to prefer what appears to them to be music of less exalted intentions if
that person has already discovered for themselves what they consider to be
music of greater quality or expressiveness.

For anyone interested in pursuing this subject, I can recommend a book,
out-of-print for several years, called "Anti-intellectualism in American
Life," by Richard Hofstadter, published by Knopf, 1063, 1966 and 1974.

Ed Lacy
Dr. Edwin Lacy University of Evansville
Professor of Music 1800 Lincoln Avenue
Evansville, IN 47722 (812)479-2754

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