Furtwängler - Beethoven's 9th Symphony - For Hitler's Birthday (19th April 1942)
Classical music is counterculture. I threw that out there in passing regarding the Alice Cooper narrated Peter and the Wolf. Let’s look at it for a little while more.
It is always important to define your shit first so here it is: a way of life and set of attitudes opposed to or at variance with the prevailing social norm.
It is difficult to identify one social norm these days. What can be said is that going to a concert where you sit quietly and don’t even clap until the end — that can be said to be not normal.
Being able to pronounce Penderecki, Gorecki or Dvorak — that’s not normal. Understanding the appropriate use of “Brava, bravo, or bravi” is not normal.
Considering your cultural experience to be superior to every single television show ever created is not normal. That’s the truth, by the way. There has never been and never will be a television show that surpasses a Mozart concerto, a Beethoven symphony, or a Verdi opera.
This is where the counterculture comes in. One social norm at this moment is to not say anything is superior to anything else. Let me explain why it is important to cling to this idea of superiority.
First off, it’s important because that’s what Hitler would do. I just thought I’d put that in there because anytime anyone, especially a white male, starts talking about superiority, Hitler is present. I can feel his presence even now.
Now that we’ve paid homage to Hitler, let’s move on. It’s important to cling to the idea of having a superior cultural experience via classical music because it was created outside the grasp of commercialism.
Commercialism is the social norm. Trick! I said it was hard to define a single social norm but I was lying. Commercialism is the social norm in our society. Period. It is not slowing down. In fact it is picking up speed and it is destroying not just classical music but anything that can’t coax a dollar out of 100 million people every month.
It is nigh unto impossible to get anything which is authentic in our culture. Authenticity is important because people will pay a premium for it. See how that works? Commercialism destroys authenticity because there is always a price tag attached to any endeavor.
Most classical music was written outside the confines of commercialism. It was written under imperialism, socialism, communism, fascism, authoritarianism, and almost every other “ism” we can think of except commercialism.
This makes it counter to and superior to anything produced under commercialism. Commercialism degrades the quality of all things in order to appeal to the widest possible audience.
Classical music is counterculture in the United States because it is not of this culture and it was not created for the masses. The miracle of classical music in the U.S. is that we common folk have access to it.
Here’s the catch: most of us common folk aren’t interested.
The other catch? This topic is much bigger than these 500 words but commercialism won’t let me keep going.