Dennis Prager has really pressed one my buttons with this one.
The Left — meaning progressives, not necessarily liberals — loathes the fact that conservativism preserves the past. That is why “change” is one of the most cherished words in the Left’s vocabulary. There is nothing more threatening or, perhaps more important, boring, to a leftist than preserving the past. “New” and “change” provide leftists meaning and excitement.
As one involved in the music world (I periodically conduct orchestras), I have always been struck by how important it is to orchestra CEOs, music professors and especially music critics that as much “new” music be played as possible. If a conductor prefers to program the classics, he is deemed a reactionary, while conductors who regularly program new music are heroes in the music world.
Music critics rarely discuss the question that preoccupies conservatives: Is this new piece of music good, let alone nearly as good as the classics? What matters to music critics is that the music is new — and, these days, that it was composed by a nonwhite person, ideally a woman.
Conservatives ask whether new music is good enough to warrant being played. They are preoccupied with excellence, not with newness or “change.”
This difference between conservatives and leftists/progressives applies to virtually every realm of life.
It explains the decision of the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of English to remove a large mural of Shakespeare and replace it with a mural of a gay female poet of color. No one in his or her right mind thinks that this poet is the equal of Shakespeare. But the members of the Penn English Department are not concerned with literary excellence. Shakespeare’s picture wasn’t replaced because his writing was surpassed. He was replaced because he was male, white and straight. And most of all, he was replaced because he was old. He is an “old (or dead) white European male,” in the words of the Left.
Change and newness are so vital to leftists that a progressive who cared first and foremost about excellence would cease to be a progressive.
Early this past summer, I sat down and composed a lengthy e-mail diatribe for the local classical-music radio station on this very topic, although I never did bother to hit “Send.” Said station, WDAV, is attached to Davidson College, and the hosting staff is shot through with kneejerk Progtards who are not at all shy about making their political leanings perfectly clear on-air.
The hell of it is, DAV is hands-down the best classical station I’ve ever listened to, among all the stations in all the cities I’ve lived in over the years. They don’t play nearly as much of the wretchedly tedious “new classical” dreck the stations in NYC, ATL, and New Orleans muck up their airwaves with. As far as their programming selection goes, DAV is, umm, sweet music to my ears.
Yeah, I know. Sorry, couldn’t help myself there. Don’t hate me ’cause I’m beautiful, aiiight?
Anyhoo, I listen to DAV pretty much all day and night, and enjoy it tremendously, the exception being the ever-winsome Rachel Stewart’s Sunday morning show, “Biscuits and Bach.” It’s devoted exclusively to the Baroque composers, see, and Baroque aggravates me like bamboo shoots under the fingernails. Verily, I do despise that shit. Well, Scarlatti I like a lot; same-same for the great composers for guitar at the fag-end of the era like Giuliani, Boccherini, and Paganini*.
Bach, Handel, all the rest, though? Humbug, I say!
Over just this past year or thereabouts, as if to intentionally annoy me further still beyond the occasional not-so-sly digs at Trump from the aforementioned hosts, the station has put several new programs into the regular rotation, all of them exercises in drooling PC.
One in particular focuses on “marginalized composers,” mainly females, who have been unfairly short-shrifted because you fiendish classical fans are so goddamned MISOGYNIST you refuse to listen to the flavor-of-the-month LGBTQZRWNmXXX Composers of Color, damn your eyes, despite their all CLEARLY being the equals of Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin rolled together into one awesome wad of talent and inspiration.
Another gruesome offering, airing a couple afternoons a week at 2, I think it is, lionizes unknown Neegrow composers as the put-upon musical saints they all are, unjustly oppressed by De White Man because RACISM!!!, you rotten BASTARDS.
Then there’s Concierto, a show which I hesitate to lump in with the others, because it’s actually quite damned good and I like it a lot.
Concierto is a weekly program of classical music presented in Spanish and in English. The program features music by Latin American and Spanish composers and musicians. With Concierto, WDAV extends a welcoming hand to the fastest growing ethnic group in the Carolinas, while also seeking to introduce new listeners to the pleasures of classical music.
Concierto es un programa seminal de música clásica presentada en español e ingles. El programa cuenta la música clásica por compositores y músicos latinoamericanos y españoles. Con Concierto, WDAV extiende una mano de bienvenida al grupo étnico que está creciendo más rápido en las Carolinas, y a la misma vez también buscando a introducir nuevos oyentes a los placeres de la música clásica.
Spanish translation included above because of course it was.
These shows, plus a couple others I’ve labored mightily to put out of my mind, undermine their own raison d’etre by confirming that skin color, sex, and/or political opinion make seriously piss-poor criteria for judging compositional ability. Trust me, if these over-entitled hacks have indeed been “marginalized,” then they all came by it honest, and richly deserve to be. I endure these shows by the skin of my gritted teeth, and can say with no little authority that the “music” these talentless tyros are putting out is truly the pits: screechy, skrawky, aimlessly atonal clappa-trappa devoid of any semblance of melody, coherence, or worth. It is literally excruciating to listen to. Which, believe me, you shouldn’t. Nobody should.
But hey, it’s New, it’s Nonwhite, it’s Transgressive—for your standard-issue liberal dumbass, it checks all the necessary boxes, so what’s not to like? What it assuredly is NOT, is good. Not by any standard for “good” I can recognize or endorse, it ain’t.
So much for the outdated stereotype of classical-music mavens as stuffy, rigid, ultra-conservative old gits who poot dust and cobwebs; wear monocles, cummerbunds, and spats, even at home; and lounge about in their fancy-schmancy home “libraries” or Gentlemens Clubs gassing on about the lamentable state of the Modern World, to the eternal irritation of their long-suffering manservants. It just ain’t so anymore, if it ever even was. Nowadays, classical music-lovers are all yuppie-puppy standard-issue shitlibs: affluent, self-absorbed, smug, and entirely insufferable. Nice thing is, it makes all that beseeching and imploring for donations during the annual Fall Fundraiser so easy to ignore without feeling the slightest twinge of guilt over it.
*A bit late for Baroque on a couple of those, I know. In Scarlatti’s case, he’s generally considered to be the “bridge” between the Baroque and Classical periods, much the way Beethoven is thought of as being the same between Classical and Romantic. So there.