Post by Chris J.
"the wealthy white men who embraced Beethoven and turned his symphony
into a symbol of their superiority and importance. For some in other
groups — women, LGBTQ+ people, people of color - Beethoven’s symphony may
be predominantly a reminder of classical music’s history of exclusion and
"The field must acknowledge a history of systemic racism while also
giving new weight to Black composers, musicians, and listeners."
"Musical notation branded 'colonialist' by Oxford professor hoping to
'decolonise' the curriculum."
"Professors said the classical repertoire taught at Oxford, which spans
works by Mozart and Beethoven, focuses too much on "white European music
from the slave period".
The documents reveal that a faculty member, who decide on courses that
form the music degree, have proposed reforms to address this "white
hegemony", including rethinking the study of musical notation because it
is a "colonialist representational system"."
Wow! By that time I was going to hide my CDs and buy some politically
correct noise before the woke front's stormtroopers would forcefully
(also from Oxford) "Chineke! was founded in 2015 by the double bass
player, Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, to provide career opportunities for young
Black and ethnically diverse classical musicians in the UK and Europe.
Chineke!'s mission is: 'Championing change and celebrating diversity in
There are no black and no female composers on my CD shelves. And I do not
intend to change that because "woke" loudmouths and other confused
individuals reduce great the great classical music in my current
collection to "white European music from the slave period" with a
"history of exclusion and elitism."
It's Vox and The New Yorker. Not surprised at the sentiments they propagandize for under their banners at all. As I mentioned in another thread some weeks ago, it's easy to attack that which one is largely ignorant of (whether by circumstance or otherwise).
Wasn't Beethoven himself a victim of "wealthy white men?" He hustled after patrons his whole life long, never seemed to outdo his early Septet in their eyes, and lost out on his love interests because of the attentions of/commitments to the monied and established. He was even deemed inferior or passé in comparison to Rossini. As if that wasn't long enough, wealthy gatekeepers kept his late music well at a distance from the public for nearly a century after his death. Talk about your "history of exclusion and elitism!"
Also, the concept of "whiteness" as understood today is a fairly recent one, mostly developed post-1945. It may be true now. (I don't know as I'm not white.) But if you had told Germans, English, Irish, Danes, Swedes, Finns, Italians, Czech, French, Hungarians, Serbs, Russians, and Poles in the 19th and early 20th centuries, for example, that they were all the same and that their cultures were basically interchangeable, you'd probably get socked in the face.
Of course there were very few black composers represented in the 19th century and early 20th century in Europe—comparatively speaking, there were very few black people living in Europe at all back then. (Although there were some "BIPOC" artists coming up back then. Pushkin and Dumas, anyone?)
While I'm all for supporting black composers and encouraging engagement with potential black listeners, people in the English-speaking world (including non-whites) overlook the fact that our society is far more diverse than merely black and white. There are literally countless worthy composers from Latin America (a region, by the way, with societies as racially diverse, if not more so, than that of the US) and Asia (ditto) which get virtually no attention at all internationally. When was the last time any major American symphony orchestra or chamber ensemble did a thorough retrospective series on the works of Revueltas, Chávez, Santa Cruz Wilson, or Roldán? (I think only Southwest Chamber Music, led by the wonderful Jeff von der Schmidt, ever did any deep exploration of this repertoire, which makes their current state of hiatus all the more lamentable.) All of the aforementioned composers were not only important within their own homelands, but their works of exceptional quality are more than worthy of being heard along with the best of Europe and the US. Just last week I bought that Brilliant set of the symphonies of Luis Humberto Salgado. His only problem was that he was from Ecuador, which is basically nowhere for most anybody in the US or Europe. But his music is of exceptional quality; it ranks favorably with the works of his US peers (I'd argue that he's often better). Can we expect any of the big American or European orchestras to take up his works for the sake of inclusion and shattering "white supremacy" in classical music?
Japan alone has a rich history of classical music extending back to the beginning of the 20th century. Its prewar composers and performing musicians, not to mention the unique and dynamic culture they thrived in, are barely known abroad. China, Korea, and the Philippines, too, have rich legacies which are barely investigated by foreigners. Southeast Asia currently is enjoying a burgeoning new music community, especially in Vietnam. Who in the US (again, including non-whites) ever do anything to bring this to the attention of people here?
Geez, don't even get me started on all the worthy non-white/non-black composers and musicians from the US who are constantly ignored for no good reason.
The problem—at least one of them—is the fact that white and non-white "folx" think classical music is all "dead white males" because that's all they ever bother to know. In fact, especially from the 20th century on, classical music is far more ethnically/racially diverse than its detractors are able to give it credit for. But I'm not holding my breath for anybody to do anything meaningful to rectify this. That's not where the money is, after all.