The classical music armchair critics and their name-dropping

Hola a todos. I watched two stellar violinists play a duet this afternoon in an AdTube video. One of them is the First and Second Concertmaster — sometimes he’s Second Concertmaster whereas other times he’s First Concertmaster — for one of the finest orchestras in the EU.

These two violinists are not celebrity-name musicians, which apparently is critically important to many shallow people who feel they can only enjoy celebrity musicians. And as expected, one of the classical music armchair critics showed up to rudely say how their version was not as good as that of her favourite big-name violionists. Their version was the definitive version, although she didn’t use that language, probably because she’s never heard it. She used more remedial language. I’d love to ask her: Would you go back stage and say that to these two violinists in person? Or would you — if you have any brain in that head of yours at all — consider doing so to be rude? I thought it was very rude. If you feel it would be rude, why would you write it in a comment that they will likely read online?

Well, she wrote it hiding behind her keyboard anonymously because she wanted everything to think that — as most classical music armchair critics do — that she was an expert and “know it all” about music and this particular piece. So in order to do that in her shallow head, she felt the name to drop the names of two internationally-renowned violinists. Which of course doesn’t mean that their performance of the same piece was the definitive version. That is subjective. It depends upon who you ask. The version she was whinging about in the video was superb in my opinion.

Obviously she’s not a musician — so she’s exposed herself right there without knowing it — because as a musician I am extremely slow to be critical of other musicians, because I know how that feels. Other musicians I’ve known and worked with are the same way. And the only musicians I can remember being critical of have been some Orchestra Choruses who do not sing with perfect intonation, but that is the fault of the Chorus Director not doing his or her job. Other than that, I’ve only praised musicians.

Let’s say that I agreed with her, would I have written the rude thing she wrote? Absolutely not. If I have nothing positive to say about a musician’s performance, I say nothing, but usually I can find something that I liked about their performance even if I didn’t quite agree with their interpretation or playing style. Again, as a musician I know how that feels and I wouldn’t dream of doing something like that. But we have a lot of trashy people in our society hiding behind computer keyboards who think nothing of criticising some of the finest musicians in the world who are not “household” or celebrity names. Pathetic really. I can’t stand people like that. Basura.

I should also say that the classical armchair critics also worship and glorify celebrity conductors and vocal soloists. All other musicians on stage they mostly ignore. To them, all praise goes to the big-name conductor. So for a symphonic choral work, their comment is only about the vocal soloist(s) who sat staring at the back wall of the hall for most of the performance, and their messiah conductor. They give no credit to the Symphony Chorus or the Orchestra who performed the majority of the work.

The only thing I questioned about this performance was what I saw: It was in one of the EU countries where the COVID cases are currently now soaring (as of December 2021). None of the musicians were wearing face masks, nor were they distanced, as they were many months ago when they were performing in chamber music settings. It looked like the full Orchestra was back on stage, as if COVID or its variants are no longer a concern what-so-ever. By the applause, the hall seemed to have been full, and no distancing. Stupid. But this falls on orchestral mis-management wanting to sell as many tickets as they can. Even if everyone there was fully-vaccinated, this new variant (Omicron) is getting around the vaccine. By what I saw, orchestral mis-management couldn’t care less. Chau.—el barrio rosa