Artur Rubinstein did not play with “class.”

Hola a todos. For the people who know me well, they would say that I never use the word “class” other than to mock a certain arrogant pseudo-socialist political party (that shall remain nameless) that has been partisan-brainwashed with a “it’s all about class” mentality. Said party refers to “the ruling class” (meaning the US Oligarchy/The Establish) and “the working class,” yet they never define what income level makes up “the working class.” I don’t think about class, except when I see self-entitled elitist homeowners in San Francisco living under the illusion that they have some “special rights” of some sort just because they own some old moldy home and consequently seem to think they own and can ramrod the neighbourhood. Many homeowners hate on renters. They seem to forget that they were a renter in their past. Unlike these homeowners, I see everyone as the same — we’re all human beings — rather than with a divisive class mentality, where all the problems in the world are class-based, according to that political party I referenced above.

So I was very put off when I saw some ignorant commenters on U-toob — willful-ignorance seems to be a requirement for most U-toob commenters these days — say that pianist Artur Rubinstein “played with class.” In their limited musical vocabulary and knowledge of piano training, the Classical Music Snots (CMS) say “Rubinstein played with class.” In reality, “class” had nothing whatsoever to do with how Rubinstein played. During my years of musical training (from age 8 when I started studying piano through my years of Conservatory-training), no one ever used the word “class” when training me no matter what I was studying musically. No one ever told me, “the finest pianists play with class.” It’s not a word I ever heard. Yet I saw multiple comments about “he played with class” under one of Rubinstein’s videos on U-toob.

The word “artistry” is what these people are searching for and it’s apparently beyond these know-it-all CMS basura. The pretentious and elitist CMS (Classical Music Snots) are very class-conscious. I think “class” is a corporate mentality as well as that of the aristocracy. “Sublime” used to be their big word for describing a performance as they try to come off as all pretentious, elitist and as upmost authorities (self-appointed, of course). I still see “sublime.” Perhaps “class” has replaced “sublime?” Apparently they’ve never heard of something called a thesaurus either. The Classical Music Snots like to use philosophical-sounding language Dahling, poetic-sounding language Dahling, “high-brow”-sounding and “upper class”-sounding language Dahling. Yes, they do so love to “keep up appearances” of being know-it-alls of the classical music tradition. They try to emulate classical music “professional” music critics-reviewers, most of whom I avoid because of their elitist snooty pretentious writing, and often because they give minimal attention to the Symphony Chorus in a performance if they give the Chorus any mention at all. With the “professional” music critics, Dahling, it’s all about the celebrity vocal screamers — the opera divas, Dahling — known as “the soloists.”

The CMS’s use of the word “class” doesn’t help matters because classical music unfortunately already has this well-cemented stereotype that it’s music for only the upper class/wealthy Dahling. So when the CMS go on and on about “class” it just reaffirms that negative stereotype. But trying to explain this to them would be most futile. They’re not the brightest people in the world despite the high pedestal from which they presume to speak as self-appointed musical authorities (with no musical training?).

I think most of the Classical Music Snots are wannabe-musicians and or amateurs — that’s how they come off to me; as know-it-all arm-chair critics without any musical talent and or too lazy to pursue and invest in the hard work, the discipline, the dedication, intelligence and of course talent required for genuine music training — so not having trained in a Conservatory or a University’s School of Music (with a Conservatory environment) they would know nothing about serious music training. And their comments often demonstrate that, such as this rubbish about “Rubinstein played with class.” No, he played with artistry as he was trained. For example, artistry (for any instrument, not just piano) involves a very well-trained and cultivated musical “ear” to be one’s own teacher/critic while playing and while preparing pieces for performance. Artistry also involves the highest levels of musical talent, and talent cannot be taught. “Class” has nothing to do with any of this. Shows how much they (the CMS) know! Or rather don’t.

The Classical Music Snots also love to name-drop their favourite conductor(s). I think that’s meant to give them credibility, but the fools fail to understand that if the piece is a symphonic choral work, it doesn’t matter who conducts it if the Chorus is not stellar. And there is only so much that any conductor can do with a Chorus that is not superbly prepared or that does not sing with perfect intonation and impeccable diction. The Chorus Director prepares the Chorus, not the Orchestral Conductor, which most people don’t seem to know from reading U-toob comments. The conductor for the performance — the Orchestral Conductor — usually doesn’t see the Chorus until the dress rehearsal on stage before the first performance. So any small adjustments that the Orchestral Conductor wishes to make or change from the way that the Chorus has been prepared by the Chorus Director, s/he (the conductor) does that on stage.

In my Orchestra Chorus experience, I can only think of two conductors who met with us (the Chorus) in advance before the dress rehearsal. One performance was in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall and the other was at Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts outside the Capital Beltway in Northern Virginia. Conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducted us (Norman Scribner’s Choral Arts Society of Washington) with the National Symphony Orchestra. Señor de Burgos met with us for one rehearsal up near Washington National Cathedral where we rehearsed before the dress rehearsal with the NSO. He seemed pleased with us. I don’t remember him changing much. He and Norman got along well. Norman sat next to him so if he had any questions he could answer them. This was for a performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. The other instance was when conductor John Nelson met with us (Dr Paul Traver’s University of Maryland Chorus) at the University of Maryland’s School of Music before our dress rehearsal with the NSO at Wolf Trap. I remember John Nelson saying something very nice to us at the end of the rehearsal, “This is the finest prepared Chorus I’ve ever worked with.” (In my mind I remember saying: Well of course it is. This is the University of Maryland Chorus after all with its superb reputation). But that made us feel good and I’m sure Dr Traver appreciated hearing that. That was for the Berlioz Grande Messe des morts, Op. 5/(Requiem). But in my experience, they were the only two occurrences where the performance conductor had any prior experience with the Chorus before the dress rehearsal. I don’t remember any conductors meeting with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus before our dress rehearsals in Davies Symphony Hall. And either Margaret Hillis or Vance George had prepared us. (For those who don’t know: Margaret Hillis, Founder and Director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, was interim Chorus Director for the San Francisco Symphony Chorus before Vance George was appointed Chorus Director. Yes, she commuted back and forth from Chicago to San Francisco and back to Chicago for awhile).

Most of the CMS could likely not pass the entrance audition into a Conservatory, if they play any instrument(s) at all. So, the sheeple word “class” is all that they know rather than saying, “The finest artists are trained to play as Horowitz and Rubinstein played” as two examples. But upon reflection, since they (the CMS) don’t have the intense musical training experience of a Conservatory or School of Music, they would have no knowledge or experience of how musicians are trained.

Rubinstein — as well as Horowitz — played how he was artistically trained which had nothing to do with “playing with class.” (roll eyes, morons). Again, that expression of “playing with class” is an expression I never heard when I trained. My piano professors never spoke in such language. Neither did any Chorus Director that I had the pleasure of working with. “Playing with class” is the thinking of people who don’t know what they’re talking about, such as most U-toob commenters. Where on Earth do these people come from?

The finest piano training can be very intense, it’s an art form — having nothing to do with “class” — especially for piano majors in the Performance concentration. I seem to be repeating myself, but I feel one has to when there are such thick and dense people out there who may show up here to read this, particularly the CMS themselves.

Both Horowitz and Rubinstein played with what could be described as a quiet face showing little facial expression. They mostly looked down at the keyboard while concentrating and or glanced up at the conductor in a concerto performance.

Horowitz apparently couldn’t stand facial theatrics either as he said, “I’m probably not that interesting to watch. You won’t see me gazing at the ceiling with quivering lips.” Ah, so he had noticed that nonsense too. No, one didn’t see Horowitz looking up at the ceiling with quivering lips, fortunately. (What are they looking at up there anyway? Ceilings are not the most interesting places to look. I mean, nothing changes about them). I believe Horowitz also said that “the music comes out through the fingers,” not through the face, meaning not through needless theatrics or play-acting (as I call it).

I know that some people couldn’t/can’t stand Horowitz. The mere mention of his name puts some piano concert artists into quite a state. Their reaction seems a bit extreme to me. But I’m not talking about that here. This is not about what he played or how he played it and whether one liked it or not, but rather his playing style of a lack of theatrics. By the way, he was critical of his own playing at times. He listened to some earlier recordings of his playing and said, “Oh that’s too fast. I played that too fast back then.”

And for those who know nothing about me: I’m a Conservatory-trained pianist (piano major, voice and pipe organ double minors, and performed with three major Orchestra Choruses in the US), and I know from experience that the finest pianists — and musicians in general — are trained to “make even the most difficult music that one performs look easy to play. Look effortless, even when it’s not. That’s one of the indicators of a real artist.” So there’s no need for needless theatrics or play-acting as if the piece one is playing is the most difficult piece one has ever played and one can barely get through it. There’s also no need for gazing at the ceiling with quivering lips or jumping around on the piano bench as if one is about to attack the closest female violinist during a piano concerto as I saw recently. I thought about the pianist: What is he doing? Is he about to jump up and attack one of the violinists? Loco./Crazy.

I just wanted to make that point that performance has to do with one’s artistry, talent, skill-level, intense musical training and musicianship. It has absolutely nothing to do with “class.” “Class” is the language of the musically-ignorant. Chau.—el barrio rosa