The Classical Music Snots

Also known as the Classical Music Armchair Critics.  Do they have any musical training at all?

“It was a very convincing reading,”
“a very sublime performance”

Hola, the Classical Music SnotsTM (CMS) are a piece of work and those two phrases above are what I say to amigos whenever I mock the CMS because those two phrases are what the CMS predictably say to describe a performance they like.

I can see them now speaking both phrases with their nose in the air and the corners of their mouth down and with Queen’s English trying to be pretentious and elitist. But with the CMS, it’s only “a sublime performance” when the performance is by some big-name/international artist. And por favor, don’t ask me what they mean by, “a very convincing reading.” Convincing of what? That the artist knew the piece and was able to play it? And I would point out that when an artist is not using his/her score and playing “from memory,” s/he not “reading” anything.

The CMS are these mostly conservative, self-appointed, self-righteous assholes who think they are authorities on all matters of (slowly dying) classical music.

The CMS try to come off as “poetic.” Here’s an example of that I found:

“How fortunate that I, a mere mortal, can have such sublime balm bestowed upon me. Genius composer…superbly gifted playing!”.

Sublime balm? WTF? There’s their signature “sublime” word again. They love using that. The CMS also try to come off as philosophical, “cultured” and “highbrow” (Dahling).

Then there’s this asshole here. I’m not sure what he expected to accomplish by writing this to an artist:

“Although technically convincing (as one could expect from Berezovsky), i can’t stand this interpretation: too many unexcusable errors both in misreading notes (not just error caused by a live performarce, i don’t really care of those…) and in most of the composer’s indications written in the score.”

“Technically convincing” of what? That he can play the piece? Why don’t you useless assholes find yourself a thesaurus — you do know what that is, don’t you? — and come up with some new troll material instead of constantly talking about something being “convincing.” (I guess you couldn’t work in the word “sublime” because you didn’t like the performance.) Ugh.

Pretentious basura is what these arrogant assholes are.

Some (if not most) of the CMS are also anti-gay and some are sexist. They make comments about female performers — some guys go on about how beautiful she is and how they are in love with her just from watching her play and then comes the, “would you like to get married with me?” question — that they never make about male performers. These sexist, heteronormative guys I’m talking about make baseless assumptions about the female’s sexual orientation — they assume she’s “straight” even though she may be una lesbiana. I’ve not seen this sexist behavior from females to guy performers however. It’s just one-way from guys to female performers. I sometimes wonder if los muchachos had intended to go to a “straight” sex video site and by mistake ended up at a classical music video. Also, some of the CMS claim to have degrees in music, but from my experience the most humble and down to Earth musicians with degrees in music don’t feel the need to shove their degrees in other people’s faces. I’ve known some DMAs (Doctor of Musical Arts) who referred to themselves by their first name rather than as “Dr.”

Contrast the CMS with classical music performers. They are two very different groups. From my experience and with few exceptions, classical musicians are very informal, down-to-Earth, not snooty, not pretentious nor do they try to put on airs of superiority. I often think that the CMS are people who wanted to be musicians but just didn’t have it! They didn’t become a musician for a lack of talent or skill level. And online they sit around with their snooty nose in the air and write these pretentious-sounding comments as High Authorities on all matters of classical music. They try to emulate so-called “professional” music critics. They’re such know-it-alls. They’ll go on about how the artist missed the C# in measure so and so and had other wrong notes. I’m thinking: Don’t you assholes have anything better to do with your time than to go on at length about one note in some measure or to do a measure-by-measure critique of someone’s playing? And whenever it’s a performance by a not-so-well-known artist, the CMS feel the need to say, “well it’s okay, it was good but I much prefer the performance by [name of very well-known international artist]. They love to drop names and genuflect to well-known international artists. I suspect they think that gives them credibility and makes their opinion more valuable than that of other people. They’re doing their own “Keeping up Appearances” routine. That was funny when actor Patricia Routledge did that as Hyacinth Bucket (“it’s Bouquet”) in the British comedy “Keeping Up Appearances.” The CMS make a point of talking about a piece being too slow or too fast — in other words, played differently than the way they’ve always heard it — and other critical comments.

The Classical Music SnotsTM really ruin classical music for a lot of people. They turn many people off to classical music and they give classical music a bad image in many people’s minds.

As a musician, I don’t like to criticise other musicians and I rarely do so because I know how it can feel to have one’s playing/performance criticised by arrogant assholes such as the CMS. I feel sorry for artists who have to listen to locos/crazies going on about this was wrong (according to them) and that was wrong after the artist spent so much of their time learning the piece and/or re-preparing it and performing it well, but just not identical to some big-name artist that the CMS worship and adore. For example, if a pianist’s posture is terrible — if the pianist is all bent over with their face almost on the keyboard — and not sitting up tall/supporting their back which makes my back ache just watching them play, I say nothing to the artist. That terrible posture/position is the way s/he was unfortunately trained and I’m not getting paid to correct their posture. I would think s/he would have back problems at some point being so consistently hunched over and not supporting his/her back at the piano. Or, if I don’t like someone’s playing or a performance, I don’t say anything because why bother? The performance is over and it is what it was, so why make the artist feel badly because someone didn’t like something about the performance? If there were real problems with the performance, maybe the artist had an “off” day. Or their performance was their interpretation of the piece. But with the CMS, if someone plays something even slightly differently than they’ve always heard it played (by some big-named artist), with their nose in the air arrogance they start in on the artist with their self-appointed authority. El culo.

I watched a performance the other day from Alemania/Deutschland/Germany of Sir William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, one of favourite works for Chorus and Orchestra. I enjoyed their performance. Because of my choral training, I pay special attention to choral diction. I thought the diction from this Chorus was splendid. It was a Chorus from Deutschland singing in English, which is not easy for them to do. I suspect they brought in an English-language coach to help train the Chorus on pronunciations, as was the case for the Orchestra Choruses I was in. Well, some of the CMS felt the need to whine about some of the diction and how they pronounced certain words, such as the word “eunuchs.” I noticed a few subtle things with some pronunciations such as the text “tasted the wine” which they sang (what sounded like to me) “tasted the vine,” because the “w” is a “v” sound in German. I thought it was sorta interesting to sing it that way and I didn’t have any problem with it. I felt empathetic to them), but overall I thought their diction was superb. They were a very well-prepared Chorus, despite the CMS and their snide-assed remarks. Belshazzar’s Feast is a difficult work with all those choral and orchestral dissonances.

Then with hesitation, I was reading the comments the other day under a video for an outstandingly superb concert organist. Some CMS asshole felt the need to say this to the organist (although this is a tame comment for the CMS):

“I would enjoy this more if you left out the juvenile and vain exaggerated movements. Your music doesn’t need it.”

*roll eyes* Ugh.

Then another CMS asshole showed up to wash that assholes back and wrote:

“I agree, it’s rehearsed – not natural. He is very talented, but too young as well – and by too young I mean he doesn’t realize it is okay to sit still and let the music do the motion.”

Sigh. Now what did those two pieces of basura expect to accomplish by telling this organist that and being critical of his body movements during his performance? I noticed his body movements and I’ve seen similar body movements on occasion from other organists. They didn’t bother me. His body movements looked quite “natural” for him whether they were “rehearsed” body movements or not. Some people would call his body movements his “theatrics.” That’s his style and if you (CMS) don’t like it, then go watch somebody else that you do like if you can possible find somebody you do like.

I have a suggestion for you: Why don’t you obnoxious assholes record this piece yourself to show us all how it should be done (according to omnipotent you)? How’s that? And instead of whining about other people’s performances, record each piece yourself that you come across and don’t like of someone’s performance, okay? So when can we expect to see your videos uploaded on YouG**gleTube? I should point out that usually the CMS have no videos at all of their own that they have recorded themselves. None. They just like to sit around and whine about other people’s performances.

At one local piano performance years ago, I went over to tell the pianist that I enjoyed his playing. El hombre in front of me told the artist, “I think there was too much pedal in the Brahms,” and then proceeded to list other problems that he supposedly heard with the performance. I was standing there thinking to myself: I can’t believe what I’m hearing. What a jerk! I’m standing behind a Classical Music SnotTM. The pianist responded: “Well, maybe I need to work on those things.” I was shaking my head and thinking: No, you don’t need to work on those things. You’re dealing with a inconsiderate person here. The CMS finally walked away after completing his critique and I greeted the pianist. I knew him to some degree anyway and I said: Your pedaling in the Brahms was fine and ignore all that other basura. He laughed and said, “You know, some people think they know everything don’t they?” I said yes they do. I told him: You played beautifully and I enjoyed it. Muchas gracias.

Then at another piano performance, I went to tell the pianist that I thoroughly enjoyed his Rachmaninov Etudes-Tableaux. I like him very much as a person and his playing. He had a few problems in one or two of them (no big deal) and he mentioned the problems to me when we talked because he knew I knew the pieces. I said, “Oh forget about it! You played beautifully. Those pieces are very difficult and I thoroughly enjoyed them and muchas gracias to you for playing Rachmaninov. I hope you play them again.” He looked so pleased and relieved. He went on to say that they are such beautiful pieces — which they are — which was his way of making it all about Rachmaninov and making Rachmaninov the center of attention, and not him and his playing, which I especially liked. Very humble.

The Prudes of Classical Music

The CMS are most assuredly the prudes of classical music, as one might expect. They remind me of the constipated conservatives around San Francisco’s Castro barrio with body-image issues who have sanitised San Francisco’s conservative Castro (the former gay mecca). The CMS try to give the impression they don’t have bodily functions. They’re above that, you know, just like the elitist techies. (By the way, I’ve heard that these lobotomised techies think they need several expensive apps on their smart stupidphone to instruct these alleged geniuses on how to go to the bathroom using a smart toiletTM and smart toilet paperTM).

Awhile back, I noticed that a publication in the District of Columbia was comparing two of the Orchestra Choruses in the District. The article began with something to the effect that the DC area has “a shitload of Choruses.” Well, down in the comments the CMS had to lash out at the writer for using the language “shitload.” The CMS prudes just couldn’t deal with that. I thought it was funny and fortunately the writer didn’t change it to pacify them.

Ugly Nationalism in Classical Music

The CMS are also unfortunately nationalistic in that, for example, they think that only someone from Russia can play Rachmaninov well or authentically. Las chorradas. So it doesn’t matter how beautifully a non-Russian artist plays the Rachmaninov Second or Third Piano Concerto, because the artist is not Russian his/her performance can’t be as good as someone born in Russian, which is ludicrous thinking! What idiots comes up with this stuff and then the unthinking CMS sheeple mindlessly repeat it? Humans! The country one happens to be born in has nothing to do with how well the artist can play a piece. It has to do with many other factors including his/her talent, one’s ear for music, their training and other factors. But using the CMS’s thinking, only people born en Alemania/Germany can play Bach well or the way Bach was intended to be played, or only los Mexicanos can play a piece authentically by a composer born en México. Nonsense. I read a comment on one video saying, “Russia produces good pianists and violinists.” Well, Russia produces some good pianists and violinists as well as many other things just as many other countries do. Also, some things are culturally-based such as Sergei Rachmaninov being very influenced by Russian church bells in his music.

Feminism and Masculine Interpretations of a Piece?

I never knew that pieces/interpretations had a gender, did you? Apparently they do now. I was reading the comments under a video for the Rachmaninov Third (Piano Concerto No. 3) awhile back and someone wrote, “here we have a nice feminine interpretation of this concerto…” I listened to parts of it — I’ve worked on that concerto — and it sounded no differently to me than when a guy plays it, so I had no idea what la loca meant by a “feminine interpretation” other than the pianist performing was una mujer/a woman. Staying on that same crazy train of thought, I’d like to ask that person this: Since Rachmaninov was un hombre/a man, shouldn’t the interpretation of his piece be “masculine” for it to be the closest to authentic, hmmmmmmmm? (That might have them thinking for awhile). Humans are getting more loco by the day.

I’ve noticed that the CMS also rush to defend some Anglican churches and cathedrals with trebles (boy choristers) who don’t have video webcasts of their liturgies. The CMS say that these churches/cathedrals should not broadcast their liturgies online because of child molesters who could be watching the webcast. LOL. As loco/crazy as that sounds, you might be thinking I’m making this up, but I’m not. That’s what I’ve read from them. That’s curious because I know of one cathedral church of the Anglican Communion that has been broadcasting their webcasts of their liturgies for years showing the Men and Boys of the Cathedral Choir and they’ve never had any problem. And I would point out that if any treble/choirboy is going to be molested, the molester would likely come from within the church (as in the clergy). I’m unclear on this thinking of how someone would walk in off the street and molest a choirboy? Loco. I’m an Anglican Atheist, but from my Anglican experience, the choirboys were/are kept quite isolated. They arrive at the parish or the cathedral church with their parents and go immediately to the Choir Room. From my experience, even the Men of the Cathedral Choir had no direct contact with the boys. The Men would rehearse separately in the Choir Room and then the boys would come in as a group and sit in front of the men for the full rehearsal during the weekday rehearsal or before a Liturgy on Domingo/Sunday. Or the Men and Boys would rehearse together in the Quire stalls in the Cathedral. So even if a child molester were to attend the Liturgy it would be impossible for a molester to have any contact with a choirboy. And I would like to point out the following:

“Most sexual abuse offenders are acquainted with their victims; approximately 30% are relatives of the child, most often brothers, fathers, uncles, or cousins; around 60% are other acquaintances, such as “friends” of the family, babysitters, or neighbors; strangers are the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases. [Source: Child sexual abuse]

God Bless?

And finally, there are the many people who seem to have to copy one another in their comments by telling the artist, “God Bless.” Ugh. Why would one assume that just because one believes in the Floating Cloud Being that the artist does too? The artist may be like me, an atheist. I have no use for “God Bless.” Many people do this “God Bless” nonsense, not just the CMS. I learned years ago that it’s best not to assume that anyone believes or thinks as I do, therefore, if I believed in the Floating Cloud Being, I still wouldn’t tell the artist, “God Bless You Always” because s/he may not believe in that bunk at all. So why do so many people assume that someone believes as they do? Why would you do that? And if the “omnipotent” (the Floating Cloud Being) plans to bless this guy, s/he will do so anyway whether one send that wish to the artist or not. I suggest that some non-religious salutation is better and more appropriate.

You know, it’s too bad that the Classical Music SnotsTM can’t find something else more constructive to do with their time. They desperately need a new hobby. They need something to polish to occupy their time. How about something tasteful with hand-engraved cut-glass fingerbowls, no? Or, oh I know, how about flower arranging, no? Chau.—el barrio rosa

4 comments on “The Classical Music Snots

  1. Dorian Cochrane

    I loved this article and agree totally! You are a breath of fresh air for the weary! I am so tired of listening to ridiculous and baseless remarks from these type of people. And it does spoil the music for all of us! Thanks so much for your insights and honesty!

  2. Alejandro

    Hoooooooooola. I’m sure you’ve heard people say “I can’t understand it” while or after listening to some classical music. I think that’s an example of how the cms have ruined classical music for many people. People think they can’t just listen to it as they would any other music and enjoy it. Gracias.

  3. E in Sunnyvale

    “The Classical Music Snots really ruin classical music for a lot of people. They turn many people off to classical music and they give classical music a bad image in many people’s minds.”

    Couldn’t agree more – precisely the reason I refuse to go back into orchestras or any kind of public performance of classical music (well, there’s other reasons too). I got sick to death of people like this. It’s bad enough when it’s one or two idiots on the internet, but a whole auditorium full of them is too much. I’ll still play/listen, but only for my own enjoyment.

    Just like any other “art snobs”, they have no idea what it’s all about, they just want to pretend to be sophisticated in front of others.

    1. rosa_barrio Post author

      Hola E,

      Yes, their “Keeping Up Appearances” routine.

      I remember when Patricia Routledge was interviewed during or after she did the BBC’s “Keeping Up Appearances” she said she really had an interest in playing the role of Hyacinth Bucket because she (Patricia) can’t stand pretentious people like this who are always trying to “keep up appearances.” So she got great pleasure in mocking them.
      Gracias for your comment. Chau.

Fin. The End.