Classical Music in the Modern World

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Eleanor Wu, Staff Writer

“Music speaks louder than words” is a phrase commonly used to describe the sensation some experience when listening to music. However, music today is filled with words and lyrics that sometimes overshadow the original instrumentation and musicality of songs. Classical music, whose original purpose was to entertain and create resonance in people’s hearts without the need for excessive lyrics, has received less love, especially among teenagers. The common consensus seems to be: what is the point of listening to something that seems so distant and old? Classical music is often seen as a thing of the past. The famous composers Beethoven and Mozart are what most people think about when it comes to this genre. This myopic perception of classical music can largely be attributed to the way in which music is taught at school. The truth is, classical music has never stopped growing, but the only thing people know are old, white composers from Europe. This gives off the impression that this music is not relevant to today. While these musicians had great contributions, teaching a variety of composers, such as women and people of color, would expand the horizons of classical music. Besides this, classical music is sometimes seen as elitist as sitting in concerts was only for the highest of classes. Concert attendance meant a night of luxury and dressing up in ball gowns and suits, away from society’s working classes. This culture can still be seen in the opera houses of today, but the music itself has become much more affordable and accessible. However, even if classical concerts were offered, the younger generation would prefer to attend concerts of their favorite artists in stadiums where they can dance, jump, scream, and mingle with peers. 

With current pop culture trends, classical music has seemed to resurface to some extent. Aesthetics, such as dark academia (a darker, historical theme with a classical literature focus), have helped in the reintroduction of classical songs such as Claire De Lune by Debussy into mainstream media. However, the gap between today’s teenagers and classical music still seems pretty large. Every note that makes up a classical piece is created to portray an aspect of life. In the violin piece Love’s sorrow (Leisbelensleid) by Fritz Kriesler, for instance, the piece sounds rather melancholy yet beautiful and serene. While this piece has been interpreted by many as a commentary on the sad nature of love, the piece and interpretation process, itself, is a beautiful one. Without words, listeners can still feel something. 

Classical music is often interpreted as irrelevant and too old for the world we live in today, but just like any piece of music today, the purpose is the same: to convey emotions, create bonds, and inspire people.