March 28, 2007 at 4:39 AMLast week I was trying to tell kids the value of a classical education, but on Tuesday I heard an eloquent explanation, by a 2007 Lifetime Achievement GRAMMY Award recipient and soul great Booker T. Jones.
It happens about 21 minutes into this NPR Interview with Terry Gross.
"I had not yet met my own standards," Booker T says of his decision to pursue a Bachelor of Music Education at Indiana University, even though he'd already had much success as a musician. "I wasn't yet writing the music I was hearing in my mind; I had a classical background and a curiosity for all the European greats..."
At Indiana, "I spent many hours listening to the old masters: everything from Bach, to Stravinsky, to Chopin; learning that music and learning how it was put together -- and studying."
Check the interview; Booker T offers a lot of musical wisdom.
In the late 60s there was an act of Congress, I think, that was the beginning of public radio. I think the original intent of it all, or the ostensible intent, was to provide something a bit closer to public access. I think it was usurped by private interests and that the reason they play classical is that it gives them a more solid position; you can't undo the national institution that plays classcial music; it's bigger than life. In turn, I suspect the reason for the popularity of classical music has to do with publishing companies not having to pay royalties to authors; the same reason "It's a Wonderful Life" became an instant classic Chrismas movie. I might be wrong, but I just might be right - because these are very obvious and excellent business strategies.
Of course some of it is the interviewer's ploy, to act sort of as an audience surrogate and play a bit dumb. What she is saying, in taking that pose, is that people don't appreciate the genre for the complex kind of music that it is.
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