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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Opus - and other - snobbery

Music – undefinable, ephemeral, with its own unique language – is ripe for snobs. The humble refer to Beethoven’s fifth symphony, snobs say the C-minor. Tough if you don’t know key signatures but at least Ludwig only wrote nine symphonies. But how about his C-sharp minor piano sonata? – given he wrote 32 of them. That, incidentally, is the Moonlight and snobs would rather burst at the seams than say Moonlight. My mentor, Richard, who was more than a bit of a snob, went even further and called it the Quasi una fantasia sonata.

LvB’s opus numbers are just about snob-manageable at 135 but Mozart’s 600-plus (called KÅ‘chel numbers) are indigestible. And nobody plays this game with Bach whose BWV (Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis) listings run all the way to 1127. In any case this is just a start. When talking about Cosi Fan Tutte snobs never say Soave il vento, always “the first-act trio”. And you’re supposed to know which three instruments solo in LvB’s triple concerto. Anything to make understanding that little bit harder.

I do it myself.

But not with pop, where I’m disadvantaged. Others do it for me. Cliff Richards sells millions of discs but have you ever met anyone who admits to having bought one? Garth Crooks, a country-western singer who wears a suit, is in the top five best-sellers of all time (with Elvis, the Beatles) and yet might as well be a Trappist. Travelling in reverse, when I saw Michael Jackson on telly for the first time I was sure no one could take this horribly mutilated creature seriously. Turned out one, if not both, of my daughters owned discs.

Jazz. The snobbiest, cliquey-ist music of all but I’ve run out of space.

3 comments:

Plutarch said...

Now I feel free to admit to liking music which I know makes the toes of cognoscenti curl with disgust and their lips bud with contempt. But only in Stone Deaf and under a pseudonym. And I am not going to indulge myself or you dear Lorenzo, at the moment. Butleave to your imagination smaples of a taste depraved by tunes. I like a good tune, me.

marja-leena said...

Not being all that knowledgeable about music, like the naming you write about, but loving mostly classical and opera, and some folk music, but only a little pop, heavy metal etc. Does that make me a snob? I don't think this is an issue, for me anyway. There really is something for everyone in all the art forms. But go ahead and have your fun, dear LdP!

Lorenzo da Ponte said...

M-L: Oh dear. I fear I've misinformed you. I wasn't trying to suggest that all people who enjoy posh music are snobs (it would, after all, be a disastrous basis for launching Tone Deaf). Rather that posh music does tend to encourage snobbery. Have you never met a posh music snob? Or does the law forbid it in Canada? I hope I'm not a posh music snob but I am definitely a literary snob. Why else would I constantly make references to Proust and James Joyce? Why else would I feel the necessity to close down WW but to remove the opportunity for these constant references?