Saturday, 1 August 2009

The Neglect of English Classical Music

By David Hamilton

As T.S.Elliot noted, traditions have to be renewed. The English Music Festival presents English Classical music from Medieval to Contemporary and is renewing a tradition.

Yehudi Menhuin wrote to the Times in 1995, “English composers will not slavishly follow some arbitrary theory or construction, whether political or musical. They have kept their Englishness intact, whilst the mercantilistic world has gone all-American.”

Why is it neglected? Like other aspects of English culture it is the victim of a negative ideology that devalues it with pejorative labels like “elitist” or “narrow” but the labels do not fit reality. English music is not imitative, but innovative. It has developed significantly from the early twentieth century but is still rooted in the English tradition - it is tuneful, melodic, tonal and recognisably English. English Classical Music is hidden by a cloud of prejudice and ignorance and is stigmatised as “elitist” or “quaint” when in fact it has the tonal qualities that people enjoyed before modernism set out to destroy them.

In 2005, the Proms had a number of all-English programmes and all but one sold-out, whereas other non-English music programmes did not. The Gloucester 3 Choirs Festival in 2001 did a special Festival of only English music and sold out swiftly. The BBC Music Magazine has a Top 20 Best sellers list and there is some really interesting English music discs there, often by obscure composers.

Despite a noble heritage, much of this glorious music is overlooked. “English Music” festivals tend to either fail at the outset for lack of funds or become internationalised and absorbed into the Social Engineering Culture. The Cheltenham Festival was founded as “The Cheltenham Festival of British Music”, but went “international” and now stages the same as everywhere else.

Continue reading at The New English Review

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the same way as the addiction to globalism mediocrity 'multi xxculture' erodes unique cultures and their right to be in the majority