Withering Glance: A classical education

  • Article by: RICK NELSON and CLAUDE PECK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 16, 2013 - 2:21 PM

A Minnesota Orchestra "rug concert" at Orchestra Hall in June 1976.

Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.


CP: My mom blasted classical music at me in my crib, but it didn’t really “take” until much later.


RN: I didn’t think they could squeeze all of Britten’s “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” onto a 78.


CP: Excuse me while I refrain from laughing. Despite being nursed on Prokofiev, my first 33 rpm record was Frank Zappa. I fed my tinnitus with Marantz quad speakers and ear-splitting rock shows until I was in my late early middle age. Now, I get my kicks watching patrons older than me cover their ears at Orchestra Hall during a really loud John Adams moment.


RN: The last time we were at Orchestra Hall — it seems like forever, doesn’t it? — it looked as if most of our fellow concertgoers were older than you. Holy aging demographics, Batman!


CP: Everytime I see a young person at a classical concert, I have an urge to congratulate them — and interview them. My assumption is that the only people under 30 who go to hear classical are music students on a class assignment, going, “Like, where’s the beer and the glowsticks?”


RN: Based on price alone, the kids should be all over it. Compared to the investment that is a Lady Gaga concert ticket, a night at the SPCO or MO — when they’re playing, anyway — is downright cheap.


CP: And this despite how much great music was composed by relative infants. Mozart was a child prodigy, Beethoven wrote three concertos and a symphony before he was 30, and Schubert kicked the bucket at age 31.


RN: Bizet created one of my favorite orchestral works — his Symphony in C Major — when he was 17. He never heard it performed, and it was discovered decades later in an archive.


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