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

, File photo

Withering Glance: A classical education

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

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.


CP: I hope he at least got an A on it at the Paris Conservatory, where he would have been, what, a junior?


RN: Meanwhile, I’m trying to picture Claude Peck Sr. dragging you to the mighty Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Yes?


CP: No. I was all about George Harrison, not Sir Georg Solti. I may have been dragged to one CSO show, kicking and screaming. I imagine you have fond memories of the Minnesota Orchestra under Antal Dorati, however.


RN: Please, Skrowaczewski. Possibly Marriner. My first exposure to Orchestra Hall was at a “rug concert.” The hall’s main floor was covered in a platform, and the audience sat on the floor. I think I reclined on a beanbag. I probably thought it was the coolest thing, ever. God love the 1970s.


CP: I picture everyone looking like Robert Evans and Ali MacGraw. Did they have hookahs?


RN: No, dear. That was Sommerfest.



Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib

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