We’re nearly there!

Say not the struggle naught availeth…


All those diatribes against “elitism” and ”cultural imperialism”, all that sneering at “dead white men”, all those passionate arguments for ditching Mozart in the classroom in favour of the latest flavour of the month – at long last, all that effort finally bearing fruit! Already, 75% of young Brits have never heard of Mozart. Just a bit more effort, ladies and gentlemen, and I’m sure we can push it up to 100% in no time, and the products of human civilisation can be consigned to the dustbin where they belong.

10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by David Gouldstone on November 27, 2019 at 9:45 am

    I wouldn’t put too much faith in surveys like this. It was conducted by something calling itself ‘Primephonic’; I can’t find anything about the methodology they used, but I’d be deeply suspicious of its validity. (It was reported in the ‘Mail on Sunday’, which rings alarm bells in itself.)

    I taught teenagers for 36 years, and while it’s true that the great majority of them have little or no interest in classical music (the same is true of most adults too, of course), they’re nothing like as ignorant as this survey suggests.

    On a slightly different note, when I was in my 20s Mozart was my favourite composer, but now, while I still love the operas and chamber music, the rest often seems just too polite. Beautifully polite, but still polite. The symphonies and violin concertos? Meh.


    • It is true that details of how this survey was conducted aren’t given, and as such, I shouldn’t have put too much emphasis on it. But leaving this particular survey aside, general awareness of what is termed “high culture” is distressingly low, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the results of this survey proved to be accurate. Particularly distressing is the denigration of this culture in the name of anti-elitism or anti-racism, often by those who, one might have thought, should know better.

      On the matter of Mozart, everyone has, of course, their own personal taste, and that, of course, is fair enough. Speaking for myself (and not merely for myself), I know of no music greater than, say, Mozart’s late symphonies,


  2. Cheer up! Think what an exclusive club we will be when you and I and a few other aging remnants can have a claim to “remember” Mozart.


  3. Posted by Mudpuddle on November 29, 2019 at 6:48 pm



  4. Posted by Chris Jennings on November 30, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    I’m sure this has something to do with the absolute triumph of pop culture in our civilisation, though exactly how I’m not sure. Nevertheless, there will always be some people fascinated by the achievements of the past who make the effort to acquaint themselves with them. But maybe it’s always been like this? I remember reading Petrarch lamenting the terrible decline of interest in poetry and how people are now interested only in making money. But this was before Shakespeare and the great line of English poets, and Dante had died only recently.

    Maybe there’ll be a new kind of artist who creates dazzling, incalculable works of genius in a fusion of high art and pop culture, accessible to all. Or maybe, as Lawrence once said, we’ll all become idiots and so none of us will ever know it.


    • I think the absolute triumph of pop culture, as you put it, has something to do with it. Which doesn’t mean I am damning pop culture en masse: inherent merit is not correlated with popularity, either positively or negatively. But the elevation of the popular simply because it is popular surely cannot create a healthy environment for the arts.

      And yes, the fears I am expressing have always been expressed, I agree. But maybe these fears always have been legitimate! Maybe the barbarians always have been at the gates, and it has only been our continued vigilance that has, on the whole, kept them at bay! I don’t know – as you may have guessed, I am just talking off the top of my head here.

      What does worry me are the various ideologies that have sprung up that judge works of art by criteria other than that of inherent artistic merit. Thee ideologies are widely held both in the groves of academia, and also in the wider world outside. But yes, maybe I fear too much. I won’t dispute it!


      • Posted by Chris Jennings on December 3, 2019 at 8:39 pm

        “What does worry me are the various ideologies that have sprung up that judge works of art by criteria other than that of inherent artistic merit. Thee ideologies are widely held both in the groves of academia, and also in the wider world outside.”

        I’m looking forward to a new book next year from John M. Ellis assessing the current state of the American universities, twenty years after he published ‘Literature Lost’, which detailed the effects of the politically-obsessed theory that took over most of the humanities, and, incredibly, has since started to make inroads into STEM subjects.

        I’ve been following these developments for a few years now, on sites like Heterodox Academy, partly from a sort of fascinated horror, but also because what happens in the US tends to be imported here a few years later, and increasingly more rapidly.

  5. The lack of knowledge of and interest in serious music is beyond question, but I agree with the first comment that perhaps these findings have been exaggerated. Some years back there was a survey which “showed” that one in 20 schoolchildren thought that Hitler was a German football coach. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/6507969/Adolf-Hitler-was-a-German-football-coach-say-one-in-20-children.html I find that impossible to believe, unless some of the kids were trying to be funny. In the case at hand, I’d want to know more about the demographic make-up of those questioned before I took the result of the survey too seriously. And let’s not forget that some people wear ignorance of music, real or feigned, as a badge of honour.

    That doesn’t mean we should be complacent, of course. Sir Thomas Beecham said that if he became dictator he would make make it compulsory for everyone to listen to at least 15 minutes of Mozart daily. The old boy had a point!


    • Yes, I agree with you both: in retrospect, I really should have hung my anger on a more stronger peg. There should certainly have been greater detail on the details of the poll.

      As for Mozart, I think he remains my desert island composer. I listened to the sinfonia concertante a couple of nights ago. And I remembered why I tend not to write as much as I would like about music: I was, as ever, lost for words. And it’s hard to write when you’re lost for words!


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