Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Media clone ? not Yundi Li

What is it about pianists (and to a lesser extent violinists) that attracts fervid romantic excess ? Could a tuba player or contrabassoonist have audiences swooning and wanting the T shirt ? It's not a modern thing, as this portrait of Paderewski (1920) epitomizes. Marketing ever was what it is now. Only now the media reaches wider than ever before. In principle, so what ? Classical music can be fun. Some of the mass audience will eventually grow up and maybe develop "taste". Unfortunately I suspect "taste" whatever that means will always be a minority thing. So for the hold outs against mass values, I hold a candle.

Here is an article about Yundi Li getting sidelined because he doesn't fit the marketing template. Although the article has some odd perspectives it does raise issues about media clones. (like he sees things in race terms) Pity is that some perfectly decent musicians get caught up in the Faustian pact. But that's what mass audiences want. Bread or art, was ever the choice. But marketing per se isn't the demon. There always will be millions more who prefer flashy to refined. There's wise and there's cynical, as in every industry. It's just easy to grab on a kid with a pretty face and sob story and make him the Messiah. In this cynical world it's also too easy to sneer at the talented "because" they are good. Some very genuine Messiahs are out there who do have pretty faces and stories but "taste" is what helps us spot the real ones.

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