I just took a satirical whack at this elsewhere but couldn’t resist briefly pointing it out here where someone might read and enjoy it. Thanks to Topix.net’s classical music feed I found a UPI story about J.S. Bach’s failure to make it into the top 30 of Classic FM’s top-300 poll. Here are the choice quotes:

The 18th-century German baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach failed to place any of his music in the Top 30 favorites of 67,328 listeners who voted in Classic FM’s 11th annual poll….

I love the way they put it–”Bach failed to place any of his music…” You can imagine how the failure just killed the poor guy. For some reason it makes me think of the philosopher’s soccer game from Monty Python.

Darren Henley of Classic FM, said Bach’s music just wasn’t catchy enough.

“He’s the fifth most popular composer overall, with 10 works in our Top 300, but he maybe hasn’t got any of those seminal works that people are passionate about,” Henley said….

The number one was Vaughn Williams’s Lark Ascending.

Somehow, for me at least, the utter banality of it puts the Joshua Bell story in perspective (and I mean this story in particular, though the poll itself is plenty stupid). The way it comes up on moldova.org adds another layer of absurdity. They have those ads that pop up when the mouse passes over certain phrases, like “Violin Concerto” (“Compare and Save at Shopping.com”). Isn’t this one of the signs of the apocalypse?

3 Responses to “And now for something completely banal”
  1. Daniel says:

    Classic FM is a British mag, so V-W and Elgar being top two doesn’t surprise me.

  2. KUSC here in SoCal plays mostly secular works by Bach. These are fine, if a bit overexposed, but you really meet the man in his sacred works. Maybe this has something to do with the poll results.

  3. T.D. Lake says:

    Well, granted that we need to think of the audience that is voting, which Daniel says is British…

    I got in a very heated argument with some people at a myspace classical music forum about Baroque music. As someone who is influence by the Baroque in my composition, (baroque intellectualism I’ve heard it called) I tend to spend hours listening to Bach and Scarlatti keyboard works. Most people there said that they have “no emotion,” and that they prefer romantic composition.

    My counterpoint was that Bach and Scarlatti are indeed dry, but they have a very high intensity level that never flags throughout a work, and while not flashy in dynamics and velocity, to me the works carry a lot of emotional weight. Enter “baroque intellecualism.”

    Other than bad journalism… (Bach’s works are seminal and he’s not in Heaven disappointed about Classical FM’s ratings of his work) I’d say people just don’t have an ear for Bach. I’ve heard St. Matthew Passion described as “boring” and the keyboard works earn remarks like “obscure,” “emotionless,” and so on. To me it’s some of the best music ever written.