In a two-part piece exploring the notion of “the amateur” in classical music, posted Tuesday and Wednesday (5/26-27) on her Washington Post blog, Post classical-music critic Anne Midgette writes, “I’ve always been interested in the role so-called amateurs have played in classical music. There was nothing condescending in the idea of an ‘amateur’ in late 18th-century Vienna. Amateurs were simply people who loved music. … I think most of us who love music are sorry that the general experience of it has evolved (or devolved) from active to passive. Where once the audience bought piano arrangements and played chamber music at home, fans now are simply listeners, whether in the concert hall or at home on CD.” In part two she writes, “So where does my support of amateurism—in the sense of loving music—leave me as a critic, whose job appears to be less about loving music than tearing it down? Or, more simply: what does it mean for a critic to love music? This is something that is often misunderstood about my job. Loving music, to a critic, cannot simply mean bestowing praise. … I’m not saying that critics should set out not to like music; indeed, I am always rooting for the performer and the show when I sit down. … I think simply being nice about performances represents amateurism in the worst, pejorative sense. A professional critic manifests amateurism in the sense I’d like it to have—a deep love of music—through engagement.”

Posted May 29, 2009