“If classical music really sounded the way it’s described in radio ads, composers would have fallen asleep while writing it,” writes Jennifer Gersten in Friday’s (11/30) Washington Post. “ ‘You’ve found an oasis—a place where you can get away from all the craziness,’ intones WCLV … in … a recent promotion…. Works like Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata and Vivaldi’s ‘The Four Seasons’ are not played to be heard and felt, but rather as precursors to a nap. This is a deeply unsatisfying way to describe one of our most storied art forms. Even music that is superficially calm and slow can contain depth, tension and difficult themes…. Insisting that classical music is a proxy for a day at the spa prescribes a proper reaction to this music before we have even begun to listen to it as a form of self-care…. The idea that classical music is always relaxing shares a problem with the idea that it is merely entertainment for the upper crust: Both seek to put classical music into a padlocked box, when a more enlightened view of the music would come from encouraging us to think about it for ourselves.”

Posted December 4, 2018