Classical music and jazz: A reply to Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune

Classical music and jazz: A reply to Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune

I was, and am, delighted by Howard Reich's column in the Nov. 25 Chicago Tribune on the joys of reviewing both jazz and classical concerts for the Tribune. (If you missed it, here's a link.)

As an amateur cello player and lover of good music, meaning I listened to Beethoven while starting to write this, I was pleased to see descriptions of concerts in both the classical and jazz worlds (or, to use a word common to both journalism and music, beats).

But while I love the idea that "both art forms aspire toward the same goal," I think Reich misses part of his own point by criticizing the classical groups for being unreachable due to expense.

I still carry my ticket to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's concert on June 22 of this year -- it is in my wallet as a reminder of a night of glorious music by Rossini and others, some of it among the more sublime things I've heard this year.

It was worth saving for. It was valuable, not merely expensive. We have some of the finest, most valuable music, and musicians, right here in Chicago.

If you want to try classical music, or if you know you love it and just need what you can afford, the expensive concerts don't have to be alone. Add WFMT radio (98.7 FM), the Civic Orchestra, or the Grant Park Concerts of summer. (There's a thought for a snowy day.)  So there's plenty of classical music in town to enjoy while you're saving up for a great night at the Chicago Symphony or Lyric Opera.

Meanwhile, I am thinking differently about the jazz world after Reich's comments. It's probably still too casual for me, but I'm more likely to give it a try. I've come a long way since a co-worker once asked me "If it doesn't have a cello part, you don't like it, do you?"

Well, "Yesterday" and "Eleanor Rigby" are two of my favorite songs of "the rock era." (I can't call them rock 'n' roll in good conscience.)

But, if jazz is "our classical music," as Howard Reich wrote, I'll work on giving it a try, too.

But I'll keep up the Bach, Tchaikovsky and Saint-Saens on my cello at the same time.

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Filed under: Music and language

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  • A lot of Classical composers in the modern era have incorporated jazz elements in their music. Gershwin, of course, coming first to mind. Joplin syncopated. And if Mozart and Beethoven were alive today, imagine how they would improvise at the keyboard.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Good thinking, as usual. Thanks!

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