Those of you even faintly familiar with classical music know Beethoven wrote only (only!) nine symphonies. I hope the title makes sense as you read on.
As of have grown older and more mature, I have found a new interest in Jazz and classical music. As an intermediate-early advanced classical guitar player, I have always had a fondness for music composed or transcribed for the classical guitar. Recently, however, I stored 91.5 FM KUSC classical radio station on my dial, and I do listen to it from time to time. For clarification, I am not one of those boring (subjective term) surgeons who listen to classical music in the operating room. My iPod nano has an eclectic mix of artists from Gotye and Foster the People to Brubek and Tarrega.
It has been really difficult to watch television with our 16 month old daughter and 3 week old infant girl. Last night, in one of those rare occasions, I was able to watch some TV. I was able to watch part of the MTV Video Music Awards. Rihanna won best video and then I watched Taylor Swift sing her new single. At 10PM, I switched channel to KCET (support public television!) since I was fascinated with the program title “Discover Beethoven’s 5th”. In this one hour program, the Discovery Orchestra played and then analyzed the fifth symphony in a fun yet detailed manner. I always admired Beethoven, but man, was he a genius! This symphony, perhaps his best known work, was written when Beethoven had lost most of his hearing! He also conducted the first performance himself! Amazingly, we still know and recognize this piece of music, even though it was composed two hundred years ago. Can you say the same about Taylor Swift or Rihanna?
As I listened and marveled at the brilliance of this composition, I could not help but compare this music with the music I had heard a few minutes ago at the MTV VMA. What would Beethoven or Bach say if they listened to today’s popular music: horror, anger, amazement???
Towards the last third of his life, Beethoven’s hearing loss had affected him immensely. Listen carefully to the fifth symphony and hear episodes of intense anger and tension. You can’t even come close with today’s music! Perhaps Beethoven would have composed a tenth symphony, “The Angry” symphony as a response to today’s music?
So why is classical music not as popular, even though it is much more complex and interesting? I like to compare this to a chess puzzle or a complex wine. Anyone with a basic knowledge of chess can solve a simple mate in 2 or mate in 3 moves puzzle. We then enjoy and congratulate ourselves for being able to solve the puzzle. What about a mate in 5 moves which involves sacrificing a queen and a rook? Only the experienced chess player can solve this puzzle. There will be great enjoyment and pride in solving it. Yet the novice player simply does not get it, and will become frustrated. I have had the same response trying to have my relatives enjoy complex wines. They simply do not understand the wine, due to lack of experience, or a lack of desire to want to learn about wine.
I think the same goes for classical music. In my opinion, as a culture, we have become too lazy to try to enjoy things which require some effort on our part. We, therefore, gravitate towards music which has a simple, upbeat tempo with simple lyrics we can easily remember. Our lack of activity has caused one third of our country to become obese (body mass index over 30). Most patients with body mass index over 30 will not be good candidates for body sculpturing procedures. Furthermore, we do not want to take responsibility for our own actions, instead blaming others and burdening our already over-worked legal system with frivolous law suits (can you ever forget the lady who sued Mc Donald’s for spilling coffee on her lap???)
So get on your feet and stop being lazy! Classical music, especially if you are young, is not considered “cool”. I get it. However, hopefully this blog will inspire you to explore classical music in private!
Michael A. Jazayeri, M.D. is a board certified plastic surgeon with over 12 years of experience. His office is located in Orange County, California. To schedule a complimentary consultation, please call 714-834-0101.