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From the music appreciation pamphlet of the 1920s:

How do you listen to music?


a) with your ears
b) through your ears
c) with your brain
d) with your mind
e) with fastidious attention of all the faculties above

The answer is apparently e; but in order to achieve this fastidious attention we need to
make use of a to d, the pamphlet tells us while smoothly evading the mind brain dualism along
the way. The rather pushy tone of this pamphlet is typical central face of the music appreciation
movement which grew out of self-help manuals in the 1890s which fizzled out on the radio
around the 1970s. It proved to be an opening stage in the construction of the modern consumer
with the latest emphasis on the gadgets of aural reproduction. The movement had almost
become a craze. Music appreciation had that very notion of how people evolved to better and
ever better moral beings by listening with fastidious edition to classical music. The movement
was aimed at the working class who after all in the eyes of their betters had a long way to go at
getting better.

This movement started out at the United States close to the 19th century. It did so as a
splinter of the cross of Christian evangelism. Past times such as singing, choir and playing in
bands have been promoted as physically healthy and morally fulfilling, as they had in Britain.
This recreation was said to keep the growing urban workers away from gambling and drink, but
music appreciation was freakish. It’s emphasis was on listening rather than doing. This was
inspired by literary appreciation, where the silent reader and the verbal writer were as one. The
first American music appreciation books were guides to help the hesitant beginners to figure
out constant music on their democratizing path to social integration. Then, the academics got a
hold of it to produce a fresh, scholastic market.

In Britain, it went the other way around. The first British book of the movement was
written by Stewart Macpherson, a professor of the Royal Academy of Music. ‘Music and Its
Appreciation’ came out in 1907. There were three key issues that propelled this British
movement into being: class, nationalism and formalism.First of these concerned the simple
economics of concepts. During the 1890s, the elites of the British cities turned away from the
public exhibitionism of the grand concert; they hosted instead exclusive recitals in private
homes. This upper crust trend of showing off your property was to culminate in the interwar
sensation of the private opera house in Glyndebourne. But this relocation of patronage left a
huge economic hole in the free market fortunes of the public concerts. The solution was to coral
the new suburban audiences and the other aspirant workers they'd been lowed back into the
city centers (by public transport, streets made safe by electric light) to enjoy the new genre of
the musical comedy and for classical music to take them on it needed a mass audience to
narrow down the monetary gap between the upper gallery and the lower gallery. The part of
music appreciation in this was to promote concert going as a worthy occupation. The listener
had a job to do as imperative to the success of the concert as the musician on stage and the
composer’s score, leisure was converted into labor.

Secondly, there was Britain's scrawny cultural status. The Russian pianist Anton
Rubinstein made this clear in his autobiography in 1882. He wrote “I speak friendly but without
malice... among the English, not more than 2% of the people can be found with any knowledge
of music. Even the Americans have a higher appreciation of music than the English.” Early
music appreciation writers tended to agree with this but with a historical condition: they accused
immigrants of the early 18th and 19th centuries of taking over the musical culture, a musical
dark age they called it. Later on, writers blamed the church of England for bathing British music
in the blood of the lamb, obsessed with oratorios and liturgical dreariness.

The third issue was the need to elevate music as an intellectual act. The problems
around that have certainly been given by foreign influence. During the 19th century German
music and German thought of music had the supreme influence on the British scene. Several
British composers trained in Berlin and the roots of the appreciation movement can be found in
German tracks. According to Eduard Hanslick, a German music critic, “Instrumental music is the
purest because it refers to nothing but itself.” He despised the idea that music represented
feelings. He pointed out that a forest may be cool and shady but it doesn't represent the feelings
of coolness and shadiness. His influence was profound and it's set at the heart of the music
appreciation agenda which insisted on the autonomy of music and to explain how this is so. The
problem is that they took this formalism at the time when Richard Strauss showed just how
much materialistic music could be. Strauss proudly pointed out that for the first time in an
orchestral score his cowbells represented cows.

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