|Muti and the CSO: from The Chicago Reader (Jan 2013)|
Classic music is too old fashioned—it’s all ballroom dancing, white gloves, and cups of tea. Why should anyone in the 21st century listen to it?
If this were true, movie soundtracks wouldn’t be dominated by symphony orchestras. Orchestral music is in our blood, and everything from the Jaws theme to the “shower scene” in Psycho reminds us of this. Moments of great emotion, suspense, romance, anguish, fury, and revelation always reach to the seemingly endless resources of the modern symphony orchestra. A great instance of this is in the conversation between the alien ships and the scientists in Close Encounters of the Third Kind: they use music to find a common language, with the humans (ironically) using synthesizers while the aliens respond with tubas and other brass. It’s a thrilling scene and it suggests something mythic about orchestral music and its ability to evoke fantastic worlds both past and present. When you listen to past masters such as Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, etc., the emotions are right there—as raw as the day they were written, full of beauty, despair, anger, and pathos. Like any art, it doesn’t age, and an attentive listener can sit down and become part of the drama.