Man Loves What He Thinks Classical Music Should Be
John Man, book-owner and bread-squeezer, attended another incredible concert of classical music this week. He found the performance to be exciting, brilliant, and extremely musical, as he usually does. As a result, he is going to continue believing some drivel about how classical music is dying and people don’t perform it the right way anymore.
“Most of the concerts I saw last year were incredible,” he said. “But my very real enjoyment was marred by my idealistic dismay about how music making is not as free and exciting as it once was. That’s why I’m not a soloist: the music industry just doesn’t cater to real talent.”
Man believes that concerts can be divided into two categories: ones that happened in the distant past, which are good, and ones that happen now, which aren’t as good. “No matter how well or freely or stylishly people play today, I won’t let anything encroach on my idealised vision of what music making used to be like. Except for all the concerts I actually see, which I tend to enjoy.”
Man listens to lots of recordings from the early 20th century in order to give his generalisations some substance. “When you listen to an early recording of the world’s best musicians,” he said, “you have to infer that all musicians of the time were just as good. But if you listen to recordings of the best musicians alive today, it’s obvious that they are just an exception to the rule. I should know, because I only believe rules that I make up myself. I’m very consistent.”
Though Man does play an instrument himself, he refuses to do so if anybody tries to listen. “Of course I would be delighted to perform in public,” he said, “but people don’t appreciate my art. When people listen I can’t help but be distracted by their negative vibes; it’s as if they are judging me by today’s standards! Mother told me I could achieve anything I set my mind to, so I prefer to think pure thoughts free from negative real-world influences.”
Man hopes that by trying to understand the perfect way people played in the Golden Age, and by honing his own secret performances until they embody the Golden Age, he will become an expert in a way that real experts can’t appreciate. “That’s how I know classical music is dying,” he said. “The more I imagine it to be dying, the more it seems like it is dying, and that’s all I care about.”