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Why Classical Music Shouldn’t Be Underappreciated

A woman playing a song on the piano. Classical music is one of the most beautiful musical genres. Illustration by Everette Cogswell.

Classical music is an art form that has been around for centuries. Usually, classical music is thought to be boring, specifically by teens and children. However, there are many things the classical genre can bring to the table that are often looked past. Classical music continues to be undermined by pop songs despite the many benefits and overall enjoyment it can bring. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I grew very fond of classical pieces after many years of finding it boring, and I have found many reasons why it should be far more appreciated. 

When it comes to the world of classical music, specifically in Portland, we are very fortunate to have easy access to a symphony orchestra. The Oregon Symphony is an orchestra based in Portland. It was founded in 1896, and is the sixth oldest orchestra in the United States. David Ewart, an American Violinist, says “we have in Portland such a remarkable opportunity for people of all ages to enjoy that iconic orchestra.” Oregon is very lucky to have a symphony of its own, and the overall exposure to classical music in Portland is quite large; “to live in Portland and to not expose yourself to the classical music or to the arts is a tremendous loss of opportunity,” Ewart comments. 

One of my favorite things about classical music is the story it can tell. No matter what song you are listening to, it is open to your own interpretation. Oftentimes people think of classical music as boring, slow moving songs with no lyrics, however, if you look at it through a storytelling lens, it can be far more entertaining. Some pieces are created to tell a story such as classical scores from movies or operas, and others are meant for the imagination. “In olden times when classical music was written […] there weren’t as many other distractions so they went into a lot of detail about the picture they were painting or the story they were telling,” Ewart explains. While it’s true that some pieces are excessively long, it is not true for all pieces; some classical songs can create a story in just a short duration of two minutes, while others are upwards of thirty. 

Just like any genre of music there are times and places where listening to classical music can be beneficial, such as studying or doing homework. Many people prefer to listen to music while studying, claiming it helps them focus, myself included. However, whenever I choose to listen to music with lyrics I often find myself caught up in them, ultimately leading to getting less work done. Recently, I have discovered that classical music is perfect to listen to while studying because it creates mellow background noise without distracting words or phrases. 

Classical music can provide scores for any kind of mood while all fitting into one genre, making it one the the most diverse musical kingdoms. Some prefer sadder classical pieces, while some may prefer happy or energetic pieces, all which you can find throughout the classical realm. One thing that has caused me to grow fond of classical music is the feeling of being transported to a different world when feeling stressed. Even just as background noise, the genre can take you to a whole different headspace. 

There are many TV shows and movies that would simply feel incomplete without the addition of their classical scores, such as the Netflix original series “Bridgerton,” and many iconic Disney movies, such as “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Fantasia.” Although classical music isn’t particularly focused on in many films, the classical music contribution is vital to projects in the film industry, due to the fact that it makes you feel a certain emotion, sometimes without even noticing it.

Whenever I mention my liking for classical music, it is usually met with the question, why? Not only does it convey more emotions than any other genre, but it is very easy to grow to appreciate it. Most people who see classical music as boring, just haven’t found the right type to suit their taste. Classical music comes in many forms, so it can take a lot of time to explore the classical domain, but when you find the right kind of classical music for you, it is well worth it.

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