Special isn’t Better

I can trace my love of classical music from the moment, aged 11, I attended my first musical appreciation lesson and the needle of a badly battered record player dropped with a loud thump onto a scratchy recording of Holst's The Planets. Then I heard sounds that excited me in a way that somehow the recordings of Deep Purple and King Crimson my brothers played never did.

— Armando Iannucci, “Classical Music, the Love of My Life” (The Guardian, 13 May, 2006)

This is an old article (at least by internet standards), but it’s been making the rounds again recently, and it always gives me a lot of feelings. It’s an excellent speech, and there’s so much that could be said about it, from the importance of early music education to the non-judgemental openness of people who don’t know what they’re not “supposed” to like, from the sacredness of the paradoxically private experience of going to a live concert to not being moved by Mozart and so much more. But today I want to zoom in on that one quote, because it touches on an attitude that’s pretty common among classical musicians, and it’s one that makes me deeply uncomfortable.

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