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Was Beethoven A “Rock Star”?

Joseph Horowitz’s book, Moral Fire, describes audiences “screaming” and “standing on chairs” during classical concerts in the 1890s. The New York Times records an audience that “wept and shouted, strung banners across the orchestra pit and the heads of the audience and “clapped unrestrainedly” when listening to their favorite opera singer at the Met in the 1920s.

An analysis of classical music’s average audience age over time, shows that “Classical Music” remained most popular with thirty-something’s rather than “grey-hairs” until the late 1960s

Beethoven was not a traditionalist. No one was expected to keep quiet during his performances either. The music was much too wild, too complex, too dramatic and demanding. The audience complained or praised at will, just as they do today at rock concerts.

In spite of all this “revolutionary fervor” that Beethoven helped create, his music is placed in the “classical music“ genre, which means modern audiences must quietly in their seats and register enthusiasm with mere applause and restrained “Bravo’s”.

It’s a different world. Yet music is music, and it’s supposed to stir emotion. Music creates emotion. Is it any wonder “classical music” lags far behind Rock, Reggae and other modern forms of music that allow one to express their feelings with more than just polite applause?