[Note: This post has been updated (3) as of 11:19 PM Eastern on 15 May. See below.]
And I think I'm beginning to understand just how Don Quixote must have felt on observing the response of those who witnessed him tilting at all his various windmills.
This time it's music theorist Scott Spiegelberg of Musical Perceptions, who writes in part in this post:
One reason why lay people are resistant to attending classical concerts is from fear of appearing uncultured. [...] I have been working on respecting these people's opinions, and in engaging in a dialogue about the music rather than a lecture.
I think it is okay to challenge the opinions of neophytes, but said challenges should not be based on the weight of authority, and always with the philosophy of chacun à son goût.
What could Dr. Spiegelberg possibly mean by saying such people "fear ... appearing uncultured." It's not a matter of "appearing." They are uncultured, and should be made to understand that — gently and pleasantly, of course, so long as they don't go about brandishing their ignorance as if it were a banner to be saluted — and their opinions granted no measure of "respec[t]" whatsoever beyond one's respecting their right to hold such opinions no matter how ignorant.
As to challenging those neophyte opinions, in the case of the established classical music canon what more apposite, concise, and easily understood challenge than a challenge based on authority. In the case of the established classical music canon there are centuries (or in the case of canonical 20th-century works, close to a century) of received expert opinion and the almost universal judgment of history informing such a challenge, which challenge should never be engaged in "always with the philosophy of chacun à son goût." The very idea is absurd. When one gets right down to it, neophytes are incompetent even to hold an opinion beyond saying they simply don't "get it," which in turn is the perfect opening for providing the uncultured, ignorant neophyte instructive and patient explanations, suggestions, and answers to questions should he appear the least genuinely interested in "getting it." Any "dialogue" between the well-informed and the ignorant can take place only on such terms.
The notion that the granting of respect to uncultured opinions and to ignorance, and the adoption of an attitude of chacun à son goût will somehow facilitate enlightenment, and help to gain and educate an audience for classical music is, not to put too fine a point on it, simply preposterous.
Update (11:47 PM Eastern on 12 May): Scott Spiegelberg responds. I would only point out to Dr. Spiegelberg that the lack of a comments section on almost all posts on this blog is not due my not "car[ing] to engage in dialogue," as Dr. Spiegelberg put it, but rather my not caring to sponsor and provide the space for the opinions of others. Every time I write something here such as the above post, I do so always with the hope, even the expectation, that it in fact will encourage dialogue; blog-to-blog dialogue; the very sort represented by Dr. Spiegelberg's own posted response to this post on his blog, which posted response is linked above. That Dr. Spiegelberg's posted response dealt with my points merely by characterizing them as "dogmatic" and "close-minded" (Lordy!, how I do love that concise, all-purpose, '60s-vintage-Leftist retort to just about everything contra), and defended his points merely by saying he "want[s] to share [his] love of music with others, and to learn about other views of music," is quite another matter altogether.
Update 2 (5:59 PM Eastern on 13 May): The uncultured, classical-music-ignorant hordes give angry vent to their outrage at my remarks. Be certain to read all the attached comments as of the time of this update (more of the same will follow, I suspect). They're absolutely priceless.
Update 3 (11:19 PM Eastern on 15 May): And the beat goes on. The clueless arrogance of the culturally benighted displayed by the writer of this post is typical of our populist dominated, pop-culture contaminated era wherein culturally ignorant airheads have the unmitigated chutzpah to adopt an attitude that implies that by their agreeing (with conditions, no less!) to give a prove-it-to-me listen to proposed selections from the classical music repertory they're doing classical music and the knowledgeable classical music community a favor(!).
O tempora! O mores!
[Note: This post was posted originally on 11 May.]