Thursday, December 23

So sue me.

Distinctions between "highbrow" and "middlebrow" are formulated by self-anointed cultural snobs who denigrate those they label "middlebrow" to re-affirm their identity by labelling themselves as "highbrow". Anything that originally started out favored by the cognoscenti that becomes known by those outside their clique is in a way contaminated, and no longer worthy of "highbrow" appreciation.

I've just discovered Brahms' Piano Quartet No. 2 in A major, Op. 26, of which one John Keillor writes,
...Brahms does not shy away from including popular references in his music, including a burst of schmaltzy waltz music in the quartet's second movement, a Romanze featuring an overall discipline that allows for the occasional glimpse into camp without lowing the music's overall standard.
I loved this whole quartet the first time I heard it, but I just don't hear anything schmaltzy or camp. I think it was Brahms I mentioned as a favorite to a college professor, and he remarked that my taste was "bourgeois". He was French. (It's a good thing I didn't tell him that I also liked Saint-Saëns's piano concertos).

Anyway, this joins Mozart's Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, K. 478 as another favorite piano quartet, together with my old favorite Schumann's Piano Quartet, Op.47.

So call me middlebrow, bourgeois, or a lover of schmaltz. I don't care. Take a look at the picture below:

From from Russell Lynes’ The Tastemakers: The Shaping of American Popular Taste via, who also cites Clement Greenberg and Virginia Woolf. To hell with them.

Oh, and read Jim Emerson's post and the comments. Emerson quotes Sam Anderson's review of Carl Wilson's Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste:
Hating Céline [Dion] is therefore not just an aesthetic choice, but an ethical one, a way to elevate yourself above her fans—who, according to market research, tend to be disproportionately poor adult women living in flyover states and shopping at big-box stores.
By the way, I think Céline Dion is OK, and I don't mean I'm enjoying her ironically. So there.

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