A matter of debate: the relevance of classical music to today’s youth

Tonight, the Cambridge Union sees author, actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry take on Radio 1 DJ Kissy Sell Out in a debate over the statement ‘Classical music is irrelevant to today’s youth.’

Debating hall

Hall of Debate: image credit Oxford Royale Academy

Now, there are gazillions of reasons on either side of this issue, too numerous to go into here: my only question is whether ‘irrelevant’ is the right term here: is ‘relevancy’ itself relevant ? Is it the right question to be asking ?

There are many issues of relevance to youth, but deciding what is and what isn’t comes down to questions of taste, interest, culture, upbringing, and so forth: skateboarding, for instance, is a hugely popular pastime, but is it ‘relevant’ ? Asking whether music is relevant is like asking whether skateboarding is relevant.

Education and the culture of the domestic environment may make young people ‘aware’ of these things, but it’s surely up to the individual person to decide what’s relevant to them, and what isn’t. Parental interests and school curriculum priorities may furnish children with the opportunity to explore painting, music, literature, skateboarding, kite-surfing and the like, but they will come to them for themselves. Defining onself is what adolescence, in part, is all about.

Perhaps the issue should be over accessibility: ‘Classical music is inaccessible to today’s youth’ ?’


One Response

  1. But Bill Bailey and Anne Dudley (of Art of Noise)attempted to make classical music accessible to young people with the ‘Remarkable Guide To The Orchestra’ concert and eventual DVD!

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