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Fifty Shades of Kvetching

50-shadesI keep hearing about the best-seller "Fifty Shades of Grey" and its classical music connections.

Apparently the leading man in the book is really into classical music and also is an extremely accomplished pianist.

Just now I went on Amazon and did that thing where you peek inside the book, and I was dismayed by how tawdry it sounded, and how badly written I thought it was. You know, I had heard the title kicked around for I want to say a few months, but I had never wondered what the book was about. Of course it's about sex, you know?

But more power to her, pleasing the least common denominator. I had a roommate a long time ago who used to look at me and say, "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?"

Back to the classical music. I guess I am happy for anything that helps people discover how easy it is to love classical music. I have always loved it and though I know classical music is intimidating to some people, I find it hard to get into those people's shoes.

Also because I am writing a book about a concert pianist, Buffalo native Leonard Pennario, I generally rejoice whenever anyone else writes anything about a handsome classical pianist. It seems that even if people know next to nothing about classical piano, the glamorous image of the pianist has timeless allure. That is good news for me!

On the other hand, in fiction, why do these classical pianists always have to be sinister nuts?

Like Hannibel Lecter, you saw him playing Bach's "Goldberg" Variations.

I am not saying that pianists are not nuts, but do they have to make them so seamy and sinister? It just promotes this unfair stereotype, of the musicians and of the music. I mean, people get the idea that anyone who listens to classical music is, well, worrisome.

Also I have seen classical music nerds Twittering about how one of the pieces referred to within the seamy context of "Fifty Shades of Grey" is music by the Elizabethan composer Thomas Tallis. If you love a piece of music and believe it is beautiful and sacred you do not care for it to be used in a context that drags it through the dirt. I mean, what good is it if people listen to Thomas Tallis and forever think of whatever cruddy thing was going on in this book when they played it?

Stay beautiful, and listen to that lovely Thomas Tallis piece here, on The Gusto Blog.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman



Books | Music
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