You see 5 children, two boy, three girls. On the left is the oldes boy, next is the oldest girl. Next is a girl, than a boy again and finally a girl. They are on the floor and they are looking to the photographer. All children are smiling.
You see 5 children, two boy, three girls. On the left is the oldes boy, next is the oldest girl. Next is a girl, than a boy again and finally a girl. They are on the floor and they are looking to the photographer. All children are smiling.

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What Is Classical Music? What Is Popular Classic? And What Is Young Classic Then?

Yes ... what is classical music, actually? And what is popular classic, then? And you hardly ever read about young classical music. You can't really find good answers to these three questions anywhere on the Internet. Some people do try, namely Wikipedia and the Bayerischer Rundfunk BR (Bavarian Broadcast). The "Board of Music" is also at the forefront. But ... 

I think the question of what classical music is deserves an extra website. And in the meantime it exists. You can get to it by clicking here. 

Of course, we - my wife Renate and I, too - are always thinking about how best to accompany to Johann Sebastian Bach. Namely, kids, teens, teachers, parents and grandparents. And after many years, the way via classical music in general seemed to us to be a really good one. But then also via schools. That's why I created my "Teaching Material Classical Music" and compiled a Classical Music Top 100. ✓

With a click on the black link... you get to the shops.



Better Don't Read this Section if You Are Too Young! Because Here Is only how It Doesn't Work! This Section Is for Older Kids, Teens and Adults!

But ... I'm getting to the point now. So ... in the next section, under the first picture. First, my opinion on the other results on page 1 on the question "What is classical music?". First of all, it is always about the epoch ( ! ) of classical music. That ... is something quite different – and in the sense – as when you speak of classical music or ... by proxy ... of classic. "I like classical music" therefore refers to classical music and not the epoch of classic. Like how google today is synonymous (... a common word) for researching on the Internet and if I were to explain what googling is, I would reply, "First of all, Google refers to one specific company with this name". So, the explanation ... pi times thumb. So to Board of Music (... in Germany and in German and I translated that for you). That's where it continues. There it also states: "Classical music is art music". What is that? So other music is not art? And it explains that it's not about classical music by Turks, Arabs, Indians and Chinese. Logical, actually, isn't it? And classical music offers a "distinction from pop music". What a nonsense: So no demarcation from jazz, folk music, rap, heavy metal, rock 'n' roll? Of course, the terms "serious music" and "light music" "had" to be included, even if they don't make any sense as an explanation. 


For the serious German newspaper, Badische Zeitung, classical works are " especially valuable" and "timelessly" beautiful. Well, okay.  ✓


Ronald Kah, himself a composer, again defines it incorrectly in terms of the question "What is classical music?", because this stringing together of words only allows the description of the type of music and not when it was composed. And he thinks it is characterized by the use of classical instruments such as strings and winds ( ? ), but also a combination with a choir. He thinks it is mainly instrumental composition, the melodies are catchy ( ? ) and partly dynamic and rich in contrast ( ? ? ! ! ). Overall, his explanation is perhaps closer to the question "What is popular classical music?" than to the question "What is classical music?". 


Monique Schätti from Switzerland disqualifies herself with exciting, unusual words, for example, there are "minor masters" and we learn that greats have also created "third-rate" works. But she then disqualifies herself definitively when she describes André Rieu, a Karlspreis winner (... a very serious German prize) because of his work, as "lowest level". Rieu and his kind of entertainment are loved by tens of thousands of people. 


The Bayerischer Rundfunk BR (Bavarian Broadcast BR) is among the top 10 hits on Google, but provides no explanation at all for the question "What is classical music".  ✓


Rank 9 – today – is Indiepedia. Once again, they think that everything that is not folk music (1) or jazz (2) or "experimental" (3) or "avant-garde" (4) is classical music and then throw in F-music in addition to E-music and U-music. Great, that doesn't explain what classical music is, but makes it even more complicated (... for English-speaking folks: E-music is "ernst", which is "serious" music, U-Music is "unterhaltend", which is entertaining music, and the rare F-Music is "funktional", which is functional ... I have never heard about that before ...).  ✓


Finally, in 10th place - also today (... when I wrote these lines) - is the Goethe-Institut, first lingering on the confusion between classical as an epoch and classic as another word for "classical music", and then saying that classic is the "music of the concert hall" in general, when this term is not understood to mean the music of this epoch classic. Then they throw in the inappropriate term "classic", as if Bach's St. Matthew Passion is a "classic". You can forget everything else, but that is certainly how the Institute's staff judge my definition of "What is classical music?". The headline, however, is perfect, though, because it really does make it clear: It's about classical music as an epoch, as an era, as a period of time. But then I would have omitted the attempts to explain the question "What is classical music?" in "our sense" altogether.  ✓

Many adults know two composers, the third less so, and the one on the right is probably known by only one in 100 classical music fans.


What Is Classical Music and what Is Popular Classic? 


You can't define what classical music is. Period. Done. Basta. You can't practically read about what characterizes classical music and how to recognize it. And to clearly define it in two, four, or 10 sentences ... what it is ... is practically impossible. What is popular classical music? Well, if we are so nearly certain - from my reading - to recognize classical music, then "popular" simply means " favorite." Favorite classical music is popular classical music. But because "favorite classical music" doesn't really sound good as a musical genre, it is simply called "popular classical music". And from a certain life experience (... so maybe when you are a bit older than today) you know what is meant. Nowhere on the Internet do you read that classical music and popular classical music appeal to two different kinds of people.

The composer on the far right is certainly the best known. Then follows the gentleman with the wig on the far left. The one with the top hat is also known by all classical music fans, but the one with the medals on his chest is known by very few classical music fans.

"What is classical music" then? We approach the definition more quickly on this page of my website "Johann Sebastian Bach for Children" than via the website I open with the page "What is classical music" (... the lead, for example on a newspaper page, is the most important article of the day and there it is the bold print, the so-called teaser, that outlines the content in a few words). So if you want to inform yourself in detail, read on there, because the area of "popular classical music" occupies a much larger space. There you will also find my collection of 250 popular classical masterpieces in the "Classical Music Top 100". Young classical music is classical music that has only been composed in the last 20 to 50 years, for example for films and musicals. Composers include Morricone, Last, Enya, Vangelis, Webber and Williams. ✓

That's them, or at least a large part of them: the most famous classical composers. Of course, Mozart is missing. But also some others.



Sit in front of your television and click through the channels. Around dinnertime. Through and through. With music, you stay very briefly. With practically any music, you know: This is not classic, so it's not classical music.  It works much, much better on the radio, preferably in the car, because success is guaranteed there. While it is extremely rare to "get past" classical music on television, you can do so in a few minutes on the radio. But not on the hour: There's usually only news (... at least in Germany). 10:15 a.m. is good, 2:15 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and every 15 minutes after the hour in between.


So? You're sure to find a radio station that plays classical music within 10 minutes. It's easy to recognize. It's the kind of music you associate – mentally – with people over 60. Not groovy, sometimes seemingly boring, but often hectic: too much "fiddling", too much "squealing of women", too quiet piano passages ... for example. So ... my description in these two lines is only meant to represent what "one" (you, perhaps?) imagines about it. I'm not saying it's classical. No, so back to the attempt. So you have recognized classical music. What kind of classical music is it? It's 99 per cent not popular classical. We remember, popular is favorite. But on the radio you don't hear this one per cent popular classical music and certainly not young popular classical music.

Ludwig van Beethoven counted out exactly 60 coffee beans for each of his cups of coffee. Does that make him a bean counter?



And why is that? Why don't classic radio stations play popular classical music, let alone young popular classical music? Because there are only about 300 pieces of popular classical music.  What's more, the pieces are becoming less and less popular, but that doesn't mean they are becoming less good in quality. No, they are just no longer as popular as the 300 in my list. Radio stations like "Klassikradio" or Bayern Klassik (... Bavarian Classic), however, "serve" mainly very conservative classical music fans. They would immediately switch to another station if it only played popular classical music. So 99 % of what you hear there you won't like. And you will only "endure" it for 10 minutes – at most – and then switch on. At least that's how it was for me for decades. Although, I tried it again and again.


And now the confusion happens: You know you listen to classical music and you notice: You don't like it. You come to the conclusion: Classical music = not my thing. With my approach, however, you immediately find your way to classical music, especially to popular classical music. And also to young popular classical music and then, with pleasure ... yes, finally to classical music, as it is defined by so many enthusiastic classical music fans. Or rather, it is not, because even they cannot describe what they like about this kind of music.

Max Reger actually wrote this several times when he was asked for an autograph. It is certainly the only handwritten quotation on Bach.



What Then Is "Classical Music"?


„Was ist klassische Musik?“ Es definiert sich zunächst „seltsamerweise“ damit, was es nicht ist: Klassik ist keine Volksmusik, kein Jazz, kein Rap, keine Schlager, kein Pop, keine „Neue Deutsche Welle“, welche auch immer. Klassische Musik ist viel komponiert für den Gottesdienst, für Filme, Opern, es gibt Walzer, fürs Ballett, für Operetten, für Fürsten (früher) und zu bestimmten Anlässen. Schließlich komponierten Könner auch ganz eigenständige Themen für keinen solchen Event, was bei der Definition auch nicht wirklich hilft. Klassische Musik wird oft mit sehr, sehr vielen Instrumenten gespielt, nicht wie Musik von den Back Street Boys oder Spice Girls (… früher) oder „No Angels“ (… auch früher). Klassische Musik ist solche Musik, bei der man das Gefühl hat, sie könnte einem noch in 10, 20 oder 50 Jahren gefallen. Heute haut PSY „Oppan Gangnam Style“ ‘raus, die Welt flippt aus, jeder hört den Hit bis zum Abwinken. Und das war’s dann. Dasselbe passiert mit den Hits von Bieber, Helene Fischer und DJ Bobo. Nicht, dass ich sie nicht gut fände. Anders könnte es schon sein mit machen Hits von Abba, den Beatles, von Queen und vielleicht ja auch den Rolling Stones. Und ich meine, wie oft man sie wohl noch in 100 Jahren hört. Johann Sebastians Werke sind zum Teil rund 300 Jahre alt und es gibt viele Menschen, die sich für viele Lieder von Bach begeistern, nicht nur für die populären.  


Classical music is also associated with rather conservative, perhaps even festive clothing of the performers. Much more ties are worn, the female artists have noble clothes on. You generally notice a little bit about classical music that they don't seem to be made up out of thin air. The audience is quieter and more conservative. One associates St. John's Passion with conservative enthusiasts, "Wacken" more with head-banging listeners. With Caroline Reiber there is more swaying and clapping, with "Air" the audience is more quiet. And again: You can argue so contrary that all 10 authors who occupy page 1 on Google today would "put me down".  


"What is classical music?". Without providing a spot-on answer, however, you know immediately after my reading that it's best not to even try. As a student, it is best to remember once again that things "get hairy" when the question does not refer to classical music as a time period, epoch or era, i.e. when the question is: "Who are the composers of the classical period? Because in this case the answer can only be: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven. 

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