I got one comment that disagreed:In order to believe that crossover really brings people into classical music you have to presume a theory of aesthetic taste that says that the same people who like unchallenging, formulaic and maudlin music will equally like demanding and emotionally profound music. You know anyone like that? Me neither.
I know plenty of people like that, and it would be easy for you to see the same, too. For years I have used Last.fm to keep a record of the music I listen to. Among classical fans whose listening is documented there, it’s extremely common to see a Bruckner symphony or a Beethoven concerto followed by, say, a Kylie Minogue, Mylene Farmer, or Lady Gaga track. Perhaps these listeners consider both of the same ultimate worth, perhaps the lighter bit of music is just a palate cleanser after the heavy stuff. Rarely do I see people who listen exclusively to “demanding and emotionally profound music”.I responded with a "thanks" because I really do welcome disagreement as it usually leads to two things: either I change my mind about something based on additional evidence, or I deepen my understanding of something based on further discussion. I would like to take a page from my old philosophy professor and re-word the comment. I think that the theory implied here is that in the case of people who listen to both popular music and classical music, they do so either because they consider them both of equal aesthetic value or that they consider the lighter music as a kind of palate cleanser--the sorbet in between the heavier courses at the musical banquet.
Now, as a matter of fact, I do happen to listen to popular music (defined as everything that is neither classical nor world music), though I don't do so on a regular basis. I tend to listen to two kinds of popular music: either music that came out when I was in my late teens and early twenties or music I discovered later on. But in these two categories, I have narrowed it down to music that seems to have stood the test of time. I listen to the Beatles, but not Herman's Hermits, Bob Dylan, but not Joni Mitchell, Talking Heads, but not Madonna. So I would probably offer the argument that, even in pop music, it is possible to distinguish the lighter from the more profound. But at the end of the day I am going to say that while Bob Dylan is truly profound in his own way, the profundity comes more from the lyrics than the music. J. S. Bach is in no danger of being overshadowed by the harmonic richness of Bob Dylan. So I suppose that I might lean towards the idea the lighter music can act as a palate cleanser between heavier items. But I never listen that way! Do artists compose programs that way? Not to my knowledge, but I suppose it's possible. The question is, are there significant numbers of people who listen that way? Yes, that is very possible, but I might like to argue that they are passive, not active, listeners. As a passive listener, you go with the flow. But an active listener is more demanding and, at least as I see it, wants to delve more deeply, not take a musical break.
Am I all wet here? How do you listen?
Let's have some music to accompany your deliberations. This is Grigory Sokolov playing the Allegretto from Beethoven's "Tempest" Sonata at a concert in Cyprus in 2006: