Worbey & Farrell: Classical music is for everybody

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The elitist reputation of classical music belies the truth behind its often reprobate composers which shows it’s a genre everyone can enjoy, say Worbey & Farrell

The thing about classical music is that it is well liked. Few people won’t be able to hum a few bars of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or Dvorjak’s New World Symphony whether they heard it on Classic FM or advertising a loaf of bread.

However, classical music audiences can be rather scary – generally older and appear affluent. We both studied at the Royal College of Music under some of the world’s leading musical legends so if we are intimidated by the audience what chance might the rest of you have?

Perhaps this is because of the way in which it has been presented over the last few decades. Up until the late 1960s, classical music was much more popular, not elitist as it has become. Names such as Previn, Bernstein and Menuhin were “A” list celebrities. Previn even appeared on Morecambe & Wise and you didn’t get more populist than that.

Nowadays classical composers are put on a pedestal. Considering that many of their antics would make Russell Brand look like the Archbishop of Canterbury, they must be having a laugh in the afterlife.

Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique changed orchestration forever. It’s inspiration? Alcohol and opium. Tchaikovsky was inspired to compose his Violin Concerto after an affair with his nephew. Schubert died at a young age with syphilis which he acquired at one of his many orgies. What a shame we seldom find this information in program notes!

Concerts could do with a revamp. The artist enters as if they’ve come direct from a funeral. They bow then play. The audience applauds rapturously and after several curtain calls they leave. They should appear with a smile, make friends with the audience and chat about the music. That’s what we do and that’s how the BBC Proms are presented.

One of our best memories is a young boy laughing so much that his father had to cover his mouth. We then received an e-mail thanking us for introducing him to good music in such a light-hearted way. So let’s enjoy the world’s greatest music whilst remembering it was created by those wonderful reprobates.

Worbey & Farrell will be at the Assembly Rooms from August 1-15.