The Well-Tempered Ear

Madison classical music notes: Can you hear who’s gay through a classical music performance?

January 30, 2010
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By Jacob Stockinger

Can you tell if a classical musician — pianists, in this case — is gay or lesbian form the way he or she plays?

What qualities would be different?

They are intriguing and controversial questions. And a time topic, given President Obama’s promise, made during Wednesday night’s State of the Union address, to issue an executive order banning “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military.

And it is one that the prize-winning and MacArthur “genius” grant recipient pianist Stephen Hough (below), himself a self-identified gay man, treats in his always interesting and often provocative blog.

Hough names names and is out front in his opinions.

Others beside me too were interested. That particular post drew some 150 responses — more than usual and quite a lot.

Read his blog posting — complete with video and audio examples from YouTube — through  the link below. Also be sure to read both the readers’ responses to him and then his responses to them.

It all makes for an enlightening and thought-provoking read.

And Hough will be in Madison Feb. 26-28 to perform Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

What do you think of the argument for or against identifying a performer’s sexual identity through a performance style?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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