The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Classical musicians take up the cause of Black Lives Matter | July 13, 2016

By Jacob Stockinger

Classical music can easily appear isolated from current events and social issues these days, more of a shelter or sanctuary or retreat than an engagement.

Pop, rock, country and rap music often seem much more timely and symptomatic or even concerned and supportive.

But classical music has often shown a social conscience.

One thinks of the composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein and his support of those protesting the Vietnam War and of black power advocates – efforts that often drew criticism and sarcasm from those who disagreed.

Something similar seems to be happening today with the Black Lives Matter movement and classical musicians in the wake of the Minnesota, Louisiana and Dallas, Texas shootings, death and murders.

Black Lives Matter Dallas

Here is a story from The New York Times that explores the connections:


  1. This ending part of Moore’s excellent essay should also be carefully read and the advice followed by all:

    “One of the challenges for me [remember, he is a black man and plays the cello professionally] has been to accept that certain unpleasant realities related to race will likely accompany me throughout my life. But wisdom imparted by good parents and smart mentors has led me to respond to that challenge by choosing to reject bitterness, prejudice, and self-pity. The reward for making that choice is that nothing will ever dilute my enjoyment of Bach’s C Major Suite.”

    Edward Kelsey Moore lives and writes in Chicago, where he also enjoys a career as a professional cellist.”


    Comment by fflambeau — July 13, 2016 @ 10:07 pm

  2. Good stuff.

    I also love this essay (excerpted from by the professional, black cellist, Edward Kellsey Moore:

    “The other story involving the [Bach] C Major Suite is just as pivotal, but it isn’t one that I often tell.

    Around the same time that I bought that futon, I was stopped by the police in my hometown, Indianapolis, one night. The reason for the traffic stop was never made clear to me. The officers directed me to pull over into an alleyway. And after handing over my license and registration, I was immediately accused of having stolen the cello in the back seat.

    My assertion that the cello belonged to me was greeted with laughter, and I was given the option of being placed under arrest or proving that the cello was mine by playing it for them. I chose the latter option and played the opening phrases of the C Major Suite for an audience of two policemen in an alley in Indianapolis.

    I wasn’t arrested. And the two policemen appeared to find the notion that I could actually play the cello nearly as amusing as they’d found my earlier claim that the instrument was mine. At the end of the encounter, I was given a good-natured slap on the back and told to “Have a good day,” as if the three of us had all shared a joke.”

    The entire essay by Moore is well worth reading. He writes as well as he plays.

    Comment by fflambeau — July 13, 2016 @ 10:02 pm

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