Over the Bank Holiday Weekend, Classic FM presented their annual ‘Hall of Fame’. This is described as the largest poll of the world’s favourite classical music as voted for by listeners through a public vote. The thing is, it’s all very predictable and as such really rather dull.
This year, once again Vaughan Williams topped the chart with his Ascending Larks. I’m not saying it’s a bad piece, but it is so typical of the Great British Public to choose the obvious option. In fact the pieces that make up the top ten have changed very little since the chart began. And only five different pieces have ever held the number one position. This aside, there is nevertheless a lot of good music in the top 10. Elgar’s Nimrod, Beethoven’s ninth, Allegri’s Miserere & Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto all make an appearance. But again these are all obvious choices from a listenership with little or no imagination. In fact for my vote, the entire chart should be turned on its head as there is some far more interesting music at the other end!
Charles Gounod was in at 300 with Mors et Vita – Classic FM were quick to point out this included Judex. Then at 299 there was Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings which was followed by Shostakovich’s Symphony Number 7. One of the trends in this year’s chart was the inclusion of far more living composers. John Williams, for example, had more pieces in this year’s top 300 than ever before – beating the likes of Bach, Elgar and Brahms. Of course, this is all terribly interesting and no doubt many comparisons and insights could be found, or at least twisted to fit a hypothesis. However, apart from telling us the musical preferences of around 100,000 people, I’m not entirely sure what value this chart has for the rest of us.
And this, ultimately, is the problem with voting. For example, we learnt today that the country will be going to the polls on 8 June for yet another vote on which monkey we want to live in 10 Downing Street. The trouble is there are other things to be voted for at the beginning of May and the vote last Summer didnt exactly go to plan either. The main issue is that most of the electorate have no idea what they are voting for. And even if they do work out for whom they are voting, they are given no clear indication of what that person may then do. In fact the only certainty is uncertainty.
So, whilst the news channels are obsessed with politics and yet more endless debates between politicians, perhaps the best thing to do is in fact listen to Classic FM. It may not suit everyone’s taste but it does at least offer a degree of certainty in a world which is ever changing, often not for the best.
Jules Addison is a Choir Leader and Sound Engineer who has no affiliation with Classic FM but does spend a lot of time driving around listening to the radio