Is classical music only for old people?

5 September 2017, 15:18

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Aliette de Laleu is a 25-year-old journalist at France Musique – and she’s got some things to say about who should be listening to classical music.

Every week during her show on France Musique, Aliette leads a discussion on an aspect of classical music. This week, she asks the question: is classical music just for old people? 

Classical concert audiences

Aliette wants to debunk the myth that young people don’t go to classical concerts because, she says, it’s simply not true. Recent studies have shown “nearly half of classical concert audiences are under 50,” she says – encouraging news for younger classical fans, who might sometimes feel they're in the minority.

But this isn’t the only problem: the issue is that we look to concert audiences as a way of measuring which age groups listen to classical music.

“Concert audiences are not representative of everybody who listens to classical music,” Aliette argues. “People listen everywhere: at home, at work and on-the-go.”

Classical music is for everyone

“It’s impossible that only one age group can appreciate this style of music – impossible,” she says. “Classical music is the only genre to have developed over thousands of years. It is full of rebellious artists who were ahead of their time, and it’s the most modern musical genre.”

Listening to classical is also beneficial to young people. “Exposing children up to five years old to classical music helps them develop new learning abilities and to expand their vocabulary,” she explains.

What's more, as young teenagers begin to establish their own identity, classical music can perfectly respond to adolescent emotions by exuding calm, power and even sadness.

So how does she suggest classical music can be made more accessible to young people? Aliette suggests we re-brand the word itself, and discredit the idea that the genre is ‘classical’ and therefore ‘old’.

She finished her programme by playing a recording of Ravel’s Miroirs, played by the brilliant pianist Bertrand Chamayou... who's only 36.

For more clips from France Musique, click here.