Popular music and ageing

Authored by: Ros Jennings

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Gerontology

Print publication date:  June  2015
Online publication date:  June  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415631143
eBook ISBN: 9780203097090
Adobe ISBN: 9781136221033


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Music is pancultural, diverse and expressed creatively through many forms and genres across the globe (Davies, 2012). Sociological approaches to music and society have been helpful in highlighting relationships between power, status and cultural tastes and practices in relation to music, especially with regard to social stratification and the opposition of mass and elite cultures (Van Eijck, 2001, Chan and Goldthorpe, 2007). Boundaries between mass and elite musical cultures are becoming more porous than previously suggested. For example, the international success of Dutch violinist and orchestra leader, André Rieu’s almost ‘rock star’ approach to classical music (particularly Mozart, Strauss, opera and operetta) suggests a shift in classical performative strategies to reflect not just the informalization of societies since 1950 (Abbing, 2005) but also the pervasive influence of rock and roll culture. By creating concert spaces where film music and popular European genres such as German schlager and Dutch levenslied sit side by side with works by Strauss, Puccini and even Michael Jackson (2009 Vrijthof Concert, Maastricht, Netherlands), Rieu manufactures a concert space where a new type of ‘greying’ older audience, one that loves classical music but is also influenced by post-1950s popular music, can dance and sing, and where the orchestra members are dressed colorfully and actively convey fun and enjoyment in their musical performance, thereby challenging the traditional etiquette of the classical orchestra.

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