The Assault on Classical Music

21 maart 2022 | Max Denken

Scour the Internet, and in no time you’ll find “I Hate Classical Music; A Conversation on Race, Identity, and Transformative Arts Practice.”(1) The conversation is between two “biracial American black” brothers—one an accomplished classical clarinetist and the other senior officer at the super-woke Grantmaker in the Arts foundation dispensing whitey’s money(2) to “Africa, Latinx, Arab, Asian, Native American or people of color communities, artists, organizations.”

You will find far-Left black activist and novelist, Candace Allen—a graduate of whitey’s Harvard—pegging the problem of whitey’s classical music’s whiteness in “Class, race and classical music” at The Guardian.(3) You will find the U.S. (mostly white) taxpayers’-supported National Public Radio (NPR) asking, “Why Is American Classical Music So White?”(4)


One, Nebal Maysaud, “a queer Lebanese composer based in the Washington D.C.” asserted in 2019: “It’s Time to Let Classical Music Die.” Maysaud declared his victimhood as a “musician of color” who along with his POC (“people of color”) mates is “exoticised” and “tokenised” and thrown a few scraps by whitey.


“Western classical music is not about culture. It’s about whiteness,” diagnosed postcolonial Nebal before proceeding to such unintentionally comedic statements as “European traditions which serve the specious belief that whiteness has a culture,” and “Western classical music depends on people of color to uphold its facade as a modern, progressive institution.”(5)


Since our age is marked by a historically unique phenomenon of the ruling caste of the peoples of Western Civilization engaged, as one, in virtual coprophilia, it’s no wonder that white “experts” were all too happy to second the complaints of their dear “people of color.” Oxford University professors, in cold sweat after BLM rampages, are changing the curriculum to address “white hegemony" and to redress "complicity in white supremacy." Among others, they are rethinking the study of musical notation because it is a "colonialist representational system" and proposing that musical skills such as playing the keyboard or orchestra conducting should not be compulsory because they are related to “white European music" that causes "students of color” great distress."(6)


 “The Sound you are hearing is classical music’s long overdue reckoning with racism,” huffed the Washington Post’s music critic Michael Andor Brodeur in an article on July 15, 2020. Brodeur is a dilettante reputedly selected for his job at that gone-mad “progressive” newspaper because he is a “gay” DJ of “gay” technopop. But when Alex Ross writes a 4,000-word article ringing bells for “Black Scholars Confront White Supremacy in Classical Music”(7) starting from the statement, “The field must acknowledge a history of systemic racism,” that’s another matter. Ross, the New Yorker’s music critic, is a walking encyclopedia of classical music, probably one of its most knowledgeable connoisseurs in the world. Homosexual too, like Brodeur, and maybe that has something to do with their insertion of poisoned piffle into the high art they purport to serve.


Ross cites approvingly an article by Philip Ewell, professor of music theory at Hunter College, which starts with the sentence “Music theory is white.”(8) Oy vey! White!


Ewell goes on to allege a “deep-seated ideology of white supremacy” in music theory and follows up with Critical Theory gobbledygook like “not to mention marginalized groups based on gender, LGBTQIA+, ethnic, religious, disablist, cultural, or other identities. The intersectionality [snip]—how race and gender overlap in legal writings—of all marginalized groups is of the utmost importance.”


It’s not worth our time digging further into the fertile mind of Professor Ewell, but to establish a context I’ll mention another one of his products: “Beethoven Was an Above Average Composer—Let’s Leave It at That.” See, we anointed mediocre Ludwig whatshisname as a genius because he has been “propped up by the white-male frame, both consciously and subconsciously.”(9)


Alex Ross, who is White, devotes a great deal of his article to Ewell’s unintentionally amusing arguments without inferring that maybe, because Ewell is an Afro-American, there may be something else there other than a learned disquisition on music theory, Beethoven, etc. One Ewell argument that Ross regurgitates at length is that Heinrich Schenker, a major music theorist of Austrian-Jewish origin, held racist views, particularly with regard to Blacks. “Ewell argued that Schenker’s system is, in fact, founded on national and racial hierarchies,” he writes. “Reverence for the kind of supreme talent who can assemble monumental musical structures shades into biological definitions of genius, and the biology of genius spills over into the biology of race.”


There are two propositions conflated here. First, that Shenker was a racist therefore his music theory is tainted and should be abolished. Second, that reverence for the monumental musical structures that European composers alone have created is unacceptable “white supremacy.” I’ll argue that the first, probably true, doesn’t matter and the second is a hypocritical stupidity.


Forget Shenker; let’s discuss the most personally repugnant, racist and antisemitic among the great composers, Richard Wagner. To understand the link between such a man and his music one needs to find a more illuminated teacher than broken vessels like Ross or Ewell are. Such was Mark Owen Lee, priest and Professor of Classics at the University of Toronto.


In his book, Wagner; the Terrible Man and His Truthful Art Lee invokes the mythical Greek story of the great archer Philoctetes, possessor of Apollo’s magic bow that never misses its mark, a gift to him from the god Heracles. En route to the Trojan war, Philoctetes is bitten in the foot by a serpent. The wound will not heal; it’s festering and suppurating. His comrades, unable to bear the stench and his cries of pain abandon Philoctetes on the island of Lemnos and sail on to Troy.


For nine years the Greeks fight the army of Troy and cannot prevail. Then a prophecy foretells that Troy will not be taken until they bring Philoctetes with his magic into the combat. So the Greeks send a ship captained by Odysseus to bring the wounded archer back from Lemnos. They find him in a cave, writhing in pain and cursing them who once abandoned him. Philoctetes refuses to go but now Heracles appears and tells the hateful, suffering man that he is needed and his hatred is self-defeating; if he joins his fellow Greeks in Troy he will be cured of his wound and win immortal glory with his bow.


Lee extrapolates from this legend:

Great gifts are given by the gods only at the price of great suffering and vulnerability. . . . That brings us back to Wagner, for the manic little man with then outsize head, when he turned thirty-six, had to flee Germany with a price on his head for his participation in the Dresden uprising of 1849. . . . Wagner, by all accounts a monstrously flawed man, given to venting his spleen indiscriminately in all direction, was also greatly gifted and [snip] a tormented man, vulnerable and suffering. . . . However defective Wagner may have been as a man, however detestable his obsessive rantings, we need his unerring art. It is as necessary to us as was the bow of Philoctetes to his fellow Greeks.(10) 


Wagner’s repugnant character and life included such items as fleeing in the night from his creditors in Riga, seducing the wives of his closest friends, and writing some of the most florid Jew-hating prose of the 19th century. But given the latter, it’s significant that Bernard Levin, probably Britain’s most famous journalist of the 1980s, wrote this about Wagner:

No other composer goes down into such dark and forbidden chasms nor up to such blinding brightness. . . . Wagner is dangerous. He liberates passions high and low, he breaks open doors we try all our lives to shut, he tears bandages off ancient, unhealing wounds. Go to Wagner’s Ring and at the end of the week you have had the equivalent of a year in the psychiatrist’s chair.(11)


Michael Henderson, one of Britain’s most famous journalists today, wrote this about Wagner: “That famous prelude [to Tristan and Isolde], on which music critics have poured millions of words, set me on a course that changed my life.”(12) Another Wagner prelude, that to Tannhäuser, set me on a course that changed my life; indeed, Wagner and a few other classical composers saved me in the course of a long and turbulent life from ever needing the services of a psychiatrist or any other “therapist.”


The Wagner paradox of a personally repulsive genius expressing sublime beauty and metaphysical meaning is extreme, but not unique. Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, Tolstoy, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Céline, Ezra Pound, Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, Orson Welles, Pablo Picasso, Yukio Mishima and many other supremely gifted creators all had either nasty personality traits or repugnant views of their fellow men, or both. Chopin, another composer who is a regular part and solace of many lives, was a histrionic narcissist, antisemite, and exploitive in his relationship with other people. What’s more important, that, or what Arthur Rubinstein—a Jew and arguably the greatest pianist of all time—said: “I am [not] a pianist, but a vampire. All my life I have lived off the blood of Chopin.” And Annik LaFarge, an amateur pianist and author of a book about Chopin wrote this about his Funeral March:

In just ten minutes or less Chopin has bookended the entire human experience in music, taking us from lullaby to lament. [snip] The paradox of the movement, the rampant joy that has been smuggled into the heart of a death march, arrived for me with a shock of recognition: [snip] Our experience of death should be animated, not haunted, by a force of beauty.(13)


Such a spiritual epiphany through classical music is my experience also. Put me in a church during a priest’s or pastor’s sermon, I’ll probably nod off. But put me in the same church, say for a Bach concert at the Baroque Basilica in Leżajsk or a performance of Mozart’s Requiem in D minor at the Frauenkirche in Dresden, and I fly to religious heights that only a vehicle conceived by a genius can carry me to. It’s not for nothing that Bach dedicated all his compositions Soli Deo Gloria—To the glory of God alone.


The organ at the Basilica of St. Mary in Leżajsk, Poland


Seen in this context, the whining of poisoned white minds about the “whiteness in classical music” is a stream of demented ordure, and the “canceling” of classical composers of yore because of their racism is a hypocritical exercise of a double bias of presentism and relativism, i.e. judging white people who lived a hundred, two, or three hundred years ago by the standards of today, and not judging “people of color” (POCs) who lived then—or even those who live now—by the same standard. As to the POCs’ criticism of the whiteness of classical music, that’s an understandable bias that white people of sound mind ought to ignore, or else complain in return about the blackness of basketball, short-distance running, rap, hip-hop, and male jewelry.


Israel, a state founded in 1948 with a philharmonic orchestra founded 12 years earlier by European Jewish immigrants experiences a similar schism. “Elitist Sounds at Israel Philharmonic Are Music to Nobody’s Ears,” opines one Revital Madar—she an Israeli “Mizrahi” i.e. of Arab country origin as distinct from the European “Ashkenazim” who founded that country and its culture. Darker skin, few vestiges of European culture, and lots of resentment.


“It’s a well-known fact that feminism will also ultimately free men from the same oppression they themselves have created,” so begins Ms. Madar’s diatribe against European classical music culture in Israel. “Similarly, the effort by Mizrahim (Jews of Middle Eastern descent) to free Mizrahi men and women from Ashkenazi-Zionist oppression will also simultaneously free Ashkenazim themselves from the same oppression.”(14) All an evident proof that by not learning to appreciate Mozart she has deprived herself of the “Mozart effect” that raises IQ in people and milk production in cows.


By the way, as of 2007 Qatar has a philharmonic orchestra performing both Western classical and Arabic music. It’s a cultural thing; to my ears the Western kind speaks volumes while the Arabic kind doesn’t but it’s commendable that Qatar’s royal Al-Thani family thought it proper to bring both kinds of music to its people via complex Western musical structures.


The problem is not in “people of color” (POC) voicing their racial and cultural animus toward Western classical music. The problem is that in the multiracial, multicultural West white people have only one answer: retreat. In everything, not just classical music.


After all, how can classical music composed in the continent of the white people by white composers, taught to and admired by many generations of white people be other than white? As a victim of whitey’s classical music myself—as a wee lad of seven, my white piano teacher instructed me in the proper rhythm of Bach and Schubert by tapping my white skull with her sharpened pencil—I was captured by the treatment of classical music by David Goldman.


Goldman’s is a much sharper brain than that of the “queer composer” Nebal Maysaud whom the United States has seen fit to import all the way from Lebanon. In a 2017 article in Asia Times,(15) Goldman analyzed the superlative performance of Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata by Yuja Wang—as he put it, “a 30-year-old Chinese woman [who] is teaching Beethoven to the West.”


The Hammerklavier is perhaps the most difficult work ever composed for the piano. As a classical music fanatic, even though I am critical of the West’s allowing China to conquer it gradually, Ms. Wang’s performance at Carnegie Hall was a work of such pianistic genius that I yield to Goldman’s learned opinion: “Compared to that, leapfrogging the West in mathematics and physics would be minor accomplishments. Yuja Wang has penetrated to the inner sanctum of the Western soul.”


The musicologist-financier-geopolitics observer-writer that Goldman (aka “Spengler”) is, he enlarged from that to “China well might overwhelm the West, not by brute force and mass production and discipline, but spiritually and intellectually.”


For 50 years, China has been studying, copying, and improving the best that Western Civilization can offer: science, mathematics, computers, medicine, classical music, painting. For the same 50 years the West—especially America—has not been studying and adopting the best and most difficult of Chinese culture but devouring Chinese chop suey, chop-socky films, and cheap Chinese junk products.


In an essay in 2008, while living in the Far East I expressed the difference in these words:

China has 30 million students of classical piano and 10 million classical violinists. America has 40 million of ¿Tiene Preguntas? China has 50,000 students of geology who will be launched all over the world to look for new sources of raw materials. America has 500 students of geology, most of them foreigners, but 50,000 students in law schools.(16)


The West’s education-for-the-dumb, entropic racial minorities, and centrifugal immigrants from 100+ countries of the Third World are increasingly rendering classical music irrelevant—like mathematics in the eyes of the woke intelligentsia, a shameful legacy of “whiteness.” One ought to read in it both the prospects of Western civilization’s survival and, as Goldman does, portents of China’s chances of overwhelming the West. Demography is destiny; there is no beating Reality’s rule with moonshine like “Diversity is our Strength.”


Incidentally, the high-IQ groups of Chinese and Japanese immigrants do not advocate for abolishing whitey’s music. To the contrary, just see who fills the chairs in America’s conservatory classrooms and symphonic orchestras’ stages. Or visit Chopin’s birthplace in Żelazowa Wola in Poland and see how many Japanese have traveled 9,000 km to pay homage to the master who has touched their soul across the barriers of centuries, cultures, and races.


As I write this, a title crawls at the bottom of my TV: “Trans swimmer Lia Thomas crowned NCAA Champion.” Lia Thomas is a they/them 185 cm-tall man quite visibly endowed with male genitalia who is now collegiate women’s championette of America. That is the revolution eating its own; the Bolsheviks crushing the Mensheviks, the transgenderists crushing the feminists. Our politicians either cheer on this or, like the useless “conservative” parties’ leaders, scurry for the exists lest they be accused of saying something “controversial.”


Music is more important than swimming; we have to stand athwart the road to madness. Classical music remains the apex achievement of Western civilization that no other, including such advanced ones as China’s or Japan’s, can equal, though they can adopt and emulate. Europe’s mental illness of the Frankfurt’s School’s Cultural Marxism originally infected America, but now American mutations like Black Lives Matter, male/female swimmers, and inquisition trials of “white man’s music” are infecting Europe.


June 22, 2020 cover of Front National’s newspaper Présent, defending our music


There is no need to retreat before accusations of “whiteness.” There is no need to tolerate the mental disease that produces the nostra culpa crowd among the West’s brainwashed intellectuals and opportunist politicians. It’s time to assert such simple truths like that “diversity” is not a strength, and that classical music is a gift from the white peoples’ civilization that anyone is welcome to, provided she has the proper reverence. Plus the talent, and the years invested in being poked in the head by a sharpened pencil. The Chinese understand that and beat the retreating Whites in their own game, in music too.



(1) Justin Laing and Alex Laing, “I Hate Classical Music; A Conversation on Race, Identity, and Transformative Arts Practice,” Grantmakers in the Arts,

(2) “GIA Funding Partners,” Grantmakers in the Arts, Should that link “disappear” one day, in June 2020 the list of multi-year donors included the Barr Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Jerome Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.

(3) Candace Allen, Class, race and classical music, The Guardian, April 4, 2014,

(4) “Why Is American Classical Music So White?” NPR, June 5, 2020,

(5) Nebal Maysaud, “It’s Time to Let Classical Music Die,”, June 24, 2019,

(6) Craig Simpson, “Musical notation branded 'colonialist' by Oxford professor hoping to 'decolonise' the curriculum,” Telegraph, March 27, 2021,

(7) Alex Ross, “Black Scholars Confront White Supremacy in Classical Music,” New Yorker, September 14, 2020,

(8) Philip A. Ewell, “Music Theory and the White Racial Frame,” Music Theory Online, June 2019,

(9) Philip Ewell, “Beethoven Was an Above Average Composer—Let’s Leave It at That,” Music Theory's White Racial Frame blog of Philip Ewell, April 24, 2020,

(10) M. Own Lee, Wagner; The Terrible Man and His Truthful Art, University of Toronto Press, 1999, pp. 11 -12.

(11) Ibid, p. 22.

(12) Michael Henderson, “Converted to the Master,” Spectator, July 18, 2009,

(13) Annik LaFarge, Chasing Chopin, Simon and Schuster, 2020, p. xvii.

(14) Revital Madar “Elitist Sounds at Israel Philharmonic Are Music to Nobody’s Ears,” Haaretz, December 16, 2014,

(15) David P. Goldman, “Two Transgressors: Milo Yiannopoulos and Yuja Wang,” Asia Times, February 15, 2017,

(16) Takuan Seiyo, “The Real Mark-to-Market,” Gates of Vienna, October 14, 2008,


You may also like