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July 14, 2010

A couple of signs that classical music is gaining ground

Those of us devoted to classical music can use any positive trend we can find. It's rough out there, battling for attention in a world of pathetic Idol-ization, but every now and then it looks like Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and the rest of gang may be gaining some ground. These two things have me a bit of a boost:

Eminent music critic Alex Ross recently spotted a trend in late-night TV viewing -- the declining and aging audiences -- and drew a deliciously upbeat comparison with classical music. At the very least, Alex has given us a way to hold our heads just a teeny bit higher the next time we confront stereotypical attitudes about how the arts are doomed. 

And the other day, my partner Robert noticed a new ad for an Audi that he thought I might like (we're rather partial to Audis, I should say up front). It's a great little commercial, and not just because it sells a cool car. I've decided it sends a fabulous subliminal message about how classical music can transport you far above whatever din and destructiveness may surround you, that you can really go farther, and in better style, with classical.

Oh, all right, maybe it doesn't do any such thing, but I still like the fact that a good guy -- or car -- is associated with a classical tune, which I initially didn't recognize -- happily, a reader soon informed me that it's from Handel's glorious "Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne." Anyway, here's the ad: 


Posted by Tim Smith at 7:16 AM | | Comments (3)


The aria is "Eternal Source of Light Divine from Handel's "Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne." A magnificent piece! I don't know the particular recording though.

I knew I could count on being corrected! Thanks. It has obviously been much too long since I heard that great work. TIM

There's also an interesting "Making Of" video about this ad on YouTube.

Thanks. TIM

Thanks, Andrew, for the 'Making Of" link. Very interesting!

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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