Seeing as we are currently in what is considered - in the nominally "Christian" parts of the world at least - a festive season, I think it most appropriate to share with my readers this deliciously detailed tear-down of Classic FM, Britain's most popular classical radio channel.
I am not opposed in principle to efforts at broadening the audience for classical music, nor do I have any ideological objections to attempting to mix commerce with art - my views run, if anything, in the contrary direction - but there are good and bad ways of striving towards even the most positive ends, and reducing a musical tradition with so much sophistication, and so many centuries of tradition behind it, to only the most easily memorized excerpts of a select few "greatest hits" from the same limited selection of usual suspects*, actually does a tremendous disservice to the cause Classic FM is supposedly championing.
Classical music is not pop, and cannot be reduced to a few minutes of catchy tunes sandwiched in between adverts and smarmy banter. Unless audiences are taught to appreciate the importance of musical structure and development, they will never come to understand just why it is that the classical tradition should be worth holding in high regard, other than as just another means of signaling one's social status. To truly appreciate the intellectual and artistic ingenuity of the likes of even such well-known names as Bach and Beethoven, one needs to go beyond the familar strains of "Sheep May Safely Graze" and "Für Elise" to explore works like the Goldberg Variations and the Große Fuge, and that will never happen if one is constantly indulged in the notion that the essence of any musical work can be grasped in just a few minutes.
*Bach, Beethoven, Händel, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Wagner, with a side order of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" and Pachelbel's Canon.