During the last few decades, most cultural critics have come to agree that the division between "high" and "low" art is an artificial one, that Beethoven's Ninth and "Blue Suede Shoes" are equally valuable as cultural texts. In Who Needs Classical Music?, Julian Johnson challenges these assumptions about the relativism of cultural judgments. The author maintains that music is more than just "a matter of taste": while some music provides entertainment, or serves as
background noise, other music claims to function as art. This book considers the value of classical music in contemporary society, arguing that it remains distinctive because it works in quite different ways to most of the other music that surrounds us.
This intellectually sophisticated yet accessible book offers a new and balanced defense of the specific values of classical music in contemporary culture. The paperback edition includes a new preface from the author, re-contextualizing the debate ten years out. Who Needs Classical Music? will stimulate readers to reflect on their own investment (or lack of it) in music and art of all kinds.
Julian Johnson is Professor of Music, Department of Music at Royal Holloway, University of Oxford. From 2001-2007. He was Reader in Music and a Fellow of St. Anne's College at the University of Oxford, and recipient of the Dent Medal (2005) awarded by the Royal Musical Association for "outstanding contributions to musicology."