"Serious" and "Popular": Oppositions of Style and Value in History of Musical Culture
How can one distinguish or demarcate between serious and popular music? Should we be guided by a dismissive attitude, such as the Adornian school, or seek new ways to interpret popular music? If yes, what guidelines would be appropriate for studying this? How can the domains of 'popular' and 'serious' be visualized, as two separate pools, or as the same music strata divided only superficially and externally? Following the impetus, expressed in the words of renown pianist Aleksei Lyubimov who said that «nowadays everything comes closer and moves to each other,» the course is aimed at establishing the links and defining common places in between popular and serious music. The course, therefore, will cover different topics ranging from injections and borrowings from classical music, to the investigation of adjacent areas and fields with a common presence such as recent religious aspirations, or pursuits to reconstruct weltanschauung and gender identities. Rock and symphonic orchestra, Christianity and Buddhism, jazz and dodecaphony, the general aspiration to reach the maximal sublimity, or accessibility, will be discussed in reference to music created by professional composers and unprofessional (in academic sense) music makers. Thus, among the distinctive features of the course is not only the discovery of a unified methodology that embraces contrasting and uneven music and cultural traditions, but also its focus on underrepresented and scarcely known parts of music history, such as American opera, avant-garde, and musicals. The course relies heavily on Western theoretical approaches to academic and popular music, as well as on the teacher’s own professional experience in communicating with renown musicians in the discussed fields. The course is designed for everybody interested in music and culture.