The Uses of Classical Music in the Public Square

It turns out that classical music in the public square has a function of value.  Adolescents tend to disperse from where it is played, so even such as McDonalds are now discovering the delights of the Western classical music tradition.  If McDonalds and other businesses have discovered the usefulness of the Great Tradition, it ought to be easy to get corporate support for our orchestras today to continue it.

I don’t think it would have worked with me at that age, which yes was in the mid 60s, I would not have been driven away by classical music.  If they wanted to drive me away, the best things to choose would have been jazz or country music.  What was actually popular for the purpose at the time, however, was ‘beautiful music;’ lush, exclusively instrumental, arrangements of the Great American Songbook done by people named Mantovani and the like.  This was often quite effective.  I myself liked that kind of music less than rock or classical, but more than jazz or country.  Because my father was especially fond of ‘beautiful music,’ I grew up knowing all the tunes of the great American songs of the pre-rock era, and none of the words!

About 1964, a group called the Hollyridge Strings began to set the works of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and others into a similar format, and we were on our way to the ‘elevator music’ of today.  Interestingly enough, Jan and Dean, a duo in the general school of the Beach Boys, actually produced their own ‘elevator music’ version of their own songs!  Later on in the 80s, the ‘New Age’ tunes of George Winston, Kintaro, etc., became the heir to this tradition.

Related: “Classical Music Still Effective at Dispersing Loitering Teens” at


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