Classical music is commonly regarded as something for the educated elite, or, depending on who you talk to, purist snobs. Either way, it is perceived as one of the last areas of music in which artistic sensitivity and technical skill are truly celebrated. But if that’s the case, where are all the old-timers? Where are the grizzled professionals whose artistry has taken decades to perfect?
The few veterans on the circuit today, seem like ever-scant exceptions to the emerging rule that sex is what sells classical music. Sure, you might have heard of rusty old crones like violinist Itzakh Perlman (widely known to the public for his performances of the Schindler’s List theme), and undoubtedly his virtuosity remains undiminished. Going to hear him play, though, is a bit like cheering on a roly-poly Diego Maradona re-enacting his ‘Hand of God’: he’s respected and loved, but he’s old news, and certainly not edgy.
Edgy in the world of virtuosi violinists today comes in the form of the stunning Akiko Suwanai, or girl-next-door Hilary Hahn, who travels between what she calls her ‘gigs’ in a minivan with her boyfriend. It’s a shame to pin-point the success of these immensely talented musicians to their looks, but the question raises itself naturally as the stage-strutting classical musicians grow ever younger and ever more attractive.