Classical music for a mediatized world

We live in a time characterized by renegotiated relationships between high and popular culture, where previous hierarchies are played with, discussed and reinterpreted in different ways. At the same time, classical music, like other high or fine culture, is increasingly subject to the same requirements of profitability and efficiency as other parts of the (partially) publicly funded cultural activities. In a debate in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet in 2016, art music was described as marginalized and in crisis.

The aim of the project Classical music for a mediatized world: visual and audio-visual representations of Western art music in contemporary media and society is to create a deeper understanding of classical music as a cultural and mediatized contemporary phenomenon. What are the notions of classical music in today’s Western society? How is the understanding of classical music formed by the spreading of images, films and other visual and audio-visual representations in different media? The project has two objectives:

  • to identify, delimit and describe prominent notions of classical music
  • to show how these relate to broader perceptions of art and music, on identity and subjectivity, and on cultural and social status. The project is a collaboration between researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Stockholm University and the Swedish Music agency.

In his substudy, Sverker Hyltén-Cavallius at Svenskt visarkiv examines how classical music is formulated and discussed, visually portrayed and sometimes joked with, in various internet forums. The study focuses on discussions in Facebook groups devoted to art music, the sharing of internet memes and videos in social media with accompanying comments, as well as conversations about the topic in open discussion forums. Sverker Hyltén-Cavallius’ study runs from 2019 to 2021. The project is funded by the Swedish research council.