Lectures for a New Year: How to Enjoy Classical Music


Benjamin Zander is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and a hell of a speaker. He's funny, engaging, and adorably English -- exactly the sort of speaker who commands and rewards attention. In this twenty-minute talk, he barrels headlong into a brief explanation of classical music, how it works, and how we -- the great non-classical-music-listening masses -- might actually enjoy it, even if we're weeping in the process. This lecture made me laugh and cry in equal measures -- bravo, sir.

Topics: "one-buttock playing"; "everybody has a fantastic ear"; the characteristics of a leader; "the reason you feel sleepy in classical music is not because of you, it's because of us!"; how Chopin mimics Hamlet; and the specific tip (right around 12:30) on how to listen to classical music.

For: anyone who likes classical music (3% of the general population) or dislikes classical music (97%). Mostly the latter.

Viewing note: the YouTube version is a little fuzzy; a somewhat higher-quality video is available directly from TED; click the Download button and follow the instructions.

Further Reading

Zander co-authored the book The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life. I haven't read it -- anyone in the audience care to comment on it? There's also a bunch of material conducted by Zander out there at your favorite music store, and these interviews might interest you.


A full transcript (and subtitles in dozens of languages) is available from the TED page.

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