Music, Marble and Vanity

Why are people more impressed by ‘me and my music’ in a concert hall than when friends play it in my local church for fun?

In Februari friends gave me a chance to have my music played at the Staatstheater in Kassel. What struck me there was: I entered as ‘a woman’ and I left being known as ‘the composer’.

After introducing and explaining a little about “Das Hirtenbüblein”, people recognized me during the break. I had changed status within the group, people were coming to me telling me they liked the piece. But more often, being a little shy, looking at me but not engaging in a conversation: I was the conversation. I had impressed them.

This theatre (not Kassel) would make you think that the music played is important, wouldn’t it? (Photo by Victor Freitas on

Being in this marbled, lighted surrounding it struck me: I got status because my music is in this building with this audience. It’s the ‘Theatre’: the concrete and social construction that gives me and my music this new ‘status’. I am extra grateful for this opportunity, because it also teaches me things I normally don’t think about:

  • I get distracted from writing music by all the bling bling, the publisher, the critic from the local newspaper, and the 200 person audience being impressed by ‘me walking around’. It took a while before the dust set and I was working again.
Photo by Jack Gittoes on
  • What if we stripped that building? Would they think the same of my music? I would still the same ‘me’ with the same music. But there would be no building or audience giving me status. I would still love my composition, but well, it would not build a career.
  • Now I know how it feels to be lifted up by a crowd, I understand better what the more masculine, male, composers were looking for. Mahler, Wagner, Beethoven: All these large orchestra’s, large long and loud pieces: they were designed to impress. To gain status. But maybe Debussy had more balls, writing more tender music?
Photo by Emmet on
  • When I think about how much I enjoy street-musicians: If this man played my music, would it sound worse? No, but there is no audience to enjoy it. It would not be loud, nor large, no audience, no status improvement. But: The music stays the same.
  • And me: will still be the same ‘me’ trying to write music. Where-ever, whom-ever plays it. Trying to compose music in the best way possible.

By Anneloes Wolters