Leading Composer Rages at the New Labour 'Philistines'

Article excerpt

TONY Blair is encouraging an 'atmosphere of philistinism', according to one of our top composers.

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the Master of the Queen's Music, criticised the Government for adopting an attitude that 'working with serious classical music is elitist'.

He said the Labour administration was 'an utterly philistine government, whose Prime Minister recently read a platitudinous speech about the health of the arts in Britain, when his own horizons are rock and pop'.

Classical music had 'proved comparatively resistant to commercial exploitation, unlike certain types of music we are pressed now to regard as its absolute equal'.

Pop music, according to Sir Peter, had become 'ever more zombie-like, and the bands ruthlessly exploited'.

He added: 'The exploited victims do not feel themselves the exploited subjects of designs upon their minds and pockets - insulating the victims from all reality, and particularly from political reality.

'Of course, keeping people in a state of ignorance is good for the government in power - it precludes the possibility of articulate criticism, induces political apathy, and its by-product is a frustration-which bursts forth into seemingly mindless, unmotivated violence.

'Education, or its perverse inversion, becomes a tool with which to keep the underclasses in their place, incidentally ensuring bursting prisons.' Sir Peter holds the musical equivalent of the poet laureateship. His criticisms of the Government's-attitude towards music education came in a speech to the Incorporated Society of Musicians. …