Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Dr. Bob Prescribes Classics for Pleasure?

Classics for Pleasure and Music for Pleasure 

Classics for Pleasure

The British record label Classics for Pleasure was introduced in 1970 as a budget, “classical music” label.  The majority of its releases are reissues from the EMI/His Master’s Voice (HMV) catalog.  Classics for Pleasure is a subsidiary of the London-based Music for Pleasure Limited, a holding company for a number of record labels and music publishing companies.  The whole shebang is a subsidiary of Parlophone Records (founded in 1896 and today headquartered in London), which is, in turn, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group, which is a subsidiary of the multinational natural resources, chemical, media, telecommunication, venture capital, and real estate giant Access Industries.


Let’s get back to Classics for Pleasure and its parent company, Music for Pleasure.  

Some good people might find these names an irksome, implying as they do a sort of vanilla, easy-listening musical content (commute-time, wallpaper music: Vivaldi mandolin concerti and Pachelbel’s Canon-like fare, the sonic equivalents of Velveeta on Wonder Bread with a dash of mayo).  At the same time, the names/phrases Classics for Pleasure and Music for Pleasure implies that “classics” and “music” not so described are, somehow, unpleasurable.

There is a school of thought that tells us that when it comes to good music, it’s a matter of no aesthetic pain, no gain; that we need to take our dissonance like men (and women!); that multiple listenings should be required to appreciate true musical art; and that musical prettiness is but skin deep (although we’d observe that ugliness cuts to the bone).

I, for one, did not attend that school.  

There is a time and a place for almost everything, and that includes most any kind of music.  

(A dangerously true story.  Many years ago, I was driving to the San Francisco Conservatory to teach.  My first class that day was on Igor Stravinsky’s groundbreaking masterwork, The Rite of Spring, so I was listening to it in the car during my commute.  About halfway through the piece I realized I was driving like a freaking maniac, a direct reflection of the nature of the music I was listening to.  I removed The Rite from the CD player.  A lesson learned: the morning rush hour over the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge is neither the time nor the place to be listening to The Rite of Spring!)

Again, my deep-held belief: there is a time and a place for most every kind of music.

And so, just as we gloried in the jagged angularity and expressive magnificence of Carl Ruggles’ Sun-Treader in last week’s Dr. Bob Prescribes, today we will wallow in the sheer beauty of this week’s recommendations, which do indeed exemplify the phrases “Classics for Pleasure”and “Music for Pleasure”!…

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