André Rieux SyndromeJune 23rd, 2010
We all know the dutch fiddler and his orchestra dressed à la mode of XVIIIth century, but would his name be associated to a psychiatric disorder? Not yet officially, but it won’t be long coming. I noticed that many musicians and artistic directors were subject to the same symptoms that I have been regrouping under the “Andre Rieux syndrome”.
But what is it? To understand, we must first review Rieux’ recipe :
Take a few classic tunes rather light and easy to memorize and some known pop songs. Rearrange the classical tunes to obtain a folk orchestration and mix everything. Rub in a paste of very fat marketing, season with a pinch of self-centeredness and megalomania. Finally, serve while pretending you have good intentions.
That’s the billionaire’s recipe. No jealousy, but a great admiration : lure of money and fame have become more important than professional conscience, and I wouldn’t be able to think this way. I would not sleep any more.
As you certainly noticed, the André Rieux syndrome has spread widely in recent years. Crossovers of all kinds, strange programming mixing film music and classical symphonies, and so on… All motivated by the laudable aim of attracting a new audience and democratizing classical music. Bullshit, it’s just THE André Rieux syndrome.
First symptoms: believing that classical music should be democratized by making it more “accessible”. Shortening a forty minutes symphony to a few poorly orchestrated themes is dreadful. A composer builds a structure, progressions and extracting two or three themes from his work is a non-sense and is tantamount to quoting two sentences from Lost Illusions by Balzac and pretend you’ve read the book: it is not democratization but a lie.
Democratization? There is none required, at least not this way. Explain and convey your passion, I agree, but it requires a bigger effort for each side. The patient with an Andre Rieux syndrome makes you think he helps you understand and love music while he is only simplifying things. So, he takes you for a congenital idiot not able to rise to his “level”.
And it is logical because his ego is overdeveloped. He would do anything to get recognition, fame and money. Even sacrificing the most beautiful pages of the greatest composers on the altar of capitalism. Even playing Michael Jackson with a symphony orchestra. Poor Michael, he would have gone mad if he had heard.
And will it attract a new audience to classical music? No, but it will really become more profitable for the producer. The main aim is not to share a true musical moment with the audience, it is to generate the biggest income. It’s not enough to take you for a fool, the patient with this syndrome has to rip you off: classical concerts are far cheaper than a ticket for a show à la Rieux.
If you recognize a Andre Rieux syndrome, think of me and buy a concert ticket for a classical concert: I’m sure you’ll like it, you will not be taken for a fool, it will cost you less and you will certainly experience a much better quality of performance.