Friday, October 5, 2012

Classical Music

Classical music (클래식 음악, keullaesik eumak) is everywhere in Korea. I don't hear it just on the radio and the TV at home, but also in so many other places, some which you might not expect. A snippet of something like Mozart plays over the PA system at my school to signal the beginning and end of every period. Für Elise and Grieg's piano concerto has been on the regular programming on the outdoor speakers in the park (공원) next to my apartment complex where I jog. In the parking garage (다층식 주차장) at Homeplus (Korea's take on Target), it was unmistakably Saint-Saëns that I heard. In a parking garage. And when I visited larger cities with subway systems, such as Seoul or Busan, I got the same pleasant classical music jingle (Vivaldi, this time) on the platform as a train approached, and even on the train when a transfer station was coming up.

Strangest of all was the soundtrack for a radio advertisement (광고): the epic fourth movement of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5. (I'm not sure what it was actually promoting, because the speaking portion of the ad was in Korean.)

Now that my world is over-saturated with Korean dance pop music, I enjoy these brief moments of classical when they come. I just wish that they were more common and also that they were not just commercialized sound bites. And I really, really miss playing in chamber groups and in orchestra... There are plenty of music festivals in Korea, and with it now being the height of festival season (October is probably the best time for tourism here), I just might check one out.

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