Is Classical Music Boring? We’re Sounding Off

Classical music is often thought of as stuffy, insufferable, and boring.

violin and antique music score


But is it?

We’d argue that it’s not. The stereotypes fail to recognize the depth, beauty, and transportive power of classical music.

We’re ready to debunk the myth that classical music is boring by exploring its historical significance, its rich repertoire, the impact that it continues to have on music today, and more.

The Historical Significance of Classical Music

Classical music has a huge, rich history that dates back centuries.

Because of its breadth of influence, it has served as the foundation for, or been a major influence on, a major chunk of modern music.

There are many reasons why so many millions of musicians, in so many times and places, have been attracted to it!

Celebrated composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and others all contributed hundreds of hours of music to the art form, with each successive generation pushing the boundaries of expression in new ways.

The stories of these composers’ lives can provide a valuable entrance point into their music specifically and the genre of classical music generally.

For instance, Mozart was a child prodigy with a demanding stage father who toured Europe as a little boy. Beethoven survived an abusive childhood and battled ever-encroaching deafness over the course of his career. Tchaikovsky was gay and endured an ill-fated marriage due to the homophobia present during his lifetime.

TCHAIKOVSKY ~ Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor – LANG LANG / Järvi

Understanding more about the historical context and the people behind the music – and what they were thinking and feeling as they composed their works – can make that work much more interesting and intriguing than it otherwise might first appear.

The Emotional Power of Classical Music

One of the most remarkable aspects of classical music is its ability to evoke deep emotions in listeners.

From the meticulous craftsmanship of Bach’s keyboard works to the haunting melodies of Chopin’s nocturnes to the triumphant outbursts of Beethoven’s symphonies and beyond, classical music has the power to transport listeners to totally different times, places, and experiences.

It can express elation, devastation, and everything in between, allowing us to experience profound, even spiritual, connections with the music and its composers.

Listen to Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, transcribed for cello and piano. I dare you to be bored by this outpouring of emotion.

Capuçon . Lugansky – Rachmaninoff Vocalise, for Cello and Piano

The Sheer Vastness of Classical Music’s Repertoire

Classical music offers an incredibly vast repertoire, spanning various periods, styles, and cultures. It is one of the longest-lived genres of music, period.

Because of this, the stylistic range within the genre is unparalleled. Classical music can mean everything from church music dating from the 1300s to a Romantic era symphony played by over a hundred people to a concert of new music premieres for a small group at your local university.

Hildegard of Bingen: Caritas abundant in Omnia – Love Aboundeth In All Things

Classical music also features endless kinds of sounds. An orchestra alone features everything from the resonant roar of a double bass to the piercing squeak of a piccolo.

Somewhere in that mix of instruments is a sonority that will appeal to you.

Once you’ve identified an instrument you love to listen to, there will be sonatas, etudes, solos with orchestras, and more spotlighting that instrument to explore.

Piccoloist Erica Peel Performs Harberg’s Piccolo Sonata

Enjoying different instruments and subgenres within classical music can open up worlds of sonic exploration.

It’s practically guaranteed that somewhere in there, you will find a piece that appeals to you. So even if one piece might bore you, know that there are thousands more that probably won’t!

The Influence on Contemporary Music

Classical music continues to influence and inspire modern musicians.

Film scores often draw from classical music traditions, so much so that orchestras often give concerts where they play a film’s soundtrack as the movie plays on a screen above them.

LSO Star Wars live in concert

There are also lots of pieces of popular music that heavily rely on classical music, and lots of musicians who write music in non-classical genres have some measure of classical training.

Here’s the band Bon Iver playing on two pianos in a style very similar to classical composers John Adams or Steve Reich.

Bon Iver at AIR Studios

Pop superstar Lizzo famously draws on her classical music training while performing pop music. She recently made a visit to the Library of Congress to play President James Madison’s crystal flute, and then brought it onstage later that night for her Washington performance.

Lizzo plays James Madison’s flute at Library of Congress

Even the biggest pop star in the world, Taylor Swift, hired composer Bryce Dessner to do the orchestrations for her Grammy-winning album folklore. Her track epiphany, a song about the trauma of war and the pandemic, features piano, trombone, trumpet, viola, violin, and drums. (By the way, Swift made waves in 2019 when she donated $50,000 to the Seattle Symphony because she loved composer John Luther Adams’s new orchestra piece “Become Ocean.”)

Taylor Swift – epiphany

Turns out that classical musicians are everywhere once you start looking out for them! And if they think classical music is exciting, maybe you will, too.

The Transformative Experience of Hearing Live Music

Anyone who calls classical music boring probably hasn’t seen it performed live.

The grandeur of a symphony orchestra, the virtuosic precision of a chamber ensemble, or the intimacy of a solo recital can be utterly transporting experiences.

The energy, expertise, and passion displayed by the performers, combined with the custom-built acoustics of a concert hall, create an immersive experience that will surprise most listeners in the best way.

Hearing the roar of a Mahler symphony played by a great orchestra, or being a few feet away from a chamber music ensemble as they communicate with each other without words, is an unforgettable experience…the kind of striking thing that can stick with you forever.

Mahler – Symphony No. 5 | National Symphony Orchestra


Our final verdict? Classical music is not boring. On the contrary, it’s one of the most entertaining, deeply moving methods of human expression that we have.

Once you explore classical music’s historical significance – its emotional power – the size of the repertoire – its influence on contemporary music – and the transformative experience of hearing it performed live, it will become clear to you that, despite the stereotypes, classical music is anything but boring!

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