ABC Classic lacks diversity

It is profoundly disappointing that there remains a huge gender disparity at ABC Classic FM. For example, for the top 100 composers countdown, only six were women. The channel celebrated Beethoven as the number 1 composer, what about Elena Kats-Chernin or Hildegard von Bingen? In previous top 100 competitions (Classic 100 Love, Baroque and Before, Music of France, Symphony, Chamber Music, Opera, Piano, Concerto, etc) female composers comprise less than 10 per cent in each case.

Why does this inequity continue to exist? Surely when Beethoven’s Ninth is played for 70 minutes we should get 70 minutes of Clara Schumann or Fanny Mendelssohn? When Wagner’s Ring Cycle is played for 17 hours we should hear a similar time of Francesca Caccini, Barbara Strozzi, Amy Beach or Hildegard of Bingen?

It is time that the last bastion of male privilege – classical composition – be finally beaten down. We want to hear the great women composers. We have heard enough of JS Bach, JC Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Chopin, Bizet, Rossini, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Handel, Vivaldi, Schubert, Rachmaninov, Elgar, Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Brahms, John Williams, Sibelius, Sculthorpe, Puccini, Mahler, Verdi, Debussy, Saint-Saens, Shostakovich, Haydn, Part, Gershwin, Ravel, Grieg and so on. We want to hear more female composers.

About Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus

I'm a retired general who occasionally gets called back to save the republic before returning to my plough.
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31 Responses to ABC Classic lacks diversity

  1. Chris

    The important point is that upper-middle-class women are appropriating the Classics as resources in their personal status struggle. That’s all that matters.

  2. C.L.

    LOL.

    If they axe the Sunday opera and stop broadcasting ‘classic’ music that’s actually poststructuralist noise, I’ll overlook the lack of Fanny.

    In the mean time, I hope this helps:

  3. AndrewWA

    Can we just listen to good music???

  4. a reader

    Don’t give them ideas. It’s bad enough with their choice of presenters.

  5. Yes, we should also be politically correct in presenting and listening tom music. “It is time that the last bastion of male privilege be beaten down” Give me a break

  6. Rex Mango

    Stopped listening to ABC Classic FM so many years ago due lack of diversity. These people need to grow up.

    CL, that film clip by Kate Bush is a masterpiece, out of a song that is better than the book, which is also amazing.

  7. Bruce of Newcastle

    Surely ABC Classic should start playing other types of music for diversity. Rap, trance and Turfan throat music are severely underrepresented! Ok, I am not sure about the throat music as I haven’t actually listened to ABC Classic for a very long time. But if they don’t play it they should. And bongo drums. You can never be too diverse!

  8. Herodotus

    They should stick to their knitting and deliver “angel’s trumpets and devil’s trombones”, plenty of Ludwig Van.
    Diversity at the ABC means that they have a transitioning presenter, Eddie.

  9. hzhousewife

    And where are the wheelchair-bound dwarf musicians, with a rare disease. Equality for all !

  10. nb

    What of the transgender composers and performers?
    What of melanin rich composers and performers?
    What of 16 year old composers and performers?
    How oppressive can you be?

  11. sfw

    Why is there an ABC Classic FM at all? A fraction of a fraction of 1% of the population would listen to it and those who do are more than likely to be quite well off. Another subsidised service along with theatre and ballet and art in general, for those who prefer other people to pay for their pleasures.

  12. Phill

    If you play that Kate Bush song with the sound off, while singing “I’m a little teapot”, it works well. Just sayin’.

  13. I_am_not_a_robot

    It’s some time since I listened to ABC Classic FM.
    It was the desperate attempts to move to composer gender equality that drove me away, after all there is only so much Elena Kats-Chernin a music lover can take.
    I now stream mostly Venice Classical Radio and Radio Swiss Classical.

  14. a happy little debunker

    ABC Classic lacks diversity

    How many of these were composers that have also featured in JJJ’s Hottest 100 – This is in of itself ageism in practice.

    Who would dare say that “detachable penis’ is not a modern classic?

  15. James

    Elena Kats-etc must get a minimum of 20 mentions per day. Then there’s my old Ayr Ave neighbour Miriam Hyde now “rediscovered” and, along with Margaret Sutherland, causing more switch-offs than a useless wind “farm”. All excitedly announced by the heavy-emphasis-on-the-last-word-of-every-sentence Buzza MAANN. (Writing’s on the wall, Buzza.)

  16. Tel

    The Chinese have plenty of classical music from their Imperial period, such that survived the Cultural Revolution of course. Why so much racism at the ABC?

    I think an allocated percentage of highbrow Indian tabla would also be a reasonable thing to ask.

    Tibetan throat singing … there’s a classic for you, need some of that for the diversity.

    Come to think of it, why have a “classic FM” at all? With real diversity all channels would sound like all other channels. Having separate channels for the listener to choose from is the very essence of discrimination, isn’t it? This is a design to encourage Australians to be discriminating in what they listen to. The more I think about this, the more obvious it becomes that only one ABC channel must be allowed in order to be fully diverse.

  17. areff

    Easy solution borrowed from the Mormons, who believe in posthumous baptism: re-identify Beethoven, Elgar and 50% of all composers on the play list as women. Problem solved.

  18. Rococo Liberal

    Why would you listen to ABC Classic FM when you can stream Radio 3?

  19. Geriatric Mayfly

    Switch on, a Mozart sonata enriching the airwaves, sit down to relax. Next: a piece by Birtwhistle, the presenter at great pains to explain the connection between the two. Switch off, kick the cat. That’s the basic format for ABC Classic FM. The audience must be edumacated to appreciate the mindless noise of modern composeurs and literally dragged out of their attachment to true music makers. Gave up the battle years ago.

  20. classical_hero

    It’s the only radio channel I listen to. Don’t allow them to destroy it.

  21. Chris

    It’s the only radio channel I listen to. Don’t allow them to destroy it.

    Its true they are pretty damn good.
    That is, apart from the desperate conflict as they attempt to over-represent female composers.
    And apart from the gentle air of distaste Margaret Throsby would display when she interviewed people on the luvvies’ ‘hate’ list.
    On second thoughts, they don’t have Graeme Abbott any more. Flick ’em.

  22. Up The Workers!

    I don’t listen to the A.L.P.B.C., so can anybody advise whether they actually broadcast all their wutherings in stereo, or do they only broadcast the left channel twice?

    If they don’t broadcast a right channel at all, surely that justifies at least a 50% budget reduction.

  23. Leo G

    When Wagner’s Ring Cycle is played for 17 hours we should hear a similar time of Francesca Caccini, Barbara Strozzi, Amy Beach or Hildegard of Binge

    Please, no- but if we wring out Wagner’s boring hours the 17 hours could be reduced to a more wakeful 17 minutes.

  24. Tezza

    Please, don’t wind the ABC up with this joke. They are quite likely to take you seriously.
    From time to time, ABC Classic has indeed featured women composers exclusively, for International Wimmins Day or some such. The results have been occasionally excellent (such as the examples you give) but mostly second rate.
    The very existence of ABC Classic and ABC’s excellent streaming ‘station’ for jazz is interesting. They are the sort of exercises in cultural education in the roots of our civilisation that were part of the original Reithian justification for public broadcasting. According to Wikipedia, those values
    include an equal consideration of all viewpoints, probity, universality and a commitment to public service. Reith’s goal was to broadcast, “All that is best in every department of human knowledge, endeavour and achievement…. The preservation of a high moral tone is obviously of paramount importance.”

    Of course, the continued existence of ABC classic and jazz is these days slightly embarrassing to our ABC. There is a never-ending effort to get ABC Classic, in particular, to bend to the broader ABC post-modern narrative. The ABC cares nought for the destruction, through its execrable ‘comedy’, ‘news’ and ‘current affairs’ offerings, of the cultural capital that is embodied in its worthy tradition of classical and jazz programming.

  25. Old Lefty

    Just so, Tezza. The Red Guards in Radio National and JJJ have tried to have Classic FM abolished in the past, and it’s a miracle that it survives at all. It took a 25% but when Mark Scott (that prime example of Stockholm Syndrome) was distributing Abbott’s five per cent cut to the organisation as a whole – presumably to punish it for its bourgeois elitist attachment to the Western tradition.

  26. Gregor

    Please! Not even in jest.

  27. MACK

    “Elena Kats-etc must get a minimum of 20 mentions per day” That’s right and her stuff is just ditties for children.
    ABC Classic is completely redundant in the age of the internet – you can listen to 2MBS, 3 MBS, 4MBS etc with no need for government involvement.
    However – they did have a whole weekend of female composers in March and some of the music was outstandingly good.

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