Classical music is no longer limp background of funerals and study sessions: it’s turning people on. Roman Coppola’s Mozart In the Jungle is getting audiences hot and bothered with the operatic sex of middle-aged divas and angsty composers. Yuja Wang is reinventing what it means to be a classical musician one skin-tight dress at a time. 16th Century composers from Britain are the soundtrack to 50 Shades of Grey bondage. All of this is great news, because sexualizing classical music hooks in an intrigued audience that comes to appreciate the eighth note complexities after the initial sex appeal.
Hailey Rutledge, the protagonist of Mozart in the Jungle, is a struggling musician with unrecognized talent – and a runaway sexual appetite. With the oboe and throaty giggles as her trademark, she becomes an assistant to the hazel-eyed conductor of the New York Symphony, Rodrigo. Each season has capitalized on breasts, promiscuity, and the vivid details of Rodrigo’s full-blooded affairs. However, Hailey didn’t confine herself to the rattail eccentricities of Rodrigo: Sleazy cellist Andrew Walsh fucks Hailey and paints f holes on her lower back. He was an egotistical slut, but there was something erotic about black paint smeared on her baby hairs. But the sex is a gateway to more complex messages: the dynamics between a conductor and his orchestra, the abuse of lower paid musicians, and the inherent sensuality of classical music.
Stravinsky and Bach are thrilling, but combined with bralettes, midnight snogging, and Tiffany jewels, they are even more so. Mozart in the Jungle caters to a new generation of “highbrow” millennials who want to stream good sex and good culture. We’re accepting, we’re creative, and we’re horny. In a way, Hailey Rutledge is all of us—we appreciate classical music while wanting to fuck the conductor.
Next, the sexualization of Mozart’s mind isn’t confined to Amazon Prime. Child prodigy Yuja Wang, a 29-year-old pianist from Beijing, is a sex icon for classical musicians everywhere. She can flaunt skin-tight dresses and five-inch heels while courting a Steinway.
She looks like a glittering, piano mermaid during her performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Her asymmetrical neckline combined with the intense (and at times, girlish) expressions created a sexy and confident character. She is the new face of a 21st century musician, one that can conquer Chopin and Versace in the same gasp.Her dresses and flitting fingers are rebel inspirations, especially for female musicians. She’s all about ditching the black turtlenecks in favor of promiscuity and talent. “I really don’t give a shit about what other people think” she said during a Bullit documentary. Yes, her dresses might be provocative, but their dipping backs and upper thigh grip match the daringness of her music (i.e. Beethoven’s Sonata No. 29). Her sexuality adds, rather than detracts, from the beauty of complicated pieces, the wild rhythm of a composer’s whim. The “Yuja Wang” style is shocking for an art acquainted with tuxes, stiff bow ties, and loafers from a Beall’s catalogue. But watch her Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, and you’ll be convinced her off-the-shoulder LBD was vital for the storming piece.
Finally, 50 Shades of Grey might be overrated, but at least these mommy-porn lovers are downloading classical music while they’re at it. The netherweb of music exploded after E.L James penned this Christian Grey line: “My taste is eclectic, Anastasia, everything from Thomas Tallis to the Kings of Leon. It depends on my mood.” The Tallis piece she was referring to, Spem in Alium, hit The Top 10 for classical music in its 2012 heyday. Featuring intertwining Latin and pulsing riffs, it gets you hot in a bizarre, vocal way. E.L. James eventually released “Fifty Shades Of Grey: The Classical Album,” a compilation of pieces she listened to while working on the novel.
I haven’t read 50 Shades. The movie was background noise while I was doing accounting homework. But a generation of sex-jaded females looking up (and buying) “sexy” classical works is amazing. It is kitschy that girls are buying into this music because of a fanfiction BDSM tale. However, James’ playlist is diverse and includes everything from Duet of the Flowers (Delibes) to Nocturne No. 1 in B Minor (Chopin). Who cares if the readers arrived at these masterpieces through ropes and chains? They’re now bonded by the beauty of these composers, which is the most important point. Also, the connection between literature and classical music (or music in general) is a little-explored way to enhance the story’s sensations. The words in a book can be static, but combined with the daintiness of Williams or the sauce of Bach, the storyline lives through print and sound.
There’s nothing wrong with rebranding “classicism” in a Victoria’s Secret fashion. If Cara Delavigne advertised Gershwin and Beethoven, they would be contemporary sensations. Some might argue the sex appeal is a pathetic attempt to sell upscale culture with push-up bras. I disagree. The sex appeal just leads to more people listening to violins and cellos. Orchestras across the country are facing financial woes and scanty audiences—if it’s okay to sexualize American football, Kit Kat bars, and bowel medicine, why not the New York Philharmonic? After all, classical music is a sound as ordinary as an Ed Sheeran or Tame Impala; it’s just performed in a more studied, structured way.