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Academic: Calling composers by their surnames is racist

Referring to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven by only their surname discriminates against black or female composers who are called by their full names, an academic has stated.

Chris White, an assistant professor of music theory at Massachusetts Amherst University, believes that there is a “two-tiered” system in which black artists such as Henry Burleigh and women such as Alma Mahler have a lower status.

In an article for the website Slate, Mr White said: “[Conductors] might talk about Beethoven, Schumann... Alma Mahler, Henry Burleigh, Caroline Shaw. White male composers [are] introduced with only surnames; full names for everyone else, especially women and composers of colour.”

When we say, 'Tonight, you'll be hearing symphonies by Brahms and Edmond Dede,' we're linguistically treating the former as being on a different plane than the latter, a difference originally created by centuries of systematic prejudice, exclusion, sexism, and racism.

To change the situation, the author urged people to use the composers' full names so "we can focus more on their music rather than on the past cultural practices that elevated straight white men at the expense of everyone else."

The piece was immediately ridiculed online, with many feeling its take was far-fetched and too much even for a liberal magazine.

Source: Slate
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