Changing dynamics of preferences for classical music: An inter-generational perspective

16 Nov 2015
10:30 - 11:00

Changing dynamics of preferences for classical music: An inter-generational perspective

In this paper the author demonstrates how a mixed methods study of cultural identities and music revealed preferences for traditional and classical music of three generations of families in selected Eastern European countries and in the UK. The preference for classical music from first listening experience to music participation, changes in musical taste, the transmission of musical preferences within families, and the role of family, and both domestic and international media and cultural contacts, were all observed.

Results from both the empirical study, “Cultural Identity and Music” (a component of the FP7 ENRI-EAST project), and the UK-based “Sound Bites” project conducted between 2008 and 2011 were used for the analysis. These studies were designed to explore cross-generational and cross-cultural links between music and local, national, and European identities, as well as their impact on families’ lifestyles and the sense of belonging.

This innovative mixed-methods approach, which included quantitative, biographical methods and focus groups revealed strong intergenerational, regional and national aspects in preferences for classical music. Classical music preferences in the study were identified on the basis of a “bottom-up” approach, where classification is based on peoples’ favourite pieces of music that were recorded and classified for the purpose of this analysis. This also enabled researchers to compare preferences for a variety of musical genres.

Dr Lyudmila Nurse is a professional sociologist and a director of Oxford XXI, the UK based strategic think tank organisation ( Having started her sociological career as a life course researcher in longitudinal projects, Lyudmila moved into biographical research and continued developing comparative approach in her research of cultural identities, music and belonging. She designed and led the Cultural Identities and Music study and was a designer of the biographical studies in the EC FP7 ENRI-EAST: Interplay of European, National and Regional identities project. Lyudmila is a member of the executive board of the Research Network 03 (RN03) “Biographical Perspectives on European Societies” and a member of RN07 “Sociology of Culture” of the European Sociological Association (ESA) and a member of the RC38 “Biography and society” of the International Sociological Association (ISA). She is a member of the Cultural, Scientific and Medical Advisory Board of the Music Mind Spirit Trust, UK. Her recent relevant publications are: Nurse, L., and Sik, E. (2011). ‘Identity and music. Identity of place and cultural identities of generations’ in: Axford, B. and Huggins, R. (eds) Cultures and/of globalization, Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing; Nurse, L. (2011) Music in the Identities of Ethnic Slovaks in Hungary in: Slovak Journal of Political Sciences, No3, Volume 11, 2011, pp249-266; Nurse, L., and Sik, E. (2012) “Zene és Identitás” (Music and Identities): in: Pro Minoritate, Budapest, Hungary (In Hungarian), pp.3-39; Nurse, L. (2013)”Biographical Approach in the Study of Ethnic Minorities in Eastern Europe in: Turk, j., Mrozovicki A.(eds), Realist Biography and European Policy: An Innovative Approach to European Policy Studies. University of Leuven, Belgium, pp.115-140.