Why Do Classical Musicians Look So Dour?

I check Apple Music for new releases from time to time, and I usually look at the Classical genre. This week, I was struck by the range of dour expressions on the faces of the musicians.

Matt Haimowitz looks like he’s desperately trying to smile, but forgot how.

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Bill Murray – he’s on a classical album – and Jan Vogler look like they’d rather be somewhere else. To be fair, Bill Murray looks a lot happier than he usually does.

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Richard Narroway looks like he’s holding the wrong instrument, and is trying to figure out how to explain this to the photographer.

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Benny Anderson, of ABBA fame, is questioning whether he really want’s to be part of this “classical music” thing.

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Mari Samuelson looks like she’s preparing for future mugshots; but with killer makeup, just in case.

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But Yo-Yo Ma saves the day, with that infectious smile of his, as if to say, “To hell with this, I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, and it’s not a big deal any more.”

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12 thoughts on “Why Do Classical Musicians Look So Dour?

  1. Actually, I kind of like Mari Samuelson’s photo. How many of these artists smiled in other cover images? Not everyone is happy all the time. As we all have many “sides” to each of us, why not, especially artists, show them all?

  2. Actually, I kind of like Mari Samuelson’s photo. How many of these artists smiled in other cover images? Not everyone is happy all the time. As we all have many “sides” to each of us, why not, especially artists, show them all?

  3. The dour look has long been a tradition with rock album cover artists photos as well. Maybe with a bit more youthful arrogance.

    I’ve done group portraits of friends where we did “rock album cover” parodies. I would tell them “Ok, do the rock album cover scowl” and everybody instantly knew what to do. So maybe the photographer is telling them to scowl.

    Alternative explanation: Maybe they are realizing they’re getting financially screwed by their label ;).

  4. The dour look has long been a tradition with rock album cover artists photos as well. Maybe with a bit more youthful arrogance.

    I’ve done group portraits of friends where we did “rock album cover” parodies. I would tell them “Ok, do the rock album cover scowl” and everybody instantly knew what to do. So maybe the photographer is telling them to scowl.

    Alternative explanation: Maybe they are realizing they’re getting financially screwed by their label ;).

  5. Up to the photographer and the stylist. I suspect that the record company suspect a smiling classical musician doesn’t look “serious” enough for the serious music blah blah woof woof.

  6. Up to the photographer and the stylist. I suspect that the record company suspect a smiling classical musician doesn’t look “serious” enough for the serious music blah blah woof woof.

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