A survey by Reader’s Digest has revealed so-called shocking statistics about the British public’s lack of knowledge of classical music. Now, noone is disputing that the figures look bad (75% did not know that Elgar wrote ‘Pomp and Circumstance’, and 27% did not know he was a composer), but are they actually surprising? Classical music still finds it hard to shake off the image that it is difficult and elitist, but a lot of music education doesn’t do much to help dispel this. Further, does not knowing Elgar’s name prevent an appreciation of Pomp and Circumstance? Of course not. Sixty-one per cent of respondents said they liked classical music, so not knowing names is clearly not putting people off. Not knowing who Lady Gaga is wouldn’t stop someone from dancing along, and this feels uncomfortably like a chance for those who are classical music aficionados to feel smug – which is really not going to help its image. It’s all very well to climb aboard one’s high horse and look down at those who think that Bocconcini is a composer (when, obviously, Boccooncini is an Italian cheese ball), but I didn’t know that, and I both listen to classical music and have Music A-level. A question like that is just setting people up to look foolish. That aside, the fact that one third of respondents to the survey never listened to classical music is the more pertinent figure – after all, it’s hardly gobsmacking that people have little specialist knowledge of a something they never listen to.