Ah, but in many ways they don't. But first let me point out ways that they do:
- All forms and genres of music contain examples of real virtuosity because musicians learn how to do tricky and complex things and they like to show them off
- In every kind of music, there are some players for whom fast passages come naturally
- In jazz, virtuosity is expressed, not only in technique, but in improvisational ingenuity
I'm sure I could quote all sorts of examples from Alvin Lee to Van Halen to gypsy fiddlers to flamenco guitarists, but no need. We have all heard instrumental virtuosity of this kind. Heck, even actors can fake it a bit (sorry, Blogger won't embed):
But here is the difference: all of this virtuosity, all, is based on instrumental athleticism, finding how to do quick and clever things on the instrument. It is also something that each individual virtuoso develops based on their own individual skills. This is entirely different from the technical command necessary to play classical music really well. What is the difference? I think the main one is that non-classical instrumental virtuosity (and that practiced in classical music as well, up until the 17th century) is based on finger (or lip, or throat) virtuosity, but in classical music for quite a while now, it is all about precise control of dynamics, articulation, phrasing, timbre and a bunch of other subtleties that we don't have names for. And all this is directly related to the specific musical context, not to the performer's skill set.
Now you might protest that other kinds of virtuosity, for example that of Stevie Ray Vaughan, is all about intense expressivity and that is true. But it still emanates from and is based on the skill set of the performer, not the objective requirements of the composition because, in the blues, the individual voice of the performer is, to a large extent, the composition. But if you are playing a sonata by Beethoven, you have to accept and master a very complex set of skills that are entirely developed to allow the musical content and structure to be communicated clearly and beautifully. Completely different thing:
And then there is this, where, except for the trills, there is almost no conventional virtuosity--it is all in the expression: