I was very disappointed a handful of years ago when I overheard a musician I really respect advise a conductor not to bother with "x" kind of music and to program "real" music for an upcoming concert season. Perhaps my friend was trying to impress the conductor. I don't know, but the phrase "real music" has bothered me for years. I come across the phrase from time to time, spoken by both practicing musicians, and by those who do not play. It bothers me every time I hear it.
What is real music anyway? What makes it not real (whatever "x" kind of music might have been) as opposed to real?
Aside from talking about music, we rarely use the term "real" non literally. An example of real piece of art would be an original work, not its reproduction. An example of a real piece of real furniture would be an actual bed rather than a piece of foam on the floor. Real vanilla extract would be different from imitation vanilla extract. Real meat would be different from fake meat. A real friend would be different from a fair-weather friend. A real diamond would be different from a piece of cut glass. A real signature on a check would be different from a forgery. A real dog is very different from a toy dog. Real cheese is different from imitation cheese.
If I play a piece by Granville Bantock (and I'm working on one now), it is no less real than a piece by Edward Elgar, or Johannes Brahms, yet because Bantock is not a particularly popular composer these days (please leave a comment if you have even heard of him before looking him up on google), he could be dismissed as being an unknown composer (at least to most people), and therefore not important. His music could be dismissed as being "not real" because it is no longer part of the standard repertoire.
If Bantock pays homage to Brahms by using similar voicing once in a while, or if he imitates Bizet by quoting a motive from Carmen, does that make Bantock's music "imitation Brahms" or "imitation Bizet." If Bach imitates Vivaldi, does that make Bach's music "imitation Vivaldi?" I don't think so.