Deathwatch - Is Classical Music Really Dying?

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BRINGIN' IT TO THE PEOPLE: Composer and San Francisco radio host Charles Amirkhanian is on a mission to unite the creators of new music with an increasingly skeptical public. His unique program on KPFK-FM makes few judgments, and refuses to cater to one particular style of composition. The resulting mish-mash of modern music has garnered an unlikely following for what Amirkhanian calls "outsider music." San Francisco Bay Guardian 03/07/01

JARVI'S GAMBLE: Kristjan Jarvi is convinced that modern audiences are smart enough to sit through, and enjoy, modern music. He is equally certain that classical music must adapt to and embrace the newer musical traditions if it is to survive in an age of music-on-demand. The result of these convictions is Absolute Ensemble, an 18-member group that breaks every rule of the concert hall in the hope of saving the staid, stuffy world of the classics from itself. Detroit Free Press 02/25/01

FAILURE TO REINVENT: Here and there, a few signs of success in the orchestral world. But by and large, orchestras are in a death spiral, with little good news to cheer about as they circle the drain. The Telegraph (London) 02/21/01

CLASSICAL COMEBACK: Classical music was steadily losing its listener base in the UK just a decade ago, but now it’s more popular than ever. Concert attendance and CD sales are up, and this week’s "Gramophone" magazine recorded its highest-ever circulation figures. Even demand for music lessons and instrument-making is booming. "Why it has happened is a bit harder to understand. Whatever the web of reasons, the fact that classical music is now firmly a mass-market phenomenon is to be welcomed." The Herald (Glasgow) 2/19/01

DOING IT RIGHT: Nearly every symphony orchestra in the U.S. has conceived of some sort of "casual classics" series designed to bring in listeners who ordinarily shy away from the pomp and circumstance of the concert hall. But most of these series program little more than elevator music, and assume that the rock'n'roll generation will be turned off by anything challenging. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's new "Classic Encounters" series tries the opposite approach. Chicago Sun-Times 02/15/01

HOW TO RUIN A SYMPHONY:  Nothing can spoil a climactic moment in a performance like a beeping watch or a chirruping cell phone, and increasingly, concertgoers are disregarding warnings to shut them off. But in an industry desperate to attract the public, most managements are loath to take any harsh measures to enforce the ban. Boston Herald 02/15/01

DON'T SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER: Put him or her on the Endanger Species List. The classic piano recital seems to be a fading pleasure - there are fewer with each passing year. "Wasn’t there a time... when the image of a noble profile, white tie and tails, and fingers flying across black and white keys was the personification of classical music?" New York Observer 02/14/01

SIGNING OFF: Although most American cities are lucky to have even one classical radio station, Chicago had long prided itself on its ability to sustain several. No more. Chicago's WNIB abandoned its classical music format at midnight Sunday, leaving WFMT as the city's only commercial classical station. Chicago Sun-Times 02/13/01

DEMOCRACY AND THE NEW NEW GROVES: "Traditionally, musicologists have regarded music as a qualitative pyramid, with Bach at the top, Hungarian folk singers somewhere in the middle, and Eminem at the bottom. Since the first edition, however, the quiet congregation of music scholars that used to spend much of its time seeking new ways to explain the greatness of the great composers has been shaken by a rude outbreak of postmodernism. The old pyramid model has been partially displaced by the idea that music is a constellation of equally valid systems, shaped in part by power relations, sexuality and social context." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/12/01

THE CLASSICAL NET: "Nobody knows yet if the Internet will be a boon or bust in the long term for American orchestras, opera companies, chamber ensembles and solo musicians. But classical groups large and small are mounting some interesting experiments. In an inherently conservative field, visionaries see the Internet becoming a super-efficient box office for concert ticket sales, a global network for selling CDs and a vehicle for broadcasting live concerts." Chicago Sun-Times 02/11/01

CLASSICAL FORMAT DOESN'T ROCK ENOUGH: Longtime Chicago classical music station WNIB was recently sold for $165 million, one of the highest prices ever paid for a Chicago station. Prices for FM stations have skyrocketed since 1996 when the industry was deregulated. the high price almost ensures that WNIB will cease broadcasting classical. The format can make money - but not enough to justify the purchase price. The New York Times 01/31/01 (one-time registration required for access)

  • COMMITMENT TO CLASSICAL? Chicago's mom-and-pop classical music station WNIB was a labor of love - a low-budget afair that survived decades of buy-out offers on the strength of its owners' commitment. But $165 million is too much money to turn down... Also too much money for the new owners to continue the classical format. Chicago Tribune 12/13/00
  • ANOTHER ENDANGERED CLASSICAL MUSIC STATION: Chicago is one of the rare US cities that has two classical music stations. That may soon change. WNIB, the second station, has been sold, and it's not considered likely that the new owners will keep the classical format. Chicago Sun-Times 12/04/00
  • DEATHWATCH: A mood befitting a bedside vigil has descended on Chicago's classical music community, with tributes issued, guarded hopes expressed and numerous experts trying to determine whether WNIB's situation was symptomatic of some grave illness plaguing America's classical music scene. Chicago Tribune 12/04/00

BITING THE HAND THAT FEEDS:  Minnesota Public Radio is the 800-lb. gorilla of classical music radio. The network not only broadcasts throughout the Upper Midwest, its "Classical 24" satellite service provides programming to more than 250 stations nationwide. Increasingly, MPR is under fire for the incessant "dumbing down" of classical music on the air, and one of the network's own news-talk hosts took on the man in charge of such programming on her public affairs show. "Midmorning," Minnesota Public Radio 1/23/01 [RealAudio file]

WIRED UP CLASSICAL: Seventy-three American orchestras have embraced the digital age with an agreement about putting their music on the net. So will music fans want to listen? Sure, "15,000 of them took to the net and paid $2 to listen to the New York Philharmonic with conductor and violin soloist Itzhak Perlman performing two hours of Brahms, Bach and Beethoven." Wired 01/22/01

SOMETHING ABOUT WINNIPEG IN JANUARY: The Winnipeg New Music Festival manages to draw thousands to a week of concerts filled with challenging music. The festival is ten years old and no one can explain exactly why the city has taken to contemporary music with such gusto. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/23/01

IS THE CONCERT HALL DYING? Is the live concert experience tottering on its last legs? The ritual of "musicians playing to audiences in buildings designed solely for that purpose - could soon be a thing of the past. Already it is beginning to look like a relic of another age - an age when people had time and leisure to give up an evening for two or three hours of potentially less-than-perfect music- making." The Guardian (London) 01/19/01

THE MEANING OF OPERA: "The old definition of opera - people singing instead of talking - stopped working long ago. Music becomes operatic, says present conventional wisdom, when it's used as the primary means to illuminate characters and tell stories. Opera is one of America's fastest growing fine arts, especially with the under-50 crowd. The opera subscription is what you get after you've bought your BMW and worn out your Frank Sinatra records." Philadelphia Inquirer 01/16/01

CLASSICAL MUSIC LITE: Classical music radio is not exactly a thriving format in America. But where it does thrive, the artform is often inverted, with "serious" composers such as Brahms relegated to the second string in favor of frothy fare by von Suppe and Giuliani (Mauro). Certainly no 20th Century fare. These short easily- digestible morsels subvert the weight of the repertoire. Why? Minneapolis Star Tribune 01/14/01

THE NEW SING: Until a few years ago, the song recital was one of the most formalized stiff rituals on the concert stage. But a new brand of losser, less-formal recital has emerged. "It's a challenging, more naked way to go, and the typically modest financial rewards for such endeavors haven't gotten any better." Philadelphia Inquirer 01/14/01

THE DEATH OF NEW MUSIC? "New music is at an impasse—you can't convince people it exists. There is a certain small culture around it, but it is impossible to get power brokers outside that culture to believe that anything is going on. The official line is, classical music is finished, a closed book, Glass, Reich, and maybe John Zorn the end of history. And it does not help that jazz is ever more officially referred to as 'America's classical music'. First of all, what is that supposed to do for jazz? Legitimize it, make it blandly respectable and therefore ignorable? And it slaps those composers whose training is classical out of the water." Village Voice 01/09/01

GLAMOROUS BUT CAN THEY PLAY? A new generation of female classical musician is taking to stages with more glamorous (and sometimes suggestive) marketing. Does it make a difference to how they play? "People say it's because of what we look like that we get guff, but it's not — it's because we're women. It has nothing to do with being attractive or not attractive. But somehow there's an inherent sexism in classical music that has always been there. And finally, we're breaking that down." Sonicnet 01/09/01

AT GREAT COST: John Eliot Gardiner spent the year 2000 recording the Bach cantatas. "The haul was long, encompassing 93 concerts at 61 churches in 12 countries, performed by his 18-voice Monteverdi Choir and 35-member English Baroque Soloists. The price tag was $8 million. The project will be held up as a model of either realizing the impossible or stretching a thriving organization to the breaking point, since there was one significant casualty: Gardiner's longtime relationship with the recording company Deutsche Grammophon." Philadelphia Inquirer 01/08/01

  • BACKING OUT ON BACH: Deutsche Grammophon and its parent company, Universal, take the prize for chutzpah after finking out on John Eliot Gardiner in the middle of his massive cantata cycle - the Bach Pilgrimage, as it was called. The British conductor and his musicians have been spending the year dragging themselves through Europe and the United States, trying to perform all 198 of Bach's surviving cantatas, each one on the particular day of the liturgical year for which it was written - some 90 concerts in 15 countries, all in 'interesting' churches. The plan was that DGG would record them all and release one a week. But last July the record company decided it was all a tad pricey and pulled out, leaving the already cash-strapped Gardiner and his merry band of musicians scrambling for funds." National Post (Canada) 12/20/00
  • JOHN ELIOT GARDINER AXED: Deutsche Grammophon has canceled its recording contract with John Eliot Gardiner. This just as Gardiner finishes recording "his remarkable series of 200 cantatas in a year-long 'pilgrimage' to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Bach's death. Sales of expensive new classical performances are plummeting, and the major corporations are cancelling contracts with all but the most bankable and attractive of celebrity performers." The Independent (London) 12/17/00

REBUILDING LA: A year ago when Deborah Borda took over management of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the orchestra was in shambles, with a $7 million debt and attendance and morale problems. "By September, the end of fiscal year 1999-2000, the Phil's operating deficit had been reduced to less than $200,000. To date, this season's ticket sales are up an average of 13% per concert following 10 years of steady decline - good news, but still 25% behind ticket sales a decade ago." Los Angeles Times 01/07/01

NOT JUST THE HITS: Why is orchestral programming so stuck in the past? "The message to audiences would be: You can count on us to sift through the centuries and present only the agreed-upon masterpieces of the past, with occasional, carefully commissioned works by living composers deemed capable of producing new masterpieces." Don't we need some freshening? New York Times 01/07/01 (one-time registration required for access)

THE LITTLE-GUY CONSORTIUM: Big recording companies are consolidating and folding up their classical operations. And small labels have a hard time advertising and getting shelf space. Now a new consortium of small classical labels hopes that by consolidating their efforts they'll thrive. Sonicnet 01/02/01

JOHN ADAMS ON BEING A COMPOSER TODAY: "It's been my impression that in terms of commissions there's never been a more bullish period in American history. There are all these operas being commissioned. San Francisco Opera has commissioned 4 or 5 operas, and the Met is on a big commissioning program, Chicago, those are all the big ones, and the smaller companies are commissioning like crazy, and orchestras are commissioning works, so it seems like actually this is a tremendously good time to be alive as a composer of large-scale works." NewMusicbox 01/01

THE PROBLEM WITH OPERA: Opera has enjoyed increasing popularity in recent years. "But the fact that repertory companies, overseas as well as here, avoid placing many of the great modernist works on stage for fear of alienating traditionalist audiences is almost a tragedy in itself. Here we are at the beginning of the 21st century and three quarters of the major achievements of the last, are not performed." The Age (Melbourne) 01/02/01

REPORTS OF MY DEATH... Eight years ago tales of doom and gloom about American orchestras were rampant. "Despite the troubling statistics - in 1992 three-quarters of American orchestras were posting debts - the business of making music has improved markedly over the past eight years. Today, three-quarters of American orchestras are balancing their books each season, accumulated debt has decreased, and some prominent and once-troubled groups have enjoyed unprecedented philanthropic favor and are on the road to stability." Washington Post 12/31/00

CLASSICAL DEFINITION: "What is the relationship of America's classical music to its popular music? Should singers be allowed to go back and forth between the opera house and popular radio? Are Broadway musicals the real American opera? Should symphonic composers use jazz and popular music in their works? There was a very good reason - cultural self-definition - to have these discussions, but at some point it should have become obvious that these were mostly hollow questions about the status of different types of music, rather than real issues of substance." Washington Post 12/31/00

LOOKING GOOD AT 400: Opera is 400 years old and still going strong. "One way in which opera stays healthy is by reinventing itself every generation or so. The old stereotypes - plump matrons impersonating tender young consumptives, tenors strutting their high Cs at the footlights - are so yesterday. Audiences are more demanding of opera now. It's no longer enough just to have great singing; people expect a total visual, dramatic and musical experience for their buck. Chicago Tribune 12/24/00

TAKING A CHANCE ON SOMETHING NEW: "Most orchestras are still wedded to the time-honored image of a paternalistic European music director steeped in the Romantic tradition. And as luck would have it, right now there simply aren't enough of those guys to go around." So how about a new approach? How about some moxie and inventiveness? San Francisco Chronicle 12/17/00

TORONTO SYMPHONY DEFICIT: After a musicians' strike and a prolonged search for a new executive director, the Toronto Symphony has posted the largest deficit in its history. "The orchestra now has an accumulated deficit of $4.9 million, after an operating loss of $2.3 million this past year." CBC 12/11/00

WHAT DEFINES A CLASSIC? "Occasionally we act as though artistic worth were constant across the ages - hence the phrase 'timeless classic' - but it isn't so. The past, as novelist L.P. Hartley remarked, is another country, and the future another one still. Why assume that audiences in all those countries value the same things? And why assume that the things valued by future listeners are more profound and more important than those that appeal to a composer's contemporaries?" San Francisco Chroinicle 12/10/00

MAKING RECORDING PAY: At a time when classical music recording labels are floundering, the London Symphony Orchestra, which started its own recording label last year, is actually turning a profit."This may not be the answer to all the industry's ills, but it certainly promises a wider variety of new recordings than might otherwise be on offer, whatever happens to all those labels that have dominated the field for so long." The Guardian (London) 12/08/00

A DISASTER OF OPERATIC PROPORTIONS: Britain's TV channel 4 scored one of the worst ratings in its history Saturday night with its filmed version of Glyndebourne youth opera Zoe. "The programme was watched by a mere 300,000 viewers, one of the broadcaster's worst prime-time audiences ever." The Guardian (London) 12/05/00

AUSTRALIAN ORCHESTRAS WARNED: Leading new music proponents warn that Australia's six major orchestras risk becoming marginalized and irrelevant if they don't do better at promoting new repertoire. "I’m concerned that the former ABC orchestras are now merely an ornament in our cultural lives dedicated to perpetuating the European canon." Gramophone 12/00

TOUGH SEASON: Argentina's National Symphony is wrapping up its season. But it's been a tough year for the orchestra. Due to "indifference" by the government and withholding of funding "several concerts had to change programme or artists, and many didn’t get paid, along with programme-note writers, purveyors of orchestral parts, and, most grievously, the Auditorio de Belgrano." Buenos Aires Herald 11/30/00

OPERA BROADCASTS CLOUDY? The Metropolitan Opera saturday broadcasts begin their new season this weekend. But there is anxiety about the future. Texaco has sponsored the Met broadcasts for 60 years, the longest continuous sponsorship in America. The company has recently merged with Chrevron though, and neither company will commit to the future. Hartford Courant 12/01/00

THE BEHAVE-AS-YOU-WANT CROWD: "Classical concerts are a free-for-all these days, with no human behavior apparently too shabby for public display. Last week at the Academy of Vocal Arts, a trio behind me reviewed the singers in real time. Part of this orchestras have brought on themselves. In an effort to drum up business, they have stressed informality and accessibility. The come-as-you-are message of the 1990s has been interpreted beyond its intended sartorial directive. It has come to mean behave-as-you-want." Philadelphia Inquirer 11/21/00

IN THIS CORNER...THE BATTLING TOSCA: The rock 'em sock 'em World Wrestling Federation has become one of the major sponsors of the Connecticut Grand Opera & Orchestra's Education Program. "It would seem like there are a lot of differences, but there are facets of both that are the same. They perform on a stage, we perform on a stage. They have a story line with good and evil, greed and jealousy, just like we do. The only difference is they solve things through singing, we solve things using various household objects such as tables, chairs or ladders." Hartford Courant 11/10/00

HOW TO MAKE MUSIC BORING: Almost 4,000 musicologists from around the world gathered in Toronto in the largest musicological gathering in history to present about a thousand academic papers. "Classical music is failing an awful lot of people. Boring concerts and lack of classical music programs in the schools are partly to blame. But so is boring musicology. Granted, I only heard a handful of papers over the weekend. But almost all of them - whether on pop or classical music - were jargon-laden, intellectually trivial, poorly written and atrociously delivered." National Post (Canada) 11/07/00

AN OPERA HOUSE OUT OF TOUCH: London's Royal Opera House has become increasingly more foreboding to everyday people, not less. "It has become increasingly impossible to defend £20 million of public money subsidising this exclusive club year after year, not to mention the £78 million lottery grant for the rebuilding." So maybe a little populist flair is in order... The Times (London) 11/07/00

IS CLASSICAL MUSIC IN TROUBLE? Composer John Corigliano worries. "There's so much to take its place now. With Internet and 500 TV channels; I can see that those things [we view today as] essential can be left behind. It's easy to avoid it and still have a full life without it. And it's changing hourly. I don't know if it's a good thing. [But] there will always be people who love what we do." 11/02/00

DO THE MATH: "Music, you would think, is manufactured in the Old Economy, and the distributed free of charge as common property by the New. Yet in that case, is the New Economy an economy at all any longer? Who would go on providing music if buyers want to purchase at one price only, namely that of zero, getting it for free? The Net's great promise – that every ware should preferably be shareware – does it not overlook that this 'everything' has to be produced before it can be distributed?" Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 11/01/00

OFF ON ITS OWN: There are a few hotbeds of contemporary music where both the musicians and the audiences are engaged in the music. But why are they separated off from the mainstream? Ghettoizing new music does no favor to the music establishment. Traditional programs could benefit from the energy of the new. New York Times 10/29/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

CHICAGO IN BALANCE: For the 14th season in 15 years, the Chicago Symphony has balanced its budget, posting a modest surplus on a $55 million annual budget. "Attendance at CSO concerts was up 2.3 percent overall, from 257,336 to 263,376. Ticket revenue rose to $15.6 million from $14.7 million." Chicago Sun-Times 10/26/00

IN SICKNESS OR IN HEALTH... Collecting recordings is becoming a dicey proposition. Mergers of recording companies, endangerment of long-favored labels, and the growth of downloadable music on the internet is a threat to the collector. Just why do people collect recordings? Can they adapt to the new world of music recording? The Guardian (London) 10/20/00

THE ART OF SELF PRESERVATION: "These days, one of the tasks with which orchestras find themselves saddled is the nearly impossible one of educating audiences. Schools aren't doing it, and neither are most parents. Orchestra musicians themselves may resent the kind of musical spoon-feeding they are called on to do by the organization for which they work. But even many of them realize that it's a question of self-preservation; for better or worse, you don't have to wait for Aunt Buffy to will you her orchestra subscription to get a seat at the Academy of Music." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/19/00

OPERATIC DILEMMA: "If other artforms are in a constant scramble to reinvent themselves, opera gives the singular impression of a maiden aunt cast upon a desert island, clutching her trousseau of frocks circa 1910 and a pile of 78s of 'Great Voices of the Century' ready to play 'Desert Island Discs'. It is a source of some anxiety to opera companies, not just locally, but around the world, that their audiences are getting older." The Age (Melbourne) 10/16/00

RAGE AGAINST THE DUMBING DOWN: For years, British composer Harrison Birtwistle lived as a recluse on a remote French hillside. Now, at 66, he's moved back to Britain, with some strong ideas about English culture. "I believe we have in this country the best musicians in the world, but we don't have the best orchestras because we don't give them the money to rehearse. It's spread too thin. So second-rate becomes good enough, and we don't know the difference any more." The Telegraph (London) 10/14/00

HOW TO SELL A NEW OPERA: "The puzzle of how to produce a new opera that will not tank at the box office, and that may even last as long as a Volvo (to borrow a phrase from Leonard Cohen), has become a minor fixation of opera companies all over North America, including the San Francisco Opera, which on Saturday raised the curtain on an adaptation of 'Dead Man Walking'. In many ways, the opera is a textbook example of current received wisdom on how to introduce new work into the deeply conservative opera world." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 10/10/00

CLASSICAL EROSION: Following a trend around America, Washington DC public radio classical music station WETA pares down its broadcasts of classical music. Is it true that "public radio listeners have demanded more news; that folks driving home at night want news and not music, certainly not classical music; and that classical music listeners aren't the best pledge donors?" Washington Post 10/03/00

NEW DAY FOR OPERA: "The very fact that America's two largest opera companies, the Metropolitan Opera and Lyric Opera, are trading productions of untested works by American composers, signifies that the move toward multiple productions has turned into a promising trend. It also suggests that opera directors and audiences are taking new American works a lot more seriously than they once did." Chicago Tribune 10/01/00

A SHADOW OF ITSELF: BMG Classical was once a giant in the classical music recording business. But a major reorganization will gut the label - where it once produced hundreds of new recordings a year and boasted a roster of the biggest stars, it now focuses on its archives, and will drop most of its recognizable performers. Washington Post 04/19/00

THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED: What killed the venerable BMG's classical music recording operations? "A run of pin-striped MBAs and former wine salesmen was put in charge of classics, only to depart before their signings cut a debut disc. On the rock side BMG flourished, winning a record 24 trophies at this year's Grammy awards. BMG has annual revenues of $16.4 billion and owns 200 labels, including Ariola, Arista and Windham Hill. Classics amount to less than four per cent of turnover. When the bottom line reddened amid a general classical downturn, the division was swatted by an executive fist, like a flea on a giant's hide. That is the way of the corporate world, and that is what is killing classical recording." The Telegraph (London) 04/26/00

CLASSICAL REBIRTH: Classical music has "entered the third Christian millennium more bewildered than most art forms, having long since lost its bearings. Yet the very anarchy of millennial mayhem may subtly assist its arrival at an epochal self-recognition. For the more diffuse society becomes, the more it reflects the eclectic state of musical creation." London Telegraph 01/05/00

"A MILKY TEA, HEAVILY SUGARED": That's one description of today's British classical music journalism. Shake-ups in the editorial leadership of the small world of British music magazines and the Grove Dictionary has put classical music journalism in an uproar, writes Norman Lebrecht. "The common weakness is that all these magazines rely primarily on record-label advertising, and most classical labels are in trouble."

BATTLE OF THE PYGMIES: In the wake of protests over what music gets to be listed on Britain's classical music sales charts, some are wondering: so what is classical music anyway? Who cares? The Guardian 03/14/00

BRUCH THIS: Yikes - for the fifth year in a row Max Bruch has won top spot on the UK's Classic FM poll of favorite composers. But then, what do you expect? "If you spoonfeed your audience a pappy diet of light classics and bite-sized chunks of larger works, all seasoned with the odd bit of cross-over, and then get them to vote for their favourites, the result is more or less a foregone conclusion. Pavlov couldn't have conditioned his salivating dogs any more effectively." The Guardian 04/26/00

CLASSICAL FRINGE: There's nothing particularly "classical" about Canada's Top Ten classical recordings bestseller list - Bocelli and Church and some crossover stuff. "So how many copies does a real classical album sell? On average, 300 in Canada. (And for reasons that remain obscure, 40-50% of those sales will be in the province of Quebec.) A few albums, of course, do much better than that - Heppner's Great Tenor Arias has almost gone gold. But BMG's 94-CD set of Rubinstein's complete recordings sold only 30 copies in Canada - which is not entirely surprising given the price tag of $1,500. National Post (Canada) 04/25/00

A MOMENT WITH THE MAESTRO: Daniel Barenboim has been hailed as a “phenomenon” since the age of 12, when his piano playing was compared to Mozart. Now just a few months from the 50th anniversary of his stage debut, the maestro reflects on his career and the sad demise of classical music’s audience. “It is beginning to look as endangered as the Siberian tiger. There is no music education now in the schools. The crossover business, and all the other trivialisations of classical music, is a result of this basically unhealthy state of affairs.” The Telegraph 04/20/00

A SHADOW OF ITSELF: BMG Classical was once a giant in the classical music recording business. But a major reorganization will gut the label - where it once produced hundreds of new recordings a year and boasted a roster of the biggest stars, it now focuses on its archives, and will drop most of its recognizable performers. Washington Post 04/19/00

CLASSICAL DEFENSE: BBC’s Head of Classical Music Peter Maniura defends the BBC against recent criticism that it’s gone soft on classical music programming. The Telegraph 05/26/00  

A MATTER OF ECONOMICS: "Where once the classical recording giants could allow themselves to fill a cultural need while making money, now they are only interested in making money - lots of money, and quickly. A new recording by 'N Sync sells 1.1 million copies in a single day, and the accountants wonder why a Kissin or Pierre Boulez cannot do the same. A successful classical recording will sell not much more than 10,000 to 20,000 copies, unimpressive by the inflated standards of the pop music market." Chicago Tribune 05/18/00

THE CLASSICAL MUSIC COUNTERCULTURE: With major labels abandoning the classical music genre and alternative purchasing outlets such as the internet on the rise, a new counterculture of buyers of classical music recordings is growing. Philadelphia Inquirer 06/18/00

ALTERNATIVE SOURCES: As doom-sayers worry over the end of classical music recording, new ways of getting orchestra recordings to consumers pop up. Boston Herald 06/15/00 

CURSED CROSSOVER: The classical music world has sunk so low that it's pandering to whatever gimmicks it thinks will sell recordings. Pavarotti is bad enough, but when the Berlin Philharmonic defaces itself... The Telegraph (London) 06/14/00 

BRAHMS AND THE PLAYMATE: Classical music recording companies may be dumping the big established stars, but they have room for Linda Brava, a Playboy Playmate and moderately talented violinist. She's being promoted by EMI Classics, no less. "Recording companies are no longer satisfied with a decent return on an investment that may take several years to realize. They want profits, they want them big, they want them now." Philadelphia Inquirer 06/06/00

CROSSING OVER OR SELLING OUT? Crossover recordings, once a low-risk, easy-profit cash cow that the big classical companies employed to subsidize more serious and expensive recording projects, have become a primary lifeline for those firms now that sales of classical recordings have flattened. But as the stakes grow higher and the new releases pile up, the debate about crossover flares anew. Is it a healthy means of bridging the gap between the classical and non-classical public? Or a crass ploy to kick new life into a sagging market? Chicago Tribune 08/27/00





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