THE 19TH CENTURY BE SHOCKED WE CLING TO IT?
for posing this question in the context of a such a balanced
report. The successes clearly reveal instances where programers
are attempting to respond to a contemporary moment.
classical music business is only slowly becoming aware of
the time warp that it constructed for itself by so heavily
investing in the past both financially and in terms of sacralization.
Music is not dead and never will people. Neither will the
human spirit stop responding to music.
will take some time and we will see more fall out, but what
emerges anew will be something relevant to our time. The 19th
century gave us many beautiful gifts, but those who created
them would be shocked to see us clinging to them in a way
that denies the present.
nice success is that of the Chamber Music Society if Lincoln
Center's Great Day in New York Festival done in collaboration
with Merkin Concert Hall. No one dreamed such large audience
would turn out for concerts of music by living composers.
DYING, MAYBE CRYSTALLIZING INSTEAD
Colin Eatock, Toronto
was interesting to read how much evidence could be brought
to bear on both sides of this question.
perhaps this seeming ambivalence in classical music's health
can be traced to the word "dying" itself. The analogous comparison
to death conjures up the image of a once-animate organism
rotting away, its spirit extinguished or departed from this
world. It's not, perhaps, best analogy to use.
I don't think classical music is dying, I think it is "crystallizing":
becoming a fixed and unchanging cultural phenomenon. (This
seems to be true in North America, where I live and write
about music. I cannot speak for Europe.)
crystal lacks flexibility or fluidity, but it is nonetheless
a very durable thing. So while the Metropolitan Opera (for
example) mounts few new works, and those that are mounted
consistently fail to find a place in the standard repertoire,
the Met will probably always be there, cranking out 'Rigolettos'
and 'Carmens'. Indeed, that institution has so much money
in its endowment fund that it could live forever on bank interest
alone, without having to bother about selling tickets.
the concert halls and opera houses of the North America, the
standard repertoire has become sacred and impenetrable. New
works receive, at best, a brief, hollow, succes d'estime -
often in ghettoizing "festivals" - before they are forgotten.
It seems that society still values classical music, but as
an historical phenomenon in which the new no longer has a
IS THE GREEDY SYSTEM
a journalist and music critic from Geneva, Switzerland. I've
read with interest your "Arts Watch" about classical music.
My conclusion is that the old fashioned way to promote or
sell classical music isn't adapted to today's fast moving
an orchestra, a record label, a festival or a radio channel
tries to innovate, the success comes fast and steady. The
New York Phil sells more CDs than ever thanks to its own label,
broadcasts over the Net attract big crowds of listeners, open-minded
festivals are easily sold-out, etc.
problem is: the "old" industry thinks that the only way to
bring people to classical music is to dumb down the quality,
or to maintain an artificial, stupid and costly star system.
The "crisis of classical music" is the crisis of a greedy
system established a long time ago, fighting for its survival.
Hopefully, a lot of good things might (and will) come out
from this crisis. Keep up the good work!