Measuring the crisis

(In which, as promised, I start from the top, measuring the subject of my blog…) Lots of us say that classical music is in crisis. But what exactly do we mean? Well, we might start with what I might call the commercial problem, or, more simply, the objective, measurable side of what's either a crisis now, or soon might be one: Many people worry that classical music will simply disappear. There won't be any audience to sustain it. The current audience, average age at least 50, will grow old, fade away, and never be replaced. Orchestras will … [Read more...]

Dangerous territory

  Not long ago I was having dinner with some reasonably substantial people in the orchestra world. And as often happens when people inside the business get to know me, the conversation turned to critics. Why, I’m regularly asked, do critics…and here we can fill in the blank with whatever odd behavior some critic recently exhibited. (Though the question people really want to ask is a lot simpler, and eventually they get around to it: Why don’t critics know how the music business works?)   This time, though, my dinner partners wanted … [Read more...]

Not so commercial

This weekend a press release came in the mail, announcing what it called the "first commercial recording" of Carlisle Floyd's opera Of Mice and Men, recorded by the Houston Grand Opera on the Albany label. But this isn't a commercial recording, or at least it's not what most people commonly mean by commercial. Nobody invested huge sums of money in it, hoping to make a profit. Instead, this recording -- like many classical records today -- was subsidized. The fine print at the end of the press release says: This recording is made possible … [Read more...]

Dead weight

Another reader, Jason Stewart, contributes some provocative thoughts (along with a compliment to me, for which I'm grateful): Saving The key to saving classical music is to let go of all the dead weight in that genre. There are so many hour-long classical "masterpieces" out there that don't have any more to say than a three minute pop song. People are bombarded by these musical barbiturates on the classical station, and the truly great works are being passed over because of the "guilt by association" factor. If we make it so that the virgin … [Read more...]

Breaking news

From reader Lang Thompson I've just heard some striking news -- that Columbia House (one of the two big record clubs) has stopped selling classical music. Here's what Lang wrote me: A little over a month ago I went to place an order for some items that included classical and those weren't there. In fact the whole classical section was no longer listed. I emailed Columbia House and after a few days they replied that since they can't provide the "level of customer service" that they would like then they've discontinued all the … [Read more...]

Renée footnote

Happy new year, everyone. Next week I'll start my systematic look at classical music's problems, with the first post coming a week from today, Monday, January 12. This week I'll gather up some odds and ends, things I've been thinking about for a while, but haven't posted. I'll start with a Renée Fleming footnote. Just before Christmas I said she should have given the profits from her holiday promotion to charity (see my last post). But here's some clarification. Of course she doesn't have to do it. That's her choice. But wouldn't it have been … [Read more...]