Family appearance

In today’s New York Times, I’ve reviewed Joseph Horowitz’s big recent book, Classical Music in America. You can find the review here. The book is important, but none too successful. I’ll add some further thoughts in the next day or two.

This was a happy day in our household, because my wife Anne Midgette and I both had pieces in the Times. She’s there all the time, of course, but we were tickled to show up in the paper together. Her piece is quite important. “Decline in Listeners Worries Orchestras,” says the headline, and Anne did a terrific job exploring how that’s true, and especially how the decline hits summer festivals.

One of Anne’s best points:

An article in The Times of London last summer bemoaned this very fact: that festivals with all-star concerts play to full houses while local orchestras in England struggle to attract audiences. “Audiences are looking to the arts as sensation rather than sustenance,” Magnus Linklater wrote.

But this is hardly surprising, given the way the arts tend to be marketed. Classical music is positioned as something transcendent, sublime, with great artists and stars. That’s pretty heady stuff. And it’s understandable that someone who expects this kind of intensity from a classical concert may be perfectly content going only once or twice a year, rather than making a steady diet of such rich fare.

No, we don’t coordinate our views of these things. We often agree (not always), but we tend to put things very differently, and I learn a lot from Anne.

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