Is classical music dying? No way — I think it’s going to be reborn, reconnect with the world around it, and become a truly contemporary art. But this is a big topic, and there’s resistance to the changes that are taking place.
A blog seems like a perfect way to discuss all this, in part because as I’ve found — teaching a course about the future of classical music, writing and speaking about it, and discussing it with many people in the field — anything we say spins off in 12 directions at once. So why not approach it all in little pieces, following thoughts wherever they lead?
If classical music did die, that would be a tragedy. We’d lose a large and deep part of our western heritage, along with the notion, almost forgotten among people who don’t know classical music, that a piece of music can change and grow over long spans of time, the way a movie does, or a novel, or a play.
But the changes coming to classical music may well be drastic. The mainstream classical audience will most likely shrink. And the old presumptions about classical music — that it’s the only serious music, that it has to be treated with reverence (and scholarship), and that old masterworks are more important than new compositions (which isn’t what many people say out loud, but is clearly how the business works — all that will change, leaving many people who love classical music in its traditional form exposed to a new, entirely different classical music world.
What will the changes be? I’ll explore that here.