Music or presentation?

(What follows will be explored in my book, in chapter VII, as the outline currently stands.)Yesterday I impulsively -- after a thoughtful e-mail from a friend -- raised a big question on Twitter: Key question for the future of classical music. Is the music itself a problem, or only the way we present it?Plus a followup: Two problems with the music. Too much of it comes from the past. And our performance style is more constricted than it used to be.So here we see the virtues and limitations of Twitter. I'd "mindcasted" a thought that a lot of … [Read more...]

Book title — and some thoughts from the book

Jeez.I blogged about my book on the future of classical music. And tweeted about it. And put an update on Facebook. And in all of that, I forgot to mention the title! It's Rebirth. Meaning -- of course -- that classical music won't die, but instead will be reborn. Or, more formally, the title might be Rebirth: The Future of Classical Music. From the mine of thoughts that will go into the book (this one goes in the very first chapter): I know the rebirth may be painful for people who like classical music in its traditional form. And I know that … [Read more...]

Trouble ahead?

(On my book outline, what follows would come in chapter three, Falling Behind: The Problem of Funding. Why money for classical music will be harder to raise.)I've been hearing from many people about trouble ahead on the financial side of classical music. In the background of this -- at least in my view; I'm not going to say that everyone I talk to shares it -- are some long-range troubles, as I'll explain in the funding chapter of my book. If the classical audience is shrinking, then money should be harder to raise, because the first people any … [Read more...]

First look at the book

The mountain -- the one where my book on the future of classical music has been hiding -- has cracked itself open. And out of the crack comes...a skeleton. A skeletal outline of what's going to be in the new, final version of the book. Previously, as many readers know, I improvised drafts of the book, in a kind of online performance. They're here. But this is the real deal. A real book. I'll be unfolding it in stages, in future months. Details to come. The new skeletal outline gives you some idea of the whole book -- what it's going to … [Read more...]

First nights out

Last week I went to my first concerts this season, all from the part of the music world I've been calling alternative classical. David Lang, one of the Bang on a Can composers (and Pulitzer prizewinner), with a program of films set to his compositions, at the Museum of Modern Art (all this in New York)...Nico Muhly, Doveman, and Sam Amidon at the Miller Theater...and Glenn Branca at Le Poisson Rouge.David's pieces were very severe, some of them, and the films equally so. Elevated was the longest. Relentless music, like bells tolling doom, that … [Read more...]

Forster music

(Lots of scanning involved in this post. Too much work! But a labor of love.)As I said in my last post, I went on an E.M. Forster binge this summer -- all the novels I hadn't read, plus his essays and short stories, and his terrific, quirky, completely honest book about the novel as an art form. And among other things -- the quiet way he turns a phrase, to say exactly what he means -- I found him wonderful on music. I've already talked about the famous passage from Howard's End about Beethoven's Fifth, in which people (all but one of them quite … [Read more...]

Renegade summer

Two summers ago was the summer of hedgehogs. Cute, messy, dumb little things, busy eating slugs and worms, with babies getting sick near our house in the Yorkshire Dales. And then nursed back to health, no charge, by the local vet. Full reminiscence here. But now we had the summer of renegade cows. Three of them, always the same three, would break out of their field, and come up our driveway. Here are two of them, peering into a French door that leads from our dining room to a small enclosed garden:They'd walk around, trample the grass and some … [Read more...]