Why I cried

great caruso blog

I cried last weekend, when I watched The Great Caruso, the Hollywood film about Enrico Caruso's life, released in 1951, and starring Mario Lanza. I cried — spoiler alert — because of how unfettered Italian opera was when the film was made, and also for deeper reasons I'll get to, reasons that help explain why I do the work I do. But about the movie. It might be easy to dismiss, if you haven't seen it (or for some people, sadly, even if they have) as Hollywood fakery, sentimental and factually wrong. Caruso didn't die onstage (as he's shown … [Read more...]

Red herring

red herring blog

I blogged a month ago about an outburst of crisis denial — two highly emotional attacks on the idea that classical music faces a serious crisis. I commented only on the emotion, thinking that later I might rebut the arguments. But I lost interest in that. Seems like a distraction from what I think ought to be our main job, which is finding ways out of the crisis, a collaborative job that's spontaneously being taken up by people all over the western world. (Maybe Asia, too, though I know less about that.)  As someone who runs an iconic … [Read more...]

Hidden history

applauding

"A Young and Lively Audience: The Hidden History of Classical Music." That was the title of a talk I gave last week at the Doctoral Forum, a lecture series at Juilliard. The talk is now online, and you can listen to it. The title was meant to be provocative, of course. I talked about two things: how young the classical music audience was in past generations, and how lively the audience was in past centuries, reacting audibly while they listened, and applauding the moment they heard anything they liked. (Go here for a page on my blog site … [Read more...]

Crossing over

go go blog

There's a lot of buzz in classical music these days about community — reaching out, if you're a performing group, to the community you're in, involving the community in what you do. There are endless examples. The Cincinnati Symphony has been doing "One City, One Symphony" events, involving  a gala performance of a piece (they started with Beethoven's Ninth), and listening parties around the city, all built around the theme of "our common humanity." (The link goes to a Huffington Post piece about the project, since, incredibly, the orchestra … [Read more...]

From Caroline Gilbert: Reaching the creative class

CarolinePhoto

From Greg: This comes from one of my Juilliard students, taking my course on the future of classical music. I asked her to write something about one piece of reaching we'd done, an excerpt from Richard Florida's book The Rise of the Creative Class. I assign this in a class session called "Classical Music and the Rest of Our Culture," and it's about what nightlife is like for youngish creative people (who might be artists, designers, tech people, entrepreneurs, filmmakers, you name it). Florida defines these people as "the creative class," … [Read more...]

Teaching

stavreva blog

My Juilliard course on the future of classical music is well under way, with a terrific group of students. Including four violists, which makes me wish we were giving a concert. Thirsting to hear music — maybe write music!  —for viola quartet. Such a sumptuous sound. I've offered to teach a shorter version of this course online, if enough people are interested. And we're almost there! Contact me if you'd like to join in. You can see what the Juilliard version of the course is about with these two links, to the course overview and to … [Read more...]

From Liza Figueroa Kravinsky: Living up to the hype

930-Club-Flyer blog

[From Greg: Full disclosure. I got to know Liza when she hired me as a consultant. But we worked only on a very modest plan to launch her project, a plan that turned out not to be needed. Maybe I encouraged her in some helpful way, but the stunning success she's been having comes from things she did entirely on her own. Go, Liza!]  In a series of  guest blogs, I've talked about my Go-Go Symphony,  a composition that combines original classical music with the go-go beat, Washington DC's iconic dance rhythm.  In my first post, I described how … [Read more...]

High Anxiety

anger blog

Emotions are running high. That's what I thought when I read the reactions of two writers I know, to the piece in Slate that I commented on here, at the end of last month. This was the piece that exaggerated classical music's troubles, with a title, graphic, and perky one-liners, all of which said that classical music wasn't just troubled, but was actually dead. You can read my reaction to see my own view, which is that classical music is plainly not dead, and that we need to be far more precise in talking about what its problems really … [Read more...]

From Lara Downes: Billie Holiday and me

BILLIEgardenia1

Saturday mornings, when I was a kid, were spent at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, with a rigorous schedule of what we called “Saturday Classes”: theory, solfege, sight reading, music history, chamber music, composition, and more. This regimen started shortly after I started piano lessons at 4, and by the time I was 7 those classes had prepared me to write an opera based on Charlotte’s Web, which got its first and only performance that year at the conservatory. And which was, by the way, the pinnacle of my career as a … [Read more...]

From John Steinmetz: A life-changer

comeagain

  From Greg:  John Steinmetz is one of several people I've gotten close to after meeting them online, because (apart from liking each other) we share an interest in the future of classical music. He's a bassoonist, composer, thinker, and (I think this is right) a musical activist, based in Los Angeles.  More than a year ago, I invited him to blog here, and though he was happy to do it, life took him down other paths. But I've now learned once again that all things come  to those who wait, because now John has a post about something he … [Read more...]

Don’t say it’s dead

slate dead NO blog

There's been a lot of fuss online about a piece that showed up on Slate, about the death of classical music. Well, maybe it meant to be about the decline of classical music, and certainly included a strong array of facts and figures, more than I've usually seen in writing on this subject, no matter what point of view the writer take. But because the headline on the piece was "Requiem: Classical Music in America Is Dead"…because of the graphic I've reproduced here, which led off the piece (and which I've crossed out, because I disagree with … [Read more...]

Commenting problem

This is from Greg's assistant, Caroline Firman. We believe that there may be a problem with the comments on Greg's blog and we are actively working to get to the bottom of the issue. We apologize to anyone who may have commented over the last several days and has not seen their comments appear. We will post again when the problem has been fixed, but for now, please hold off on leaving any comments. Thanks for your patience and happy Friday! … [Read more...]

The moral of the story

yesno blog

The moral, that is, of my critique of the Chicago Symphony's "Sounds and Stories" online magazine. It so badly disappointed me. Great idea, for an orchestra to provide the kind of classical music coverage we don't find these days in the media. But why make it so deadly dull? So drastically out of touch with the kind of lively media people find everywhere else? I was being interviewed by a British journalist about "Sounds and Stories." That's how I happened to look at the site, though I'm sure I would have looked at it on my own, sooner or … [Read more...]

Such a disappointment

CSO_Sounds___Stories blog

A British journalist wanted to interview me about the Chicago Symphony's  new "Sounds and Stories" online multimedia magazine. So of course I looked at it. And I was so very sadly disappointed. What a good idea, I thought, to launch an online magazine, so people interested in the CSO or in classical music can read things they'd never get in standard media, where classical music is covered less and less. From the moment I got the CSO's press release about this, I was cheering for them. But what they've done, I'm so very sorry to say, is … [Read more...]