The vital signs of classical music all tend in the wrong direction, says Joseph Horowitz. The conductors fly in and leave. The musicianship is superior but dull. The composer is long dead, and, on stage and off, people know little about him anyway. The shrinking audience only wants to hear the most pedigreed and canonical of music. The orchestra is not a tastemaker; it’s a follower. Marketing and fund-raising efforts predominate. The financials drive everything, and everything is expensive: the musicians, the guest soloists, the fly-by conductors, the tickets. Horowitz complains a lot, and one of his bigger, more enveloping criticisms is what brings him to the humanities.
“Doing what you do well is death. Your duty is to keep trying to do things that you don’t do well, in the hope of learning.”