Over at Slipped Disc, Norman Lebrecht has been taking a poll over the last few days about which composers who are alive today will be played fifty years from now. In essence, he's asking about repertory formation and about our powers of prediction. It'd be nice if he'd focus on particular genres. Do we mean composers of big orchestral works? of opera, which has special challenges? composers who focus on chamber music or choral music?
It might be interesting to look at which composers were alive fifty years ago who are still played today. Let's start with the biggest gun of all, Igor Stravinsky. Alive in 1959? Check. Still being played today? Boy howdy. Dmitri Shostakovich? Alive in 1959, played all over today, Shostakovich might be the most recent composer to enter what I'd call the standard repertory.
How about Benjamin Britten? Yep. Ralph Vaughan Williams? Ooops, died in '57. Aaron Copland? Still played today. Leonard Bernstein? Oh, yeah. Pierre Boulez? Yep, people are still playing him. He's one of the old guard of Modernism now. Elliott Carter? Still alive and still composing at nearly 101. I'm willing to bet that string quartets looking for depth and challenge will be playing Carter fifty years from now, too.
Can anyone come up with a nice list of composers who were played 50 years ago and are not played today? Mr. Soho, this seems up your alley.