Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Dead, Dead, Dead

Classical music is so dead that 400 people were estimated to be present for a 5 a.m. performance of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians at the Bang on a Can Festival.

Okay, New York is a big place - but at the moment it's also got 50 new music ensembles where 40 years ago it had just a few.

So, I want to know what, exactly, would constitute "the death of classical music"? No performances of popular standard repertory works? The collapse of big musical institutions, the ones on the scale of the BSO, SFS, Metropolitan Opera? The disappearance of smaller groups, such as the multitude of string quartets? The failure of Maurizio Pollini to fill Carnegie Hall? No new music from prominent composers, and not because they've died themselves?

And when does anyone think classical music will die? Not this year, certainly. In five years? Ten? Fifty? After we're all dead, so we won't know one way or the other?


Michael Walsh said...

Folk music is supposed to be dead, too, and I still see plenty of those CDs in the stores.

Classical music still has a devoted following, and retains a surprising number of listeners who are exposed to it. Since it's not taught in our schools and concerts are way expensive, we stay alive through small touring groups and on the internet. I've seen classical sites on MySpace, so it can't be total fantasy to adapt to our new surroundings.

I don't think classical music will die any time, but we will have to get used to being an underground movement, at least in this hemisphere.

Ben Clapton said...

There is one sign that will prove that classical music is dead - President George Bush conducting an orchestra... oh... wait...

Scott Spiegelberg said...

Classical music is dead, long live classical music! Maybe that's it, those who complain about the music dying are just disturbed by the transformations that are happening.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Bush, hahahaha.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, and Ben, I've got a link to your blog in my sidebar now.