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New music and the wider culture

‘If you’re talking about “relevance to the wider culture” and “speaking to our times“, and all that Greg Sandowian stuff, I couldn’t possibly care less … People seem to forget that there’s always going an audience for whom Beethoven’s 5th or La Boheme is a brand new experience’ – writes Henry Holland today in Killing classical music in the US. Well worth the click, and my photo is of the audience queueing for core classical repertoire at the 2006 BBC Proms.


Comment from Alex Ross
Time: November 19, 2006, 7:04 pm

Nobody knows how to be miserably pessimistic in public like people who love classical music!

Comment from Alex Ross
Time: November 19, 2006, 9:06 pm

Mark Swed, LA Times, 10/1706: “Three years ago, when the Los Angeles Philharmonic moved its Green Umrella new music series from a smaller theater to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, I regretted the decision. Or course, the crowds would be large at first, but the venue felt too big and formal for new music. Amplification, often used in new music, was a big problem in the hall. Prices (a $45 top) seemed awfully high for new music. What would happen once Disney’s novelty had faded and the Philharmonic’s New Music Group put on, say, a challenging concert by out-of-the-way Australian composers? Tuesday night, we got to find out. Brett Dean, whose Viola Concerto was given a successful U.S. premiere by the Philharmonic last week, was handed over the opening program of the fourth Green Umbrella season in Disney. Along with his own work, he included something recent from Liza Lim, whose earlier “Ecstatic Architecture,” a Philharmonic commission for the orchestra’s first Disney season, was widely despised. Dean also brought in tow an unknown geeky young Melbourne composer, pianist and improviser, Anthony Pateras. So what did happen Tuesday? An astonishingly large crowd turned out. ‘By some margin,’ Dean (a violist in the Berlin Philharmonic for 15 years before moving back to Australia in 2000) said from the stage, ‘this is the largest new music audience I’ve ever played in front of.'”

So this is all a big mistake, and the LA Phil should stick to playing Beethoven symphonies for retirees? Aaaaargh.

Comment from Tom Myron
Time: November 19, 2006, 9:15 pm

I think that today we have our very own equivalent to the 40s era “Music Appreciation Racket” that Virgil T. wrote about so scathingly. It’s called the “Death of Classical Music Racket.” At this point people have whole careers invested in it.

Comment from Graham Rieper
Time: November 19, 2006, 10:42 pm

I notice that Mr. Holland is refered to as “irrepressible,” which in blogspeak means “tiresome reactionary twit.”

Comment from Bill
Time: November 22, 2006, 3:13 am

Aren’t classical CD sales something like 2% market share? Classical music isn’t dying, it’s dead !