Author Topic: The death of classical music  (Read 38723 times)

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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The death of classical music
« on: June 01, 2007, 06:09:15 AM »
Today I happened to pick up The Independent (one of the major daily newspapers in the UK, for those of you who are not British), as it promised a "15 Page Independent Music Magazine". There was not a single mention of anything pertaining to classical music on any of those 15 pages, further indication of the marginalisation of classical music in this country. I then turned to the charts section in the Arts and Books supplement, and saw that amongst the best selling books, pop singles and albums charts, there was a top selling classical records chart. This made salutary reading. The top 4 albums were all by Katherine Jenkins, a glamorous mezzo soprano, with a mediocre voice, who has never stepped on an operatic stage in her life. The only two albums that had any genuine classical connections were a 3 Tenors Compendium (The Essential...) and  a budget priced Pavarotti collection issued by Hallmark.
And yet, when I worked for the LSO, concert attendances were generally pretty high. Even with the high price of tickets, it is often very difficult to book for the likes of the Royal Opera House and the English National Opera; and a look at the magazine racks in Borders, or some such store, will confirm that there are more magazines devoted to classical music than ever before. The audience is still there. So why is is that we classical music lovers are continually ignored by the regular press? Is it, as Peter Maxwell Davies recently maintained, a reflection of the philistinism of our current prime minister and government?
Sir Peter Hall once declared that the Arts were only popular in opposition. How true! I'd be interested in other people's views.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

dtwilbanks

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2007, 06:11:38 AM »
No one's interested in classical music anymore. Those people at the concerts you mention were getting out of the London rain.  ;D

karlhenning

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2007, 06:13:55 AM »
. . . I'd be interested in other people's views.

I find The Essential 3 Tenors a delicious oxymoron  8)

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2007, 06:17:55 AM »
I find The Essential 3 Tenors a delicious oxymoron  8)

Well at least at one time it refered to 3 real singers, Nowadays it would no doubt mean Russell Watson, Andrea Bocelli and Alfie Boe (is that the right name?), though I may be doing the latter a disservice as I haven't heard him yet.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline 71 dB

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2007, 06:19:18 AM »
'Yellow' newspapers are about superficial phenomena, not intellectual or deep things. Just ignore the newspaper like it ignores classical music.
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Offline Novi

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2007, 07:01:57 AM »
The Observer's monthly Music magazine which never has much to say about classical had quite a substantial piece on contemporary music in the last issue:

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/omm/story/0,,2080694,00.html

I know practically nothing of this repertoire but have to say that I'm not quite sure of the line it takes: classical music is cool cos Ades likes progressive house and goes clubbing?

As far as classical in the press is concerned:

Perhaps it's because it's such a broad field that aside from the odd article on the 'big names' - you know the ones, it's the Shostakovich centenary so let's talk about him kind of thing - specific and detailed discussions are better found in more specialised publications. And then there are those articles such as the 'Angela Gheorghiu skipped a rehearsal to go shopping' or 'Isn't Netrebko really beautiful but she's a serious artist though' ones  ;).

Actually, sometimes I see the press as an extension of the record industry. You often only get features on bands or artists when they are about to release a new album anyway and boybands are always going to be more aggressively promoted than the LSO. 

But given that we're maintaining concert attendance levels, I'm not too fussed :).
Durch alle Töne tönet
Im bunten Erdentraum
Ein leiser Ton gezogen
Für den der heimlich lauschet.

karlhenning

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2007, 07:11:06 AM »
. . . not quite sure of the line it takes: classical music is cool cos Ades likes progressive house and goes clubbing?

Hey, whatever it takes . . . .

As far as classical in the press is concerned:

Quote
'Angela Gheorghiu skipped a rehearsal to go shopping'

I'm clearly in the minor leagues, since it's more like "The T was backed up on the Red Line, so the the violist called in to say he'd be late"  8)

Offline techniquest

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2007, 08:52:26 AM »
Quote
So why is is that we classical music lovers are continually ignored by the regular press? Is it, as Peter Maxwell Davies recently maintained, a reflection of the philistinism of our current prime minister and government?
I think the answer lies in the long-term dumbing down of the masses in the UK. Whatever way you look at it, classical music isn't 'cool' and demands a certain level of - something...(intelligence? appreciation? emotion? sense of adventure?) that has been eroded over the last 30-odd years. Concert attendances may be high, but it takes a lot more than a hall full of people in terms of CD sales to make any dent on mass interest.
I remember when Classic FM first started broadcasting how some rare and contemporary works were suddenly thrust into the limelight (for example Gorecki Symphony No.3 and Gavin Bryars' ''Jesus' Blood'') and became chart-toppers which looked as though it was going to be a great thing, but a year later the 'best of's started appearing and all but the old favourites started to disappear in favour of compilation albums.
The Proms starts soon, and in a few months time the Last Night will also bring the 'Proms in the Park' simultaneous concerts (a topic in itself methinks), and there will be the flag-waving singalong crowds a la football terrace (since that imge is waaaayy cool), but how many of those will be prepared to go out and buy a Langgaard CD?  :P

greg

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2007, 11:06:20 AM »
I think the answer lies in the long-term dumbing down of the masses in the UK. Whatever way you look at it, classical music isn't 'cool' and demands a certain level of - something...(intelligence? appreciation? emotion? sense of adventure?) that has been eroded over the last 30-odd years.
and around the world......

I think it's more the dumbing down of adventure. Intelligence I'm not so sure, since I'm not any smarter than the next guy. Emotion, hmmm.... that one's tough, since classical ranges from non-emotion to the most emotionally intense music on the planet (Mahler and Pettersson).

i like the one Simpons episode where they build a symphony hall and those two guys from the bar decide it's over after the first few notes of Beethoven's 5th were played. They're like, "the rest is filler- we got the beginning on our cell phones anyways, it sounds better that way." Classical does take "practice", like stretching out your attention span for awhile, but who listens to classical anyways? Is it really worth spending money on no one you knows listens to? How are you going to discuss it with your friends?

Offline Catison

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2007, 11:40:46 AM »
There may be a less apocolyptic reason for the current top 10 featuring less than stellar pop performers.  The recorded repertoire has been expanding through the years so that now it is fairly easy to find good recordings of extremely esoteric composers and music.  The adjective 'classical' can be applied to a huge amount of music.  It may be that the amount of real classical being bought has stayed roughly the same, but the esoteric albums are getting a bigger portion of sales, just not any one esoteric album.  That creates a market in which it doesn't take much of the market share to be at the top, and you end up finding the mass appeal albums there.  The real classical customers can't find a single album to agree upon being the best, so they slipt beneath the radar.
-Brett

Offline edward

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2007, 12:26:12 PM »
I also suspect those charts don't include online sales figures, which are always going to be key in non-mainstream repertoire.

Classical music is probably one of the best examples of the much-vaunted 'long tail' that trendy opinion writers have been mentioning over the last couple of years: almost none of it is going to be a big seller meriting large stock, but if you're shipping to millions of potential consumers, the profit from slow but steady sales of tens of thousands of comparatively obscure CDs is surprisingly large.

I'm actually quite enthusiastic about the long-term future of the classical music business: there are some major structural issues involved but the internet is already huge in disseminating music that might otherwise have failed to find an audience.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

Offline Bonehelm

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2007, 12:46:34 PM »
Ever heard of Gramophone? There are classical music specific magazines out there...

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2007, 01:21:40 PM »
Ever heard of Gramophone? There are classical music specific magazines out there...

As I intimated in my original post, though I didn't specifically name Gramophone.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Catison

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2007, 01:33:32 PM »
Classical music is probably one of the best examples of the much-vaunted 'long tail' that trendy opinion writers have been mentioning over the last couple of years: almost none of it is going to be a big seller meriting large stock, but if you're shipping to millions of potential consumers, the profit from slow but steady sales of tens of thousands of comparatively obscure CDs is surprisingly large.

I was definitely alluding to long-tail economics, but I really hate buzz words so I chose not to say anything explicitly.  This really is an amazing time for things like classical music recordings.  The industry was practically made for the internet.
-Brett

mahlertitan

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2007, 01:36:34 PM »
the problem lies within the business aspect of classical music, the classical community around the world is doing a very poor job at marketing the music to people.

Offline Catison

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2007, 02:15:24 PM »
How so?
-Brett

Offline 71 dB

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #16 on: June 01, 2007, 02:37:27 PM »
I am active on a Finnish hometheater forum. Only a few members on that forum admit listening to classical music sometimes. I started there a thread "Why don't you listen to classical music?" Many answered simply they think classical music is elitistic and it sucks. They want to listen to metal. On the same forum we have a thread for new CD purchases. People buy Napalm Death, Dream Theater, Ozzy Osbourne, Sepultura, System of a Down, Megadeth, Metallica, Eagles, ZZ Top, Deep Purple, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Prince, Guns N Roses, Anthrax, etc.

Some of the members mock me for listening to classical music and being elitistic. The truth is good music is rarely popular. The best club music isn't that popular, quality pop isn't often popular. Classical music isn't popular. We have to accept that and enjoy the music!

 :)
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page

mahlertitan

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #17 on: June 01, 2007, 03:36:22 PM »
How so?

i've never seen a commercial about classical concerts on the TV, never.

Offline Catison

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #18 on: June 01, 2007, 03:49:01 PM »
i've never seen a commercial about classical concerts on the TV, never.

Of course, there are other methods of advertisement than TV.  I don't know if it would even be a good idea to put commericials for concerts on TV.  The expense of television advertisement is high, and considering the average TV viewing audience, the returns are probably very low.
-Brett

Larry Rinkel

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Re: The death of classical music
« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2007, 05:17:57 PM »
I am active on a Finnish hometheater forum. Only a few members on that forum admit listening to classical music sometimes. I started there a thread "Why don't you listen to classical music?" Many answered simply they think classical music is elitistic and it sucks. They want to listen to metal. On the same forum we have a thread for new CD purchases. People buy Napalm Death, Dream Theater, Ozzy Osbourne, Sepultura, System of a Down, Megadeth, Metallica, Eagles, ZZ Top, Deep Purple, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Prince, Guns N Roses, Anthrax, etc.

Some of the members mock me for listening to classical music and being elitistic. The truth is good music is rarely popular. The best club music isn't that popular, quality pop isn't often popular. Classical music isn't popular. We have to accept that and enjoy the music!

 :)

I assume your forum is in Finnish, but by any chance if it is in a language I can read  :D, could you direct me to it? I'm really interested in hearing what "non-classical" people have to say about classical music, in their own words as much as possible. Kiitos.