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Thread: "A case for classical music - old & new"

  1. #1
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    "A case for classical music - old & new"

    I'm not sure if this has already been posted here before, but I thought you might be interested in this and I'd like to hear your thoughts...

    This is a link to a speech made by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies at the ISM Annual Conference on Tuesday 10 April. I can't post it here because they allow no unauthorised reproduction....plus it's absolutely huge! Saying that, I recommend everyone here reads it!

    The speech

    He discusses what he calls the "absolute ignorance in our musical culture" and gets quite vitriolic in his regard for modern music. Does anyone else share his bleak vision for the future of classical music?
    www.artswom.co.uk - blogging about art, music, film, theatre and....Donkey Kong

  2. #2
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso rojo's Avatar
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    Whoa, that is a long article. But very interesting. I`ll have to finish it later.

    I can only reiterate that I believe there will always be people like us who love classical music. Hopefully it will continue to thrive, or at least survive. I obviously think it should be an important part of every school`s curriculum, and every person should have at least a few music lessons. Everyone should at least have a few samples of classical music. My life would be so poor without my lifelong and still developing appreciation of classical music. I`m surely not alone; this place proves it.
    ''Music, I feel, should be emotional first and intellectual second.'' - Maurice Ravel
    ''The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work.'' - Michael Jackson


  3. #3
    Commodore de Cavaille-Coll
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    Hello Dear MIMFers,

    Just a short comment as to the linked speech. I believe in my heart that it will remain very bleak for Classical Music as long as we who love to listen to Classical and we who perform and listen to Classical just sit on our duff and whine about how bad everything is. Time to roll up the armsleeves and get busy - network with your friends who are performing musicians and those who are ardent supporters of Classical music. Together we can make a difference. Remember, united we stand - divided we fall.

    Regards!

    Giovanni

  4. #4
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso rojo's Avatar
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    John Adams has an interesting take on the future of classical music-

    'He dismisses talk of the so-called "death of classical music" as pretty meaningless. "The world is full of people with creative ideas," says Adams. "We could, to make things simpler, just forget about the term 'classical.' That might make things easier. But I still like to use it, because it reminds me that what I do aims at having a very long shelf-life."'

    Full article on John Adams here-

    http://www.americancomposers.org/ada...elena_park.htm

    (I wonder if people will still be taking his music off the shelf for a listen in say, a hundred years. Who knows...)
    ''Music, I feel, should be emotional first and intellectual second.'' - Maurice Ravel
    ''The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work.'' - Michael Jackson


  5. #5
    Commander, Assistant Conductor zlya's Avatar
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    Why do we need to roll up our sleeves and do anything? Some people like classical music, some people don't. Seems to me that's entirely up to them. I like classical music, but I don't think there's going to be any shortage of performances or recordings any time soon. I don't see why we should concern ourselves with what sort of music other people listen to. Sure, it's their loss that they don't get to enjoy it, but I'm sure my brother thinks that it's my loss that I don't love gangsta rap.

    Is the problem the perceived lack of decent composers today? Well, I don't know that we've got any living Mozarts, but I think there are many modern composers doing new and creative things, even if they don't always fit into a traditional conception of music. So fewer people listen to modern art music than, say, pop music. So what? The composers aren't going to stop composing it, the performers aren't going to stop performing it. I just don't see the problem.

  6. #6
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso rojo's Avatar
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    Yes, but...

    I think the thing is that fewer and fewer people are getting the chance to be exposed to classical music these days. Schools are cutting music programs, recordings are fewer, orchestras are folding due to lack of funds, etc.

    We delve more deeply into this topic here, if you`ve got the time for a good read.

    http://www.magle.dk/music-forums/269...ic-headed.html
    ''Music, I feel, should be emotional first and intellectual second.'' - Maurice Ravel
    ''The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work.'' - Michael Jackson


  7. #7
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso rojo's Avatar
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    Hmm, looks like there may be some hope for the classical music recording industry as mentioned here-

    http://entertainment.timesonline.co....cle1710177.ece
    ''Music, I feel, should be emotional first and intellectual second.'' - Maurice Ravel
    ''The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work.'' - Michael Jackson


  8. #8
    Commodore con Forza Andrew Roussak's Avatar
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    I once heard an interview with a scholar of Stockhausen on the radio ( can't remember his name, it's terrible ) - his idea was approximately the same. The serious music of today is smth. like an exotic animal, sitting in a dark corner and being time after time presented to a broad public. About 90% of the total air time is given to Unterhaltungsmusik ( entertaining music ), the rest got the classic and the part of this rest is given to a contemporary classical music ( die moderne ernste Musik ),whereas the situation in the past ( in the times from , say, Mozart to Shostakovich was totally different.

    If it was not radio and I could argue, I would maybe notice that in the times of Mozart and Beethoven almost everybody was able to apprehend this music without having first to graduate the high music school for it. How many non-musicians would listen to Cage or Stockhausen???

    What do you mean about it - did Mozart think he composed a serious ( classical ) music or his contemporary? Would Mendelsohn use a PC if he lived now? If a composer who writes the film stuff uses not only a symphonic orchestra but a synthesizer as well - is it still classical music? And what if he would use an electric guitar and a Marshall amp for the same stuff ?

    Then, JSBach had composed, say, Goldberg Variations for a clavicembalo. As the clavicembalo died, the Variations were normally played on a newly invented instrument known as piano. This music was nevertheless regarded as classical. Nowadays, if you hear the same pieces played on a synth - would you say it is entertaining music???

    One more example - Pictures from Exhibition - the cycle was composed by Musorgsky as a piano work . After a little while , it was orchestrated by Ravel and became worldwide famous. After a couple of years from then, it was played by ELP ( keys - bass - drums ). Is it still a classical music or the entertaining , just because of the fact it was played by a rock band?

  9. #9
    Commander, Assistant Conductor zlya's Avatar
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    I don't think the distinction between art music and entertainment music has anything to do with the instruments used. However, when the rock band plays Mussorgsky, do they intend it as art music or entertainment? Their performance of it may be pop music, while a performance on sitar, theremin and synthesizer may be intended for aesthetic purposes and therefore be art music.

    Did Mozart write music for the masses? He was a court musician. He wrote primarily for the aristocracy, who would have had musical training. Classical composers wrote for an educated audience. Haydn's little jokes and surprises would not be surprising to a listener who did not know what to expect. Do fewer people listen to art music now than did in the 18th Century? I'm not sure. Now we have radio and recordings and low price public concerts which many people can afford. How many 18th C peasants had access to all of that?
    So now we find that the masses today prefer pop music, just like the masses in the past may have preferred their slapstick comic operettas to serious operas.

    I'm not saying that art music is better than entertainment music, or that people who listen to art music are better than people who listen to music for entertainment. I'm not even saying that art music isn't entertaining or that pop music isn't artistic. I am saying that now as in the past not everyone appreciates art music, whether because of lack of musical training or difference in preference. The separation between art and pop music is not new.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by zlya View Post
    I don't think the distinction between art music and entertainment music has anything to do with the instruments used. However, when the rock band plays Mussorgsky, do they intend it as art music or entertainment? Their performance of it may be pop music, while a performance on sitar, theremin and synthesizer may be intended for aesthetic purposes and therefore be art music.

    Did Mozart write music for the masses? He was a court musician. He wrote primarily for the aristocracy, who would have had musical training. Classical composers wrote for an educated audience. Haydn's little jokes and surprises would not be surprising to a listener who did not know what to expect. Do fewer people listen to art music now than did in the 18th Century? I'm not sure. Now we have radio and recordings and low price public concerts which many people can afford. How many 18th C peasants had access to all of that?
    So now we find that the masses today prefer pop music, just like the masses in the past may have preferred their slapstick comic operettas to serious operas.

    I'm not saying that art music is better than entertainment music, or that people who listen to art music are better than people who listen to music for entertainment. I'm not even saying that art music isn't entertaining or that pop music isn't artistic. I am saying that now as in the past not everyone appreciates art music, whether because of lack of musical training or difference in preference. The separation between art and pop music is not new.
    I agree with your last statement, but in my opinion "art music" offers so much deeper exploration. Better is a subjective word, but with the necessary training, in my opinion classical music offers so much more to the listener than "less educated" (again subjective) forms of music.

    I know what it is to not understand classical music!!! But I have also learned to accept this as my own "lack of education," or experience with a certain style, genre, or composer of classical music. Rather than saying that I do not like it or even appreciate, I embrace it as something that I do not yet understand. Another world of harmony, dissonance, and rhythm, for me to exlpore and learn to love.

    The problem is that we fail to educate the youth about classical music at all. If a youth is not involved directly with a musical instrument or activity then it is almost 99 percent true that they will take up listening to classical music. Those that do may listen to the occasional pop piece and stray away from more serious pieces that take time and patience to listen to. The same is even true for those who take up instruments. Even though they may enjoy repertoire that they play they do not seriously seek or listen to classical music. Only very lightly. I find in general it is piano students, and strings students who seek and really enjoy classical music, with many exceptions however to this rule (it's a generalization about the youth.) The youth are bombarded with industry music and so much uninspired crap, produced by commercialized pop artists as stated in the article. Just because someone enjoys hardcore rap mor than they do classical music, does not mean that hardcore rap offers more enjoyment.

    It's difficult to argue because it makes enjoyment like an empirical numerical value. But I will argue that classical music offers more. More passion, more intellectualism, more humanity, more discovery. I enjoy pop music and fold tunes occasionaly, but I find (although I am not a valid source for pop music) less subtleties. The subtleties that allow for a piece to be explored listened to more than once. Most pop tunes I understand right off the bat with one listening. There is no depth. That is not to say there is no enjoyment. I love many songs by Queen, but I wouldn't take a queen song and dive into it like a Scriabin or Mahler symphony. This is the difference between the two. Queen offers is good very good, but classical music is a world. Every once and awhile I like to step out of the world of classical music and chill with some pop music but I find that most of my musical cravings can be satisfied by the broad range and styles of classical music pieces.

    So many points to be made but thats what I'm thinking of right now. Apologies if you found this biased and ignorant in terms of pop music and such, I'd be willing to listen to any arguments!

    Thanks for the article by the way, its really helped to articulate some of the ideas I have floating around in my head that I am still trying to articulate.

  11. #11
    Commodore con Forza Andrew Roussak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zlya View Post

    Did Mozart write music for the masses? He was a court musician. He wrote primarily for the aristocracy, who would have had musical training. Classical composers wrote for an educated audience. Haydn's little jokes and surprises would not be surprising to a listener who did not know what to expect. Do fewer people listen to art music now than did in the 18th Century? I'm not sure. Now we have radio and recordings and low price public concerts which many people can afford. How many 18th C peasants had access to all of that?
    Sure you are right about that ,Zlya, but my point was a little bit different. As the aristocracy had listened to Mozart, it listened actually to its contemporary composer. And as you listen to Mozart now, you do listen to the music which was composed app. 300 years before you were born. I once have read an interview with Vladimir Spivakov ( the violin virtuoso and the conductor and manager of the Moscow Virtuoses Orchestra .) One of his points was, that any orchestra of the world, if it only wants to be marketed, is compelled to play mostly, if not exclusively, the works of what may be generally called "classical period" - that is, from Bach to app. beginning of the 20 C. Even Shostakovich would be normally played as a "bonus", as the audience had already given the applause for the finished performance. And if you dare, for example , to include Penderecki in your main set, then you must be aware of running the risk performing for the half-empty concert hall. I have no doubt that there could be any living Mozarts beyond us - what are their chances to be heard? What are their chances to be recorded, and, at last - what music do you mostly listen to - the "classical" classic music or the contemporary classic?
    As I believe ( much to topic of using the modern instruments ) , nowadays the art composers do mostly shift to composing of the film music and to the related genres - new age, prog rock, jazz rock, pop music, as it is actually almost the only chance to be heard and marketed...

    Not sure it was relevant to the speech posted....

  12. #12
    Commander, Assistant Conductor zlya's Avatar
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    I completely agree, Andrew. I think if there is to be another Mozart, he will be in the film industry, not the art music field. Does this correspond to other modern arts? I suppose more people line up to see the Mona Lisa than Black no. 34.

    That having been said, I think I prefer listening to Mozart than most modern composers I've heard. I find it more rewarding and emotionally moving. Modern art music seems almost qualitatively different from "classical" music, as if its a completely different art form.

  13. #13
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    Many people are like-minded with you both from the lovers of classical music and lovers of modern music.
    me,too.

  14. #14
    Lieutenant, Associate Concertmaster
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    It is sort of funny how he talks about Communism as being bad, then he sounds like a Marxist!

    Good read though.

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