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Thread: Commerce and Culture

  1. #1
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    Commerce and Culture

    Hello!

    I am new to this forum, and this is my first topic/post. I have been reading the forum for a little while now, and I've come to notice some anti-free market comments regarding classical music. Many classical music fans (I myself once believed this too), think that classical music cannot survive in the market, and therefore must be subsidized and protected by the government. Before I carry on with my comment, I will post the link of a video.

    http://video.google.ca/videoplay?doc...arch&plindex=1

    Now in this video, the lecturer presents the case that classical music not only does well in a free market, but in fact classical music benefited historically from the free market. He also tackles the notion that there ought to a national art system (such as my country Canada). However, if we look in history, the places that have done well in artistic achievements have been the places with decentralized art institutions. Vivaldi in the Italian city states. Bach in the German principalities. Mozart and Beethoven throughout the German speaking Europe. Whereas places like France, which nationalized the art system have had less success. Competition is healthy in the market place, and it's healthy in culture. Just because a country draws a line and says, this is country A and that's country B, does not mean they should stop art from flowing across the borders.

    We forget that capitalism is what allowed classical music to flourish. Mozart is a prime example of this. He not only made a lot of money from selling his piano work and other works, he was a business man as he wrote music to cater to the market demand. Before the 19th century, even paper was relatively expensive. So both for composers and players, music was an expensive hobby. The free markets lead technological innovations which allowed demand and supply to increase. During the 19th century, as both publication and distribution leaped in efficiency, the market for music became extraordinary. Why did composers write so many String Quartets??!! To sell of course!

    We say today that Dvorák got his first break when Brahms endorsed him. But what he really got was access to Brahms' publisher! Why did Dvorák write the Slavonic Dances? It was because his publisher said there would be a market for some exotic piano music in Western Europe. It really wasn't until the WWI that composers stopped becoming people of a market, and changed to government civil servants.

    And I think the results speak for themselves. The 20th century saw an outpour of low quality music resulting from a lack of competition or market forces. Composers stopped writing for the public and instead starting writing cacophony for their fellow peers and teachers. Now, I don't mean to say that 20th century music is bad, as I love many works from the 20th century. I merely point out that some of the music is pure garbage, and declined in quality relative to the previous centuries.

    Today governments around the world provide many of the funds for symphonies and opera houses. Yet should they? It's easier than ever to become a classical music composer. Thanks to the internet, and indie classical music outlets, a young composer can showcase his music on myspace and facebook, and then sell it on magnatune. We seem to believe that governments should provide the means for classical music to flourish (symphony houses for example). But throughout history, music is constantly changing venues, and if we take this idea seriously, governments in the Middle Ages should have restricted all music to churches. Remember the changes in music venues (small baroque groups to symphonies) were due to advancements in technology and practicality as opposed to wise government planning.

    Today most consider Shakespeare part of high culture. During his day, the theaters were with the taverns and the brothels. Shakespeare was considered (in the 16-17th century) as having the artistic value of a pornography director. Thank god there wasn't government hand outs during Shakespeare's day, or he wouldn't have received a penny.

    I'd be curious to hear your thoughts,
    Erik

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso rojo's Avatar
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    Hello ErikinWest! Welcome!

    Great first post. I may have to reread some of the posts here, because I don`t recall the comments you are referring to; maybe I have simply forgotten. Also, the video looks interesting; don`t have the time at present, but will try to check it out in full later.

    This is quite an extensive subject, and I haven`t done much research into it, but here are my thoughts anyway.

    I thought Mozart was supported by the aristocracy.

    I'm Canadian as well, and remember the government subsidizing part of the costs of our school band trips; what do you think about government subsidizing music in schools? I think that`s very important, because for the most part (generalizing here) it's best to get people exposed to classical music when they are young, as it tends to leave a lasting impression. Also, not everyone can afford music lessons.

    What about the Russian classical music system? The government subsidized music for all there. Not saying I agree with the 'methods' used, but I think it has produced some great results.

    Don't know as I agree with you about the outpour of low quality music being produced in the 20th century, and I don't think of any of it as garbage. This is too subjective a point to argue, imo.

    It costs a fortune to have one's works played by a real orchestra, and not all composers can afford it. Probably very few. I look at orchestras as being a bit like museums. Living museums, allowing us to venture into history. For the most part, they play very old music and they have an old tradition. Which makes one ask, should the government subsidize museums? I think so.

    I think perhaps a combination of sources should be possible, not sure how it could be divided. But government, big business and the wealthy surely could all contribute. I don't know that it can be proven that government subsidies are bad for classical music. Actually, big business is probably where the most money can be found anyway though. Other than that, what is it exactly that people object to in terms of government subsidizing music? That the money is better spent on health care etc.? That may be true, and I haven`t seen the numbers, but I would think the amount going to the arts is fairly small in comparison. At least here in Canada, I don't think we can be considered a poor nation. So why not provide some money for the arts? I'm curious, what do you think about the CBC/Radio-Canada?

    I tend to have difficulty relating the music to the money, if you will. Economics is not my forté. That said, I know that Beethoven was a good businessman...
    ''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
    Captain of Water Music some guy's Avatar
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    The 20th century saw an outpour of low quality music resulting from a lack of competition or market forces. Composers stopped writing for the public and instead starting writing cacophony for their fellow peers and teachers.
    Your point about the free market would be more compelling if you'd leave off the tired old cliches about how awful twentieth century music is. Or perhaps if you'd at least give them with some examples, maybe? Give us some examples of "low quality music," say. (If it were me, I'd pick Bax and Hanson on the classical side. But I'd also say that if there were an outpouring of low quality music in the twentieth century it was not on the classical side, that it was driven by market forces, and that it pandered and continues to pander to the lowest, most simplistic urges of the "the public.")

    But that's as may be. Composers did not stop writing for "the public," because composers never started writing for "the public." For a public, may be. And a very narrow, specialized, educated public. And even though the audience for "classical music" seems to want only the standard, best-seller music of old, dead guys--I'm not convinced that that's what it really wants--it still is very small, comparatively, and very select.

    In any case, who is it who stopped writing for the public and started writing cacophony for his or her peers? Can you name even one? Several people wrote some music early in their careers that was fairly dense and complex (if that's at all what you mean by cacophony) and then started writing less dense, more familiar sounding music for "the public." Several people wrote familiar sounding music and continued to do so. I can't think of anyone who did what you claim was typical of the twentieth century, though.

    Now, I don't mean to say that 20th century music is bad, as I love many works from the 20th century. I merely point out that some of the music is pure garbage, and declined in quality relative to the previous centuries.
    Yes, and my grandfather used to insist that some of his best friends were blacks. Didn't make him any less a racist, though. (None of his best friends were blacks, either, just by the way!) Now it's my turn to merely point out something--that some music of any century is pure garbage, though we might not agree, you and I, on what constitutes garbage!! And some music represents a decline--Saint-Saens from Berlioz, say, though I would never in a million years call Saint-Saens' music garbage!!

    However, the same point applies here--the words "pure garbage" by themselves say nothing really about any music. They only say something about you and your tastes--and not really very much about them except that there are things--unspecified--that you don't like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rojo View Post
    I thought Mozart was supported by the aristocracy.
    Oh of course. I wouldn't want to deny that. But a system of patronage is very different from the system we have now. Let me explain. The Prime Minister gets a salary. Something like 150,000 is it? If he wanted to spend his money on music, I'd be fine with that. But the system of patronage was replaced to a certain extent by the government using tax dollars to create musical funds and have civil servants administer it. Now that was not a new idea, the support for the arts drastically declined by patronage in the 20th century.

    Quote Originally Posted by rojo View Post
    I'm Canadian as well, and remember the government subsidizing part of the costs of our school band trips; what do you think about government subsidizing music in schools? I think that`s very important, because for the most part (generalizing here) it's best to get people exposed to classical music when they are young, as it tends to leave a lasting impression. Also, not everyone can afford music lessons.
    Well that's a tough one. However, private schools also support bands and other musical programs. So one could argue that the government is merely replicating the private school system. I generally wouldn't call that subsidy.

    Quote Originally Posted by rojo View Post
    What about the Russian classical music system? The government subsidized music for all there. Not saying I agree with the 'methods' used, but I think it has produced some great results.
    Are you talking about tsarist Russia or communist Russia?

    Quote Originally Posted by rojo View Post
    It costs a fortune to have one's works played by a real orchestra, and not all composers can afford it. Probably very few. I look at orchestras as being a bit like museums. Living museums, allowing us to venture into history. For the most part, they play very old music and they have an old tradition. Which makes one ask, should the government subsidize museums? I think so.
    I think we both agree here in principle, but not in means. I also want symphony halls, museums, and art galleries. I just don't think the government should do it. I'd also like food, cars, and clothes, but I'm confident that the market could provide these services. The Museum of Modern Art is completely privately run for example (and created by a wealthy patron).

    Quote Originally Posted by rojo View Post
    I'm curious, what do you think about the CBC/Radio-Canada?
    Personally, I'd end all subsidies for them (if they get any). There are many ways to listen to classical music these days like satellite radio.

    Quote Originally Posted by some guy
    Your point about the free market would be more compelling if you'd leave off the tired old cliches about how awful twentieth century music is. Or perhaps if you'd at least give them with some examples, maybe? Give us some examples of "low quality music," say. (If it were me, I'd pick Bax and Hanson on the classical side.
    You want me to give some example of bad examples? How about some of Schoenberg or Gubaidulina?

    Quote Originally Posted by some guy
    But I'd also say that if there were an outpouring of low quality music in the twentieth century it was not on the classical side, that it was driven by market forces, and that it pandered and continues to pander to the lowest, most simplistic urges of the "the public.")
    But you're missing the fundamental point. My argument was that the music declined in quality. I assume you're talking about rap and hip-hop. These music forms were quite bad to begin with. Market forces didn't make them decline in quality. Whereas it did to the 20th century classical music.

    Quote Originally Posted by some guy
    But that's as may be. Composers did not stop writing for "the public," because composers never started writing for "the public." For a public, may be. And a very narrow, specialized, educated public. And even though the audience for "classical music" seems to want only the standard, best-seller music of old, dead guys--I'm not convinced that that's what it really wants--it still is very small, comparatively, and very select.
    Excuse me. You're history is just plain wrong. Before the 20th century, composers wrote music to be sold, played, or for particular patrons (do you know they're called the Brandenburg concerti? It was for the margrave of Brandenburg!).

    Quote Originally Posted by some guy
    In any case, who is it who stopped writing for the public and started writing cacophony for his or her peers? Can you name even one? Several people wrote some music early in their careers that was fairly dense and complex (if that's at all what you mean by cacophony) and then started writing less dense, more familiar sounding music for "the public." Several people wrote familiar sounding music and continued to do so. I can't think of anyone who did what you claim was typical of the twentieth century, though.
    If you know the life of Hovhaness it's fairly telling. But just a quick example first. When Shostakovich wrote his 7th, the academia labeled it as petty common music, with little to no artistic value. So anyways Hovhaness. His career suffered a set back after Copland and Bernstein criticized his symphony by saying "I can't stand this cheap ghetto music.". After that Hovhaness decided he would start writing music that everyman could enjoy. It was that sort of snobbery that persisted throughout the universities.

    It's hard to deny (actually impossible) that the 20th century changed the incentives for composers. Instead of having to write music that would have to be commercially successful, they instead could write music for each other, regardless if the public wanted to hear it.

    Erik

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    Captain of Water Music Art Rock's Avatar
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    It's interesting: you two seem to be coming from opposite parts of the spectrum w.r.t. 20th century classical music, yet the two pairs of composers you bring up to illustrate what's wrong with it (Bax/Hanson vs Schoenberg/Gubaiduluna) are amongst my favourites, especially Bax and Gubaidulina. Taste has been and always willl be something very personal.

  6. #6
    Captain of Water Music some guy's Avatar
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    Well, I don't suppose I'll change ErikinWest's mind about anything, but other people read these threads, so...

    Before the 20th century, composers wrote music to be sold, played, or for particular patrons (do you know they're called the Brandenburg concerti? It was for the margrave of Brandenburg!).
    Tee hee. You're so cute when you're patronizing..., as it were!!

    In the twentieth century, composers wrote music to be sold, played, or for particular patrons. (Do you know they're called the Freeman Etudes? It was for the great 20th century patron Betty Freeman.)

    So, so far, no apparent difference from the past.

    But you're missing the fundamental point. My argument was that the music declined in quality.
    Well, I think you may have missed my point, which was that you did not have an argument, yet, just an assertion. You now mention Schoenberg and Gubaidulina. OK, that's a start. In what way do they represent a decline? (And why those two? The only thing I can think of that they have in common is that they both consciously built on the past--that they both approached composition with the idea of how they fit into a tradition.)

    Otherwise, Schoenberg represents an advance on the past. He managed to push past the system of tonality that had been stretched for hundreds of years until people finally thought it was about to break. He came up with one solution, which was as systematic as the system it was meant to replace. Others were equally active. If tonality was not going to work any more, then people were free to explore other means of combining sounds--using polytonality and rhythm and sound mass and alternate tunings and tone color (which led to what we used to call "extended techniques" and that we now just think of as "playing one's instrument") to organize one's sounds. And of course, by mid-century, the very useful and interesting machine, the tape recorder. And all of that activity led, as now seems inevitable, to the idea that perhaps the whole idea of organizing--whether by a scale or a tone row or a serial matrix or whatever--could be usefully questioned. Useful meaning that the question, could one actually compose without organizing the sounds?, could be answered in the affirmative.

    None of that sounds to me like a decline. Fewer people wrote symphonic music, true. But chamber works continued unabated. Small ensemble works. Works using electronics were added to the mix (pun!). And always the overriding notion that more and more sounds were available, more and more sounds could be considered musically interesting until, hey presto!, it became literally true: all sounds were musical. By naming Schoenberg and Gubaidulina, I'm guessing that that's not what you had in mind when you said "decline," though. Or?

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    I'm going to bring it back to the basics. I'll admit too much of my statement was subjective. So let me bring it back to the objective. I'll outline it in my points again.

    1. The areas in which culture has flourished the most have been the places with decentralized control. Diversity has created the great achievements of civilization. Hegemony does very little for art. So my first point was that there ought not to be a centralized art system.

    2. Second point was that market forces had a lot to do with shaping classical music. I tried to point out that the capitalist system allowed classical music to flourish in the western world. Point being that a wealthy society is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for the flourishing of arts.

    3. Finally to the 20th century. It's undeniable that the 19th century saw the largest outpouring of eleemosynary activity. Before that, the wealthy would help build hospitals, charities, universities, and many artistic activities. With the rise of statism in the 20th century, government began taking on the role as patron of the arts. Again, this much is undeniable. I merely pointed that the state over took the voluntary patronage of the market. I therefore stated what I believed to be a cause in the decline of musical quality. Since the government started to subsidize art, it did it badly. It would chose art over national reasons (which in my first point I pointed out why I disagree with that). Governments began erecting walls against foreign artwork (we do it in Canada, by forcing a certain amount of Canadian content).

    Now ‘some guy’, do you disagree that incentives have changed? Are you really telling me that artists' patronage has not changed during the 20th century? Are you really telling me that government hasn't changed the market forces when it comes to art work? If you at least admit that government has forced itself as a patron of the arts, won't you at least admit that this would create a new incentive? And surely, new incentives will create a different outcome.

    There is a reason that string quartets from the 19th and earlier centuries are much easier to learn than many from the 20th. You don't learn the piano from Bartok and Martinu! It's not a coincidence that we still play Bach pieces on the piano to learn its fundamentals. It's not a coincidence that when teaching any student from the violin, to the cello, you learn pre-20th century music (now certainly you learn some, but im trying to point out it’s limited relative to the quantity produced)! 20th century composers didn't have to write music playable by amateurs. The government sheltered them from the market. So instead of writing music for all, they could focus on writing highly complex music for a small group of people. That's why classical music declined in quality. That's why classical music's decline in popularity has been exacerbated!

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    Captain of Water Music Ouled Nails's Avatar
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    Welcome to this classical music forum!
    For someone like me who very much likes twentieth-century music and who greatly appreciates what I perceive as the far greater diversity of artistic expression during that century, your market-based reasoning is not particularly appealing . I'm trying to understand your leading argument but the evidence you offer in support of it does not strike me as valid. For instance, the Bartok allusion: of course one can learn the piano from this composer because that's exactly how he conceived the 153 short pieces in Mikrokosmos. So, right there, I have to reject that example, an example seemingly premised on the notion that all twentieth-century music is less "user-friendly" than in previous centuries. It's simply not the case, whether one refers to piano music or string quartets.
    Being especially interested in Soviet era music, it's mighty difficult to agree with your notion that artistic creativity is somehow a function of decentralization. My God! Composers such as Shostakovich, Khachaturian, Myaskovsky, Weinberg, Prokofiev, etc., achieved some of the most inspired classical works of the century because they were struggling against the formidably odds of one of the most centralized, despotic, brutal police state of our modern times. I assure you their orchestral works compare very favorably with what was being composed in North America. (Surely, you cannot argue that Canadian composers were more artistically successful than these Soviet composers?)
    Lastly, I thought that many folks in Canada were strong advocates of government support for the arts since the 1920's, i.e., since that point in time when American technology rendered the Canada-US border far less relevant for artistic products. Canadian media were less powerful, less developed, and did not benefit from the tremendous economies of scale of their American competitors (Indeed, wasn't this the case for most Canadian products, including Canadian-owned automobile companies?). Would it have been possible for these media to survive, during the early years of their development, at a time when they provided better access to Canadian artists than most (all?) American media if they had not been given some support by the central government, especially in the fifties and sixties?

    As I read your posts, it is difficult for me the escape the impression that you begin by postulating some economic principle and then proceed to support with some debatable assumptions, such as the poor quality of music in the twentieth century. I could be wrong but that's how I'm reading this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ouled Nails View Post
    For someone like me who very much likes twentieth-century music and who greatly appreciates what I perceive as the far greater diversity of artistic expression during that century, your market-based reasoning is not particularly appealing .
    Ahah! I never expected it would be! One thing I do ask all people is to consider this. What I am expressing is a new idea. You would never be taught this at government schools. So the knee jerk reaction is going to be one of horror and disgust. Don't worry, I'm used to this . So I ask people to keep an opened mind.

    Oh and I would also like to say: maybe people might want to watch the video I posted this accompanying the topic!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ouled Nails View Post
    I'm trying to understand your leading argument but the evidence you offer in support of it does not strike me as valid. For instance, the Bartok allusion: of course one can learn the piano from this composer because that's exactly how he conceived the 153 short pieces in Mikrokosmos. So, right there, I have to reject that example, an example seemingly premised on the notion that all twentieth-century music is less "user-friendly" than in previous centuries. It's simply not the case, whether one refers to piano music or string quartets.
    Well Ouled, I'm not sure if you learned the piano. But I mean common, ask anyone, you don't learn the piano from 20th century music. I can tell you that. You certainly play some, but really, you start with Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ouled Nails View Post
    Being especially interested in Soviet era music, it's mighty difficult to agree with your notion that artistic creativity is somehow a function of decentralization. My God! Composers such as Shostakovich, Khachaturian, Myaskovsky, Weinberg, Prokofiev, etc., achieved some of the most inspired classical works of the century because they were struggling against the formidably odds of one of the most centralized, despotic, brutal police state of our modern times. I assure you their orchestral works compare very favorably with what was being composed in North America. (Surely, you cannot argue that Canadian composers were more artistically successful than these Soviet composers?)
    The problem with the Soviet system is the short sidedness. I can say oh look between 1917-91 there was an amazing outpour of artistic creativity. The problem with that is it fails to look what happened before that date. Remember as I have said before, it wasn't until the 19th century that even paper became cheap. Remember, art can only occur once a certain level of economic development occurs. Now certainly communism did nothing for that. So it was the developments of pre-soviet Russia that even allowed Soviet Russia to have an artistic outpour.

    Now if you know about Russia, you know how decentralized the country is. It is a country of over 30 languages and many cultures. Certainly the Soviet Union had even more cultures even Russia (Central Asia and the Caucasus). No Russian composer can truly capture all of the country.

    Certainly art can flourish under any situation (once a level of development has been reached). But my main point here is that art can work under a capitalism decentralized model. Art does exist under a centralized model also. But is it the best one to chose? To champion the Soviet system is almost to advocate murder and tyranny. Some of the greatest cinema came from Nazi rule. Does that mean we should kill Jews to have great theatre? Solzhenitsyn is one of the greatest Russian writers. Does that mean we should throw people in a Gulag to get great literature?

    And while the Soviet system did produce great art, it was unstable by its very nature. Many soviet artists were killed by the system that gave them many of their means. What I hope to explain to people is that art can exist under a decentralized as well a centralized model. Now choosing between the two which is better? As a person who believes in freedom and diversity, I personally think that a decentralized system is best.

    As you say, perhaps soviet art is fantastic due to the brutal nature of the country. What are you implying? That we ought to rape and murder people to get great art? Of course I assume you would say no!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ouled Nails View Post
    Lastly, I thought that many folks in Canada were strong advocates of government support for the arts since the 1920's, i.e., since that point in time when American technology rendered the Canada-US border far less relevant for artistic products. Canadian media were less powerful, less developed, and did not benefit from the tremendous economies of scale of their American competitors (Indeed, wasn't this the case for most Canadian products, including Canadian-owned automobile companies?). Would it have been possible for these media to survive, during the early years of their development, at a time when they provided better access to Canadian artists than most (all?) American media if they had not been given some support by the central government, especially in the fifties and sixties?
    And what's your point? I could throw up tariffs to protect say Canadian hair pins or coat hangars. As I've said before, I believe that we ought to let culture form in a decentralized way. The Canadian government right now acts in a very fascist manner. Many Canadians have been taught through government schools that the government is great at everything it does. When the CRTC was formed, it was created by a group of elite people. Many of the New Deal policies were the job of intellectuals and technocrats. Countries that try to stop foreign culture from entering act like a bunch of barbarians in my opinion.

    But I really want to stress my underlying point. I'm going to stop my rhetoric about 20th century music, as it is probably counterproductive. Art can flourish in both a decentralized as well as a centralized model. Many people today have been taught and indoctrinated that only your national government can protect art. I hope to change this view. Maybe once people accept the legitimacy of a market based system, we can have a discussion of the subject.

    Erik

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    Captain of Water Music some guy's Avatar
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    I don't think "horror and disgust" really captures our reactions adequately.

    Nor, for that matter, does "knee-jerk." ON and I have both noticed a certain faint circularity about your argument, that's all.

    And you don't seem to have a very high opinion of our intelligence, or or our ability to have gone through "government schools" without being indoctrinated. One's ability to think and reason develops via many avenues, perhaps even via some lanes and alleyways, for that matter. Only one of those roads is the academy.

    So I guess what this adds up to is that no, we're not going to let you off so easily. We're smarter and less indoctrinated and more able to understand and evaluate new ideas than you give us credit for. (Why, I can evaluate three new ideas before breakfast, five days a week. It's true!)

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    Commodore con Forza Sybarite's Avatar
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    The BBC. And the Proms.

    Which ErikinWest will, presumably, never attend or listen to on principle.

    Aside from the Proms, which is very popular, in the UK, many people consider music and opera to be of the elite – prices for opera, for instance, are 'known' to be exorbitant.

    Go to somewhere such as Amsterdam, though, and you can attend a concert at the Concertgeboew for a very low price – a few years ago, the equivalent of £10 for a non-concessionary ticket (that was a flat rate – the top and bottom price), which makes attending such events extremely affordable and, therefore, very democratic.

    If we believe that art is important and valuable, then surely we have to believe that it should be accessible to all?

    ************************************************** *

    On a slightly different note: the standard of writing in TV drama in the UK has declined in the last two decades. There are no Alan Bleasdales and Dennis Potters coming through.

    The trouble is, subsidies to the theatre were butchered in the 1980s. These subsidies, having existed since after WWII, allowed talent to develop from across society, regardless of whether they came from poor or wealthy backgrounds. They allowed people to go to drama school who could not otherwise have afforded it. They allowed theatres to stage plays that were risky because they were not guaranteed to make great profits.

    Where are the new Alan Bennetts, David Hares, Harold Pinters, Alan Platers, Carol Churchills etc etc?

    And one result of that? As I said, a decline in the standard of writing for TV drama.

    I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by some guy View Post
    I don't think "horror and disgust" really captures our reactions adequately.

    Nor, for that matter, does "knee-jerk." ON and I have both noticed a certain faint circularity about your argument, that's all.

    And you don't seem to have a very high opinion of our intelligence, or or our ability to have gone through "government schools" without being indoctrinated. One's ability to think and reason develops via many avenues, perhaps even via some lanes and alleyways, for that matter. Only one of those roads is the academy.

    So I guess what this adds up to is that no, we're not going to let you off so easily. We're smarter and less indoctrinated and more able to understand and evaluate new ideas than you give us credit for. (Why, I can evaluate three new ideas before breakfast, five days a week. It's true!)
    I never meant to insult your intelligence. So please, do not assume I meant any personal attacks. Having discussed my ideas frequently, I tend to find people automatically dismiss them. That's why I ask people to keep an opened mind. So perhaps now you we can address some of my points. Using say historical or anecdotal evidence. I'd much rather prefer a discussion than a personal fight.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sybarite
    The BBC. And the Proms.

    Which ErikinWest will, presumably, never attend or listen to on principle.

    Aside from the Proms, which is very popular, in the UK, many people consider music and opera to be of the elite – prices for opera, for instance, are 'known' to be exorbitant.
    Actually I do enjoy many of the BBC's programs. I also enjoy the CBC.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sybarite
    If we believe that art is important and valuable, then surely we have to believe that it should be accessible to all?
    I also believe that food is very valuable, however, I don't think the government should be producing and distributing it (or even subsidizing or protecting it for that matter). And yes of course I'd like music to be accessible. But I believe that a free market with consumer driven demand and patronage could achieve that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sybarite
    The trouble is, subsidies to the theatre were butchered in the 1980s. These subsidies, having existed since after WWII, allowed talent to develop from across society, regardless of whether they came from poor or wealthy backgrounds. They allowed people to go to drama school who could not otherwise have afforded it. They allowed theatres to stage plays that were risky because they were not guaranteed to make great profits.
    I'm slightly startled with the words subsidies and poor. Tell me Sybarite, who are the key beneficiaries of these art subsidies? Since I guess you watch British television, I'm sure you watched the Yes Prime Minister episode with the art funds for the royal opera house. Is it the poor citizens of London's East End who enjoy Wagner, Puccini, and Wilde? Do the symphony and theatre subsidies go to low income classes or do they go to upper middle income civil servants and businessmen?

    And again, I retreat to history. Since English theatre was brought up, let's talk about Shakespeare. Here was a man whose theatres were located with the bars and brothels. A man whose society thought of his artistic talents as rubbish. If there had of been government hand outs during the 17th century, do you think Shakespeare would have received a penny?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sybarite
    I leave you to draw your own conclusions.
    Well, certainly correlations are not causations. And why haven't there been more Bachs or Mozarts? Countries experience cycles of artistic creation. And remember, historically artists, poets, playwrights, did have to make a profit! Surely you're not saying that Shakespeare didn't have to make a profit. The man ran a business. He was incorporated with the theatres. He had a share in their success. Profit is not evil.

    This idea that government must protect artists from profit is like saying: "the public is not smart enough to know what ought to be art". And what's democratic about that?

    Erik

  13. #13
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso rojo's Avatar
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    Erikin, this is actually a fairly common debate; I think all of us have heard it before, it's nothing new.

    I feel you're 'barking up the wrong tree' here. If your argument against government support for orchestras etc. is that the music has declined in quality, then you've come to the wrong place for support; this forum is full of people who love music of the 20th century, and contemporary music. You really won't be able to convince us otherwise. I personally see no decline whatsoever, only evolution. The same degree of innovation and talent as has existed since music began. The issue of decline you put forth is simply a matter of opinion, and one I personally do not share.

    I think you should be using the political system to express you opinion, as the rest of us do; that is, vote for politicians who share your views regarding subsidies to the arts.

    It sounds to me like you would wish to go back in time; there will never be another Bach or Beethoven, nor music of their kind, but not for the reasons you give.

    Regarding learning to play the piano; it depends entirely on the teacher. I for one use tons of stuff besides just Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. A good piano teacher (imo) will provide the student with music of all periods and composers, using as much variety as possible. Personally, I use a lot of Kabalevsky, Tansman, Martha Mier (jazz), Maykapar, Grieg, Satie, Debussy, and more recent composers like Linda Niamath, Clifford Poole, even a bit of pop and way too many other things to list here. So I find your comments about piano teaching to be erroneous.
    ''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


  14. #14
    Apprentice, Piano
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    Quite honestly I'm not much of a fan of Mozart. And I don't want to go back in time in style, but merely in principle. 17th century music sounded different than 18th which sounded different than 19th, etc. So of course I would expect 20th century music to sound different. I'm not saying that.

    And my main point I'm trying to make, is that art can flourish in a commercial society. This idea is opposed by every political party in Canada. So it is quite extreme in my opinion. And therefore I hope to be able to persuade people that government subsidies are not needed for the preservation of art.

    My arguments about 20th century music are too subjective. So I'll retract those statements.

    Erik

  15. #15
    Captain of Water Music some guy's Avatar
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    My arguments about 20th century music are too subjective. So I'll retract those statements.
    How dare you retract things!! Get those gloves back on and get back in the ring!!

    But seriously, and entirely off-topic, I just noticed that you're practically a neighbor. Just a short, six-hour train ride to the north. And in the same town as Barry Truax. Do you know any of the folks at Simon Fraser?

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