It's Time For A Classical Music Reality Check
Yes, these are difficult and uncertaIn times for classical music ,not only in America but in Europe and elsewhere because of economic conditions. But one thing is certain, despite all the
wringing of hands over declining and aging audiences, the alleged "stodginess" of the classical music world , the orchestras and opera companies whose existence is in
jeopardy, classical music is still very much alive and kicking .
Consider some of the positive things about this magnificent ,centuries-old art form today. Not many critics and commentators do this ; there's too much one-sided harping on how classical music needs to"change" to adapt to the present day in order to become "relevant".
There are now more symphony orchestras,opera companies, chamber ensembles, choruses, and other groups performing classical music than ever before . Classical music has never been easier to hear ,whether live or recorded . There is an absolutely staggering amount and variety of it available on CD,and now more and more of it on DVD.
The internet makes it possible for any one with a computer to purchase or download classical music of all kinds at the click of a mouse. Any one can stream all manner of concerts and opera performances with the greatest of ease. Any one who enjoys classical music can hear everthing from music written 500 or more years ago to the most recent works by contemporary composers .
Despite all the experts who long for the "golden age" of musical performance , standards of performance are higher than ever. There is absolutely no lack of great conductors, pianists,violinists,cellists and virtuosos on other instruments . Standards of orchestral playing are higher than ever. There are more world-class orchestras than ever before.
50 or 60 years ago in America, there were only a handful of world-class orchestras in America. Now there are dozens. Our orchestras are not "museums", or "dinosaurs" as some so-called experts would have us believe . They are the repositories of a vast range of orchestral music ranging from the 18th century to the present day.
Old and new music co-exist in the repertoire,as they should.
If you attend the opera, you can hear operas by Mozart and Handel which were written in the 18th century as well as operas receiving their world premieres. There are certain beloved operatic standards by Verdi,Puccini, Rossini,Bizet, Mozart, Massenet, and Donizetti which long ago achieved lasting popularity , but there are also wonderful operas by such composers as Janacek,Dvorak, Zemlinsky, Franz Schreker, Berlioz, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and others which were obscure until recently , and contemporary composers such as John Adams, Philip Glass, Kaaia Saariaho, Thomas Ades, Daniel Catan,
Tan Dun and others have written recent operas which have had considerable success .
Many so-called experts make it sound as though it were not even worth attending concerts and opera . On the contrary -it has never been more worthwhile.