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Why Is It So Difficult To Promote Classical Music In America ?

   Every one who loves classical music  and follows what is going on in the field  is deeply concerned about  the greying of audiences  at concerts ,opera and  other classical events .  Where are the younger  people ?  Why is it so difficult to  sell out  performances and attract  more people to them ?  Who or what is to blame for this predicament ?  Can classical music survive and  flourish  in America ?  And given the woeful lack of  government support , how can we get  private philanthropies  and wealthy people to contribute  enough to keep  our strugggling  orchestras and opera companies from going under  and  jeopardizing the livelihoods of the many  talented, dedicated and hard-working  classical musicians in America ?

    There are no easy answers to these questions .  But one thing is certain ;  the orchestras, opera companies  , the conductors ,musicians , and  arts administrators cannot and must not  take all the blame, as some  music critics and commentators would have us believe .  The difficulties with  growing audiences are absolutley not  due to  a lack of  artistic excellence or a lack of  interesting repertoire .  Nor are they due, as some would have us believe , to the fact that  so much of what is heard  at performances is music from the past and a lack of new music . In fact, within the last 30 years or so ,  an enormous number of new orchestral works, operas , and other classical works have been  performed , more than  most peopel realize . 

   In fact, there is greater diversity of repertoire being performed today than ever before in the history of Western Classical Music .  The repertoire  is anything but  "ossified" as many critics claim .  It is in constant flux .  There is a core repertoire of lastingly popular works by Mozart, Beethoven, Bach ,  Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Schumann , Mendelssohn  , Rachmaninov and other world-famous composers , but ever year new works are introduced , and  long neglected works from th epast are revivied . 

    Nor  can any one claim that  standards of performance  are not  very high , and that  lackluster performances are the norm .  In fact, standards of performance is probably higher than ever before .  Fifty years ago ,  there were only  a handful of world-class orchestras in America ;  basically those of  New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Cleveland , the so-called "big five" orchestras .  But now there are world-class orchestras in Los Angeles, San Francisco,  Pittsburgh, Detroit, St.Louis,  Baltimore, Washington,D.C., Seattle,  Minneapolis,  Houston,Dallas,  and other U.S. cities, and even the so-called lesser orchestras  all over America are now  better than ever before , due to the many  highly gifted young musicians  trained at  our top music schools . 

   Until  fairly recently, the only  major opera companies in America were the Met in New York ,  the New York City opera, and  those of San Francisco and  Chicago .  But  the number of opera companies in America has  increased to a degree which would have been previously unimaginable .  

   So   why is it so difficult to grow audiences ?  Things are   not  completely gloomy , and opera as a whole in in fact more poplular than ever before .  There is absolutely no reason why ay one  who is not  a classical music lover  and knows little or nothing about this kind of music  should NOT give  it  a chance  .  If they would just keep an open mind  and try it, they might  become highly enthusiastic  and wonder where classical music had been all their lives .

   Part of the problem may be diue to a lack of music appreciation classes  in our public schools  , as these have unfortunately been  dropped  for the most part .  Another reason is undoubtebly  the fact that  th emyth that classical music is "stuffy,boring and elitist ", and not something for  "regular people".  Another is the fact that classical music  is so vastly different from the kinds of music that  so many Americans enjoy , whether ,Pop, Rock,  Country Western, or what have you . It's much more complex on the whole , and  you need to learn something about it first . 

   You see,  when most Americans think about "music", they think  of songs .  They are not accustomed to listening to purely instrumental  music  which  unflds and developes over a period of time.  Vocal music, such as opera, art songs,  oratorios etc, is a very importan tpart of classical music , but much is purely instrumental, such as symphonies, concertos, sonatas ,etc  .  Untile peopel get accustomed to it , classicla music  will often seem  as  difficult to  understand as a language with which you are unfamiliar .  But it doesn't require as much time or effort  as to learn a foreign language .   

   Again, there are no easy answers  as to how to  get more people to make classical music a part of their lives .  But  we must  never lose hope !



Posted: Jul 10 2012, 10:55 PM by the horn | with no comments
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