Nathan Lofton asks:
>It's interesting to see some renewed interest in Classical music from
>one of the big record companies, but I have to ask the question: is this
>really what classical music needs to get going again? Do we really need
>more recordings of Beethoven 5, Dvorak 9, and Mozart 40?
In the current issue of Commentary, Terry Teachout summarizes a recent
book ("Classical Music in America: A History of Its Rise and Fall" by
Joseph Horowitz) which explains this dreary phenomenon. The argument
is that classical music in the US is a 19th century European transplant
with shallow roots that is "more about the New York Philharmonic than
Charles Ives, more about the Metropolitan Opera than Aaron Copland". It
is, in short, a "culture of PERFORMANCE". As Aaron Copland wrote in
1941: "Very often I get the impression that audiences seem to think that
the endless repetition of a small body of entrenched masterworks is all
that is required for a ripe musical culture."
The peculiar USAmerican lack of interest in the creation (as opposed to
the performance) of serious music is ruefully mentioned by the composer
John Adams in a recent interview. He recounts: "In our street we have
friends with lots in common. We discuss new books, films, popular
culture, politics---everything except serious music. That shuts everyone
up. I don't think they even know what I do."