Karl raises several interesting points.
When I referred to the success of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, I just
meant in terms of selling tickets and staying solvent, passing no judgement
on the artistic side.
Waterloo Records in Austin is nationally famous as an independent record
shop. Its tiny classical department was always worth browsing, even
before Russell got there. Waterloo told me that if they had the space
they would love to have a bigger classical section. It's a one-story
building...When I win the lottery I'm going to build them a second floor
and move back to Austin!
As far as lip service to the arts is concerned (stop me if you've heard
this before)...In the early 1950s my dad bought me my first classical
records, a box of 45 singles comprising Horowitz's recording of Schumann's
Kinderscenen. (Does anybody know where I can get a CD transfer of that?)
I picked it out (at Radio Doctors in Milwaukee, if you want to know),
but my dad approved, saying, "That's the kind of music that never goes
out of date." My dad didn't care much about classical music, but he got
that attitude from his mother, who still had a 78 by Madame Schumann-Heink.
He was in his early 30s then. How many parents in their early 30s today
would recognise the names of living classical performers? The last
classical media star was Leonard Bernstein.
Which brings me to my final point. Karl is absolutely right when he
>The business model has changed. It seems to me that when the classical
>music business placed the emphasis on the word business, it lost something.
>And with trying to milk the old business models to death, it seems to
>me that it has strangled some of the art out of the music.
When David Sarnoff created the NBC Symphony and hired Toscanini, he was
selling a high-class image to my father and his mother; those of us who
watched the broadcasts and bought the records were the beneficiaries.
By the time Toscanini retired, the value of the high-class image was
being destroyed. (All power to the BBC! Up with the Proms!)
The Schwann catalog was a great loss, but I wonder if its central idea
might not be revived on the Internet some day. Advertising on the Net
has now surpassed newspaper advertising in Britain; we are only seeing
the beginning of the changes in the media. And with new media will come
new business models.
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