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CLASSICAL  March 2008

CLASSICAL March 2008

Subject:

Re: My "Blind Taste Test" at an NSO Concert

From:

Steve Schwartz <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 22 Mar 2008 14:30:10 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (39 lines)

Denis Fodor replies to Karl Miller:

> As a longtime attender of concerts and opera I've gotten a feel, I think,
> for what audiences like, what they'll abide --and for how long-- and
> what they dislike.  It's these dispositions, and not what critics or
> composers favor or disfavor, that are the ones which decide the game.
> Moreover, both the concert halls and the recording companies must try
> to respond to established audience taste in order to pay their way.  But
> they also must insert some new, problematic, stuff into their programs,
> to attest to liveliness.  The audience does react to this, but only
> slowly, and then perhaps less from their concert/opera-going than from
> their film-viewing where they often encounter, and become vaguely
> accustomed to, music that's "different".  Attenders can take astringent
> music only to the extent that if affords a helpful change of pace --
> as little of it as will serve--from the dulcet or customary.  To these
> people ten minutes of Webern at best makes 'em feel they've done their
> duty to modernity.  It's a lucky thing that Webern composed short
> pieces--for both Webern and the attenders.  They can dutifully be sneaked
> into programs without alienating the paying customers.

The problem with this is that we can all easily think of repertoire,
even popular, pieces that were box-office poison for years after they
were written.  Think of just about any work by Berlioz, most of the later
Beethoven symphonies, the Brahms Third, Fourth, and the Double Concerto,
Elgar's Second and cello concerto, Copland's Appalachian Spring, etc.
I doubt anybody knows what makes a hit.  At most we know what the audience
reaction has been, rather than what it will be.

I keep saying that music is a risk: for composer, performer, and audience.
The problem is that at least two of those folks want something close to
sure-fire.

Steve Schwartz

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