Karl Miller wrote:

> When I think about the programming of orchestras...if one were
> to apply the same notions of programming to what is offered in movie
> theaters you would find countless rescreenings of Gone with the
> Wind and Citizen Kane.  Art museums would be filled with reproductions
> of the Mona Lisa, etc.  Concerts of popular music would be all songs
> made famous by Sinatra...etc.  How did art music get locked into a
> few "masterpieces?"

I suspect it comes down to marketing, or lack of it.  Movie theaters,
radio stations, dance halls etc were all competing with one another in
the business of trying to excite the public with something new; the
division between "highbrow" and "lowbrow" culture in the USA by the
mid-19th century (the terms from crackpot anthropology of the period)
meant that concert halls could become museums: just by presenting the
"classics" they could help the audience convince themselves that they
were a cut above the hoi polloi.  It worked for generations, but now
they've run out of audience.

Just last night I was describing Varese's "Deserts" to my son (28 years
old) and he thought that might be something he could listen to.  But he
added, "Why should I listen to music in a place where I can't smoke and
drink beer?" He was only half kidding.


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