Classical music and music in 2007

January 14, 2007 at 06:06 AM · So guys after another dissapointing year of classical music what do you think 2007 will bring to classical music and music in general,Will rap return to is roots?Will rockers stop making noise and trying to play classical music?Will classical musicians start composing new music and thinking of beter titles for their albums. (For the record JB's Voice Of The Violin was a terrible title for an album.) Will America become cultured? Even though 2006 was Mozart's 250th anninersary, besides Google's whimsical artwork and a couple of celebratory concerts in Vienna nothing really happened.I wonder what Mozart's 300th anniversary will be like, Hmm, that will be in the year 2056 and i will be about 65 or 66 years old.But in the meantime lets talk about 2007.

Replies (39)

January 14, 2007 at 06:39 AM · I don't necessarily agree that 2006 was a bad year for classical music. You bring up a couple of points, but they may be completely localised to you. I know that for one, Perth hosted a Mozart Festival in January to celebrate his anniversary, and we had lots of Mozart performances throughout the year, both in the chamber music and symphony orchestra programs.

I'm starting to see a bit more interest in Classical Music in Australia. I'm seeing more people going to orchestra concerts (even if the ones they go to are the more "popular" classics - Eine Kleiner and Messiah for example). The Australian Music Council is having a big push to get more people involved in music - especially in community levels, through their Music.Play for Life campaign.

As for "What will 2007 hold" I hate these questions. We can always have our hopes... that there will be such great a demand for orchestras that there will be more orchestras started (giving more positions to all the struggling musicians auditioning in such a cut-throat industry), and that more interest will attract more companies giving sponsorship which flows through to increased pay levels across the board. That increased audience numbers flow through to more people wanting to learn instruments so that Music Teachers get more students and can earn more due to increased demand. That more schools implement music programs giving some teachers permanency and a guaranteed income.

But these are dreams - more likely than not, 2007 will be much like 2006, which was much like 2007. You must realise that just because it's a different year, it doesn't mean that things will change. The US will not pull out of Iraq just because it's 2007. The drought in Australia won't end simply because the man-made division of time has changed from 2006 to 2007. To take a line out of Guilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado" - "These divisions of time are purely arbitrary." To say that there will be massive changes due to the change of year is like saying that while today I cannot play a round of 9 holes of golf in less than 60 shots, tomorrow I will shoot 36, because it's the 15th of January, as opposed to the 14th.

No - if we want to see change in the Music world, we need long lasting implementations. We need a large long-term investment into music in all levels of schooling, which then flows through to more musicians, and more people being educated about music and wanting to see quality stuff. Imagine, if everyone had a thorough musical education lasting the entirety of their Compulsory schooling, they wouldn't end up accepting music that is below standard. We wouldn't end up having mass produced pop artists who look good, because people will know that their music sucks and won't buy it. THe Record Studios will have to start finding real talent, and everyone will be the better. However, this sort of thing will need an agreement from all governments that Music Education is important, and agree to support it long term - not because it is necessarily something that will win votes, but because it is the right thing to do.

January 14, 2007 at 09:36 AM · It's troubling that we consider censorship and dictating taste to be for the greater good.

There has always been vapid and forgetable music, that will never change.

2007 will be probably much of the same as 2006. As dismal as people think it is, I personally have gone to so many incredible concerts in the past year. I don't think it's as gloomy as we often make it out to be.

January 14, 2007 at 12:53 PM · Hi,

How will classical music be in 2007? Consider this: ICM is getting rid of its classical division, which will apparently be reshaped under independant management. I guess that says something...

Cheers!

January 14, 2007 at 04:46 PM · I'm still boggling at Toni's claim that 2006 was a dismal year for classical music AND that the Mozart anniversary wasn't comprehensively celebrated. I think that in future Mr/Ms Furman should maybe do some research before making such ludicrous, nonsensical claims.

Oh hang on, it's Toni. So situation normal - all claim, no research, no sense.

Neil

January 16, 2007 at 04:08 AM · I refute that assumption.

January 16, 2007 at 04:39 AM · I saw a 30 sec. commercial for "Nuttin' But Stringz." They're like Time For Three but black. Similar backgrounds. I thought Time For Three sounded like very well-played modern country music, but maybe not authentic anything. NBS seemed like a real continuation and elaboration of traditions though, which gave it some power beyond just good fiddling.

January 16, 2007 at 04:36 AM · I see nothing but positive things for classical music in 2007, 2008, 2025....

I wrote an essay on it but it's too wordy; but, technolgy, when it truly lands on classical ears, is going to be like a fish in the water.

The strident techniques and notions of classical strings at least is going to have a big impact on all kinds of string players around the world--and it will have been Laurie and Buri's fault.

from the mountain,

aj

January 16, 2007 at 05:32 AM · Neil

>Oh hang on, it's Toni. So situation normal - all claim, no research, no sense.

Toni

>I refute that assumption.

Buri

>Not well.

January 17, 2007 at 05:35 PM · MOTS (More Of The Same), both good and bad.

Sandy

January 20, 2007 at 05:32 AM · Bons mots.

January 20, 2007 at 06:12 AM · Greetings,

which is almost an anagram of snot bosom. Don@t know it that`s good or bad...

Cheers,

Buri

January 20, 2007 at 07:09 AM · That might not be a good look.

January 27, 2007 at 03:55 AM · Hello?

January 27, 2007 at 04:38 AM · Hello.

January 27, 2007 at 07:04 AM · hi

i think itll be the same awful classical music year just like last year.

same Hilary Hahn

and Vengerov

amd Joshua Bell/.

all these people are just not in musicaly. Vengerov was much much much better when he was smaller, now, hes just making stupid clown faces when he plays the violin. There isn't that beautiful sound which each violinist has to be born with.

January 27, 2007 at 03:27 PM · I personally think this will be a great year for classical music. It might just be localized with me but that is my guess. Here in Rochester, NY, there has been a 6.5% increase in ticket sales for the RPO. My orchestra the FingerLakes Symphony exsperienced a 33% increase in ticket sales so far this year, selling almost every seat where we perform.

Also look at v.com. We have something like over a dozen new members a day! If that isn't a good omen I don't know what is.

January 27, 2007 at 06:02 PM · I think there are signs of really good things on the horizon. I was reading an account of the Edmonton [Alberta, Canada] Symphony's concert of music from video games--they did everything from arrangements of the themes from Pong/Donkey Kong/Mario Brothers, to music from Halo and Final Fantasy (which is beautiful and challenging music to play.) They commented that, for the first time that anyone could remember, the average age of the concert attendee was under 35, with tickets sold out, and there was wild applause and great appreciation for each piece played. They also interviewed two 17 years olds with no music background who attended solely because of the video game connection, who are now curious enough to attend the rest of the concert season to see what "regular" orchestra concerts are like.

My hope for 2007 is that more and more orchestras see the benefit in concerts like this, not as a permanent change to their whole season, but as a way to help new listeners gently enter what can be a very intimidating world.

January 27, 2007 at 06:15 PM · To Eliee BD:

Excuse me, but I happen to think Vengerov is one of the finest violinists of this generation. So he makes funny faces, big deal, he can't help it. I've seen other people make weird faces while playing, it's usually involuntary.

As for him not having the "beautiful sound" that every violinist has to be "born with"--first of all no one is BORN with a perfect, beautiful sound, what do you think teachers, conservatories and endless hours of practicing are for? Second of all, I personally find the modern ideal of the "beautiful sound" to be rather bland and sterile, superficially sensuous and pleasing as background music for the idle ear. It's lovely at first but gets boring fast. Listen to old recordings from the "Golden Age". Listen to Bronislav Hubermann, Jóska Szigeti, Jen? Hubay, Fritz Kreisler, Yehudi Menuhin. Notice how each of them has a sound as distinctive as their own human voice? And notice how none of them sound anything like the slick, smooth "beautiful sound" of modern times? I am most familiar with Szigeti, and I can tell you that sometimes his sound is wiry and lean, sometimes warm and sweet, sometimes it rasps like an old peasant's folk song. I can also tell you that it is one of the most compelling and fascinating things I have ever heard.

In my opinion Vengerov belongs more in that tradition than in the fashion of modern times. Like him or not, you can recognize him immediately. Too many of our modern violinists all sound alike--I can turn on the radio and not know whether it's Bell, Hahn, Chang, etc. I can recognize Vengerov after about ten seconds. I personally enjoy him--there is a sort of earthy, elemental vitality in his playing that I like a lot. (I do recognize that he's one of those types that there's no middle ground, either you love him or you hate him.) I freely acknowledge that I don't always agree with his interpretations, but jeez, at least he has interpretations to agree or disagree with.

OK, rant over. *retreats behind flame-proof armor*

January 28, 2007 at 03:06 AM · Toni, I think you are missing out when it comes (came) to Mozart's 205th. Where I live, the symphony did some all Mozart programs to celebrate, the place I work at held a student recital where students all performed works by Mozart, stories about Mozart and the pieces being performed were told and at the end of it all, the famous Mozartkuglen were handed out to the performers and helpers. In Vancouver I attended a film as part of the Vancouver International Film Fest which if I recall was also screened at the Toronto film fest that was in celebration of Mozart's 250th - a film called "Mozartballs" which everyone should check out - it was hilarious!! It has Steven Isserlis in it but focuses on a few different individuals and how Mozart has influenced their lives and in two of their cases is their lives.

I don't think 2006 was really that big of a failure in classical music, not in Canada anyways. The contrary was true for a lot of places here. One concert I attended in the fall had the largest audience that that concert presenter had had in years.

January 29, 2007 at 02:02 PM · Toni is my mother this is her son Lewis I keep on trying to chang the profile but for some strange reason it will not allow me to,but interesting point you have there.

January 29, 2007 at 03:14 PM · Lewis, why not just create a new profile, your own profile? You can log out from you mom's account and log into your own. Then people will stop calling you Toni.

January 29, 2007 at 03:59 PM · This comment raises some interesting issues, though I really don't think the Classical music scene can be judged within the parameters of popular culture. Album sales and the recording industry are also not necessarily a reflection of the health of classical music. And regarding the Mozart anniversary last year, I can only say that all across the globe in many small towns and large cities, Mozart was performed quite frequently. I'm not sure it's as easy to make a big deal of a Mozart anniversary because his music is so amazing that we always program it anyway, but there were lots of All-Mozart programs last year all over the world as part of the celebration. In fact, I think the way in which we acknowledged last year's Mozart anniversary is what makes me so fond of my field; Nothing really glitzy or ostentatious, but an ongoing nod to his music over the course of the entire season. Hearing a composer's work in cycles, over longer timespans...I think there may not be any better way of celebrating the artist.

Finally. American culture? Such a comment confuses me. Historically, there are always elements of society that do not search for or demand high art. In fact, many of our beloved composers have been obsessed with music as it exists in a raw, "uncultured" form. Even now, artists like Steve Reich have made careers by using material from our daily, "base" culture and turning it into meaningful artistic expression. And to go further, I think the name "Different Trains" is as good as any non-classical title for an album or piece of music.

Just last week, I was at a performance of the Takacs Quartet at the Met Museum in New York. In the seat next to me was a smart and intelligent young woman who had been to visit the museum earlier that day. During her visit, she had seen a sign advertising the concert for later that evening. Having made no concrete plans, she decided that attending that concert would be a good way to spend Friday night. Incidentally, the quartet's program of Debussy, Shostakovich, and Beethoven was radiant, and I think this young woman was very glad to have attended.

Before we start criticizing popular culture, which will always be popular culture, no matter the era, we should reflect meaningfully on what type of role we would like the "classical music" world to play while we are a part of society. I agree--I think reality tv is disgusting--but we also are part of society in which music and art is encouraged, and even honored, if tacitly or sub-consciously. Much better this way, then to be stamped out be idealogues or ministers of culture, don't you think?

January 31, 2007 at 11:07 AM · I don't know...someone correct me please if i'm wrong...but is it just me or do other people find the current rock/popular music (as heard on the radio and TV) rather pale, insipid, and...how does one say it? -- totally lacking in gorm (whatever gorm is but it sounds good).

Maybe classical ticket sales are looking up slightly because lost souls from rock etc are wandring along the musical path, lost and disillusioned with all the current junk music they hear. Suddenly, afar off, they hear the siren call of a symphony orchestra calling to them from the open door of a concert hall. They wander over for a curious look and listen.

January 31, 2007 at 01:53 PM · Well,

I hope 2007 brings me tickets to at least 1 opera!!

They are always sold out.

Well, there has been a lot of Mozart not only here, but the very well produced BBC Radio and TV programmes, that were available over the Internet, were always enjoyable.

In 2007 I shall look forward to hearing Julia Fischer, Radu Lupu and aatending the Musika-Musica festival in Bilbao (La Folle Journée in Nantes): I think this year the festival is dedicated to Grieg, Faure, Tchaikosky, Dvorak, Debussy & de Falla: should be good!

Meanwhile, saw Pan's Labyrinth last night and am still recovering from that; recommend it one and all, as long as you are over 18.

January 31, 2007 at 03:40 PM · I also just saw Pan's Labyrinth. :) Great movie, highly recommended. Nice musical score too.

Jon--no kidding! Popular music today is so bad, it's not even good enough to be "so bad it's good". I'm hoping for a revival of old folk music (hey, it happened in Budapest), but not going to hold my breath.

What d'you all think about the fate of the avant-garde this coming years? Actually, what do you think of the avant-garde in general?

February 1, 2007 at 08:15 PM · Just a comment on popular music--remember that there's been lots of time to "filter" music from the Romantic era back. There's a lot of pretty insipid classical music too, it just doesn't tend to get performed any more! I think, 100 years from now, we'd find that the worst of today's popular music is forgotten in CD libraries, while the best are considered the "classics" of the time.

February 1, 2007 at 09:35 PM · Let's just hope pop rap and hip hop keep getting worse and worse so that people can start running to classical music like moths to a flame.

And if I ever become a billionaire (won't happen) I am going to donate as much money as possible to the development and forwarding of classical music in all countries.

February 2, 2007 at 04:41 AM · I can't believe no one's brought up Vanessa Mae yet.

February 2, 2007 at 05:03 AM · Vanessa Mae is going to try to revive her career by appearing at the Super Bowl with nothing on but nipple tassels.

February 2, 2007 at 05:49 AM · did she borrow yours?

February 2, 2007 at 06:01 AM · OOOOoooooh.....ten points to Buri!

February 2, 2007 at 06:43 AM · Stephen...

We were supposed to keep that between us.

But, if you want to hang our dirty laundry in public, I'll tell everyone what you can do with a hoola hoop.

February 2, 2007 at 07:19 AM · I'm surprised that vanessa mae isn't appearing only in Buri's Prune bikini

February 2, 2007 at 07:50 PM · Hey I finally changed my profile.

February 2, 2007 at 08:43 PM · I agree with you Nick, but the question remains...did you get her phone number? ;-)

February 2, 2007 at 10:30 PM · You know, I have to wonder what it is in today's musical tastes which seems to want to "equalize" everybody. Turning on the radio, one seems to hear a lot of the same violinist by a thousand different names.

I've recently heard Shlomo Mintz playing several different styles of music... what fabulous playing! I'm wondering why the US Orchestras are letting him play mainly everywhere else in the world other than the US? I can only think it has something to do with this infatuation with sameness going on right now. There are other artists of real depth and interest out there, too. Maybe we need to reorder our values. After all, change starts from within our own "family" of artists. Maybe if violinists tried to remain true to the larger art, and pay less homage to the likes and dislikes of managements and promoters... (we would all starve)...but...we might have some interesting playing going on outside the present margins.

Note to my students; the above pertains to you AFTER you graduate from my class. Right now, I still know best! ;-)

February 2, 2007 at 11:47 PM · I like what you're saying, Mr. Russell! Personally, I wish we'd hear more "obscure" concertos/sonatas (like the stuff Bram collects) along with the great old warhorses.

February 3, 2007 at 01:12 AM · Hi,

Mr. Russell, legend has it that Mr. Mintz's fate in the USA is bound to one name: Isaac Stern.

Cheers!

February 5, 2007 at 04:47 AM · >After all, change starts from within our own "family" of artists. Maybe if violinists tried to remain true to the larger art, and pay less homage to the likes and dislikes of managements and promoters... (we would all starve)...but...we might have some interesting playing going on outside the present margins.

David, I like what you said here - appreciating, as well, that you added what you did in the parentheses. It is the perfect conundrum, isn't it? Prevalent in all the arts. Probably in all of life, where youthful idealism finally meets adult realism and most people are forced to make some difficult choices. Sell out, or stay true, and go down kicking. Of course, I like to think there's a middle ground, and most of us here have found it. But, as you said, what a wonderful world, if we all decided to think and act outside the box and stay true to art. Ah, what a wonderful world. (I think Louis Armstrong had something to say about that.)

Regardless, always nice to hear your wisdom here, David.

And speaking of Louis, Lewis - so happy to see that you've "come out" as yourself!

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