I personally don't believe that there is a right wrong answer to any of these question, just curious as to what you, my colleges, feel on this topic.
The role of the composer in society has changed considerably since Mozart's and Haydn's time. From conversations I have had with various composers through out my compositional career one might get the impression that it has gone either for the better or the has gotten worse since the 1700s. With the rise in independent thinking among the art community at the turn of the 20th century, we left the common practice period behind. And with the rise experimentalist composers also left the idea of pleasing the masses behind. Thus the role of the composer changed from some kind of entertainer or servant ordered to make music for various events to almost an independent artist of some kind. Composers still, however, find ourselves in a patronage like system whether it be working on film scores, popular music, ect. And from what I have gathered from these conversations there are very mixed feelings about this.
On the one hand, there is much opposition to writing music that appeases a mass public, regardless of the manner the music was composed be it film or concert. The audience should not a factor in the compositional process.
And on the other hand there is much opposition to music that isn't public friendly be it opposition to atonal music to complete denunciation of experimental music to be considered music. They feel that music is for the enjoyment of an audience and if you fail at that then you have failed as a composer.
So I ask you directly....
As a composer what do you feel your role in society is? What do you think any composer's in general role in society is, if there is one?
Discuss composer place in society:
Here are a few optional questions that I would like you to think about while you post to this topic;
Who do we write our music for?
Is it selfish to write for ourselves in a musical language all our own?
Is it wrong to write in a musical style that isnt accessible to the general public or the common man?
As composers, are we the suppliers of new music to the world much like a chef is to food, entertainers of the public, or artist for ourselves and who ever might fancy us, and why?
Here is an interesting lecture on this topic with a different spin that might help you understand kind of the direction I trying to lean the topic to:
The Role of the Composer in Contemporary society