Suppose you attended the next super bowl.  The announcer comes on and says, "We are sorry to imform you that this year's teams did not meet our expectations so instead of playing an actual game, they will be reenacting the 1969 Super Bowl between the Chiefs and the Vikings.  After all that was the greatest super bowl ever."  We might expect that classical music fans would not be offended, since at nearly every concert they attend, they listen to a reenactment of a concert 200 to 400 years old.  Maybe that is why attendance at an NFL game is about 70,000 and about 1000 at a classical music concert.

     A few weeks ago Bob Porter posted a piece that vividly portrayed his ordeal of moving to California.  Was it interesting?  Yes.  Was it entertaining?  Yes.  Was it new?  Yes.  Will it fill concert hall seats? 

There is only one was to find out.

     These are the criterion we should use in determining what music to perform.  Not, "Is it better than Beethover."  Until the attitudes of symphony directors and boards of directors change will we see classical music languish in mediocrity.

Lawrence Aurich

 

This piece was long, so is posted in two halves.  All comments are welcome, about the music or the rant.

Marcia Moderato.pdf

Marcia Moderato second half.mp3

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  • "Suppose you attended the next super bowl.  The announcer comes on and says, "We are sorry to imform you that this year's teams did not meet our expectations so instead of playing an actual game, they will be reenacting the 1969 Super Bowl between the Chiefs and the Vikings.  After all that was the greatest super bowl ever.""

    --- So you go to a concert of a contemporary composer with new pieces never performed before, the announcer comes and says 'We're going to listen to Beethoven's 5th, this composer did not meet our expectations so instead of his concert you'll be hearing Beethoven's 5th. After all that is the greatest concert [sic to analogy] ever'.

    In general, musicians would find it a nuisance that the concert for which they paid is suddenly changed. They didn't pay for that.

    You are saying the NFL attendance is way higher than that of classical music is because they continue to do something new. How do you know the attendance is way higher BECAUSE they do something new, and not because of something else? Even if that was true, they are doing sports and not a concert. Those are two different concepts.

    Second point,

    Was Stravinsky better than Beethoven? Both incomparable AND subject to the listener's experience and opinion. People don't listen to new music and ask themselves: 'Is this better than Beethoven?'. They ask themselves: do I like this? That is the attitude of a director or whatever.

    Third point,

    I can conclude from your rant that the youth doesn't listen to symphonic music because it's not new but repetition of 300 year old music. It's exactly the other way around: the youth dislikes contemporary experimental music, unless it's Yiruma or Einaudi and in that case they listen to it over - and - over - again. So the problem of the attendance of concerts is not in the repertoire. Bob also gives a nice speculation/assumption on what IS the problem.

    What you seem to be saying is: This is new music [so it should have as much attendance as NFL], it's not better than Beethoven [that's not the criterion so that doesn't matter] SO this piece must be good and there are no arguments to say it is not.

  • Douwe,

         There are many more differences between the NFL and classical music than a new repertoire, and I will address those differences soon.  In essence you have a successful entertainment organization and a failing one.  Classical music has much to learn from the NFL.
         Your second point is the same as mine.  By restricting classical music programs to old music, directors are not letting the public choose music they prefer.  It is the directors who compare everything to Beethoven and add all kinds of superficial criterion when their only worry should be, will it be sufficiently enjoyable and entertaining to attract listeners.  The  ultimate decision about the worth of a piece of music should be made by the public.
    Douwe Ziel said:

    "Suppose you attended the next super bowl.  The announcer comes on and says, "We are sorry to imform you that this year's teams did not meet our expectations so instead of playing an actual game, they will be reenacting the 1969 Super Bowl between the Chiefs and the Vikings.  After all that was the greatest super bowl ever.""

    --- So you go to a concert of a contemporary composer with new pieces never performed before, the announcer comes and says 'We're going to listen to Beethoven's 5th, this composer did not meet our expectations so instead of his concert you'll be hearing Beethoven's 5th. After all that is the greatest concert [sic to analogy] ever'.

    In general, musicians would find it a nuisance that the concert for which they paid is suddenly changed. They didn't pay for that.

    You are saying the NFL attendance is way higher than that of classical music is because they continue to do something new. How do you know the attendance is way higher BECAUSE they do something new, and not because of something else? Even if that was true, they are doing sports and not a concert. Those are two different concepts.

    Second point,

    Was Stravinsky better than Beethoven? Both incomparable AND subject to the listener's experience and opinion. People don't listen to new music and ask themselves: 'Is this better than Beethoven?'. They ask themselves: do I like this? That is the attitude of a director or whatever.

    Third point,

    I can conclude from your rant that the youth doesn't listen to symphonic music because it's not new but repetition of 300 year old music. It's exactly the other way around: the youth dislikes contemporary experimental music, unless it's Yiruma or Einaudi and in that case they listen to it over - and - over - again. So the problem of the attendance of concerts is not in the repertoire. Bob also gives a nice speculation/assumption on what IS the problem.

    What you seem to be saying is: This is new music [so it should have as much attendance as NFL], it's not better than Beethoven [that's not the criterion so that doesn't matter] SO this piece must be good and there are no arguments to say it is not.

  • Kristofer,

         What if Beethoven were alive today and by some miracle, directors were playing his new music?  What if he arrived by limo, eluded the poperazzi, appeared on stage in tuxedo, and addressed the fawning public at each debut of his next symphony.  He would probably be as popular as Lady Gag a.  I'm starting to think Bob is right about media hype.  But you have to  have a live breathing composer to hype.

         Is the degeneration of American music a symptom of the demise of American culture, especially the youth?  Kristofer, you're starting to sound as cynical as Bob.  We're going to turn this battleship around.  I hope.

    Lawrence

          

        

    Kristofer Emerig said:

    The one glaring oversight that pervades this whole argument, and many others on the is forum, seems to be the inability to distinguish between individual, personal experience, and collective, historical experience.

     

    Firstly, when Beethoven is performed in 2013, it is not a couple of centuries old, but in the present. The abstract fact that it was written so many years ago is information completely outside of the listener's experience and known only academically. How this rather clinical fact would impinge upon the listeners experience I can not fathom. Would it sound, or substantially be, any different were it revealed that it had been written just a few weeks ago? Would hearing Mozart's 25th Symphony for the 100th time be less fatiguing to your ear in 1790 than in 1990?

     

    If our collective, societal ear is fatigued by any given style, it should logically be the one that's predominant in the present. That to which history has been exposed simply has no relevance in the matter. Youth today don't listen to Beethoven because it's passe? they've just had too much of it? They've been more inundated with the hip hop sound, in my estimation, and that seems to be selling. How many minutes, on average, has the average 18 year old today spent listening to Beethoven? Can anyone seriously posit the argument that they are simply fatigued with Beethoven's sound?

     

    Because history has been subjected to several centuries of IV-V-I maneuvers, it does not follow that any individual alive today has personally experienced the same. In fact, I defy anyone to provide demonstrable proof that they've been subjected to that progression any greater number of times than has a musician in 1750.

     

    I've got a theory for you. Youth today don't line up to see a performance of Beethoven because they've been well conditioned, by the propa-media disseminated by a consortium of corporatist, into a class of mindless, plastic consuming, egocentric zombies who lack the character and soul necessary to appreciate Beethoven. Cynical? Yep, but I suspect my answer's closer to the heart of the matter than the others presented here.

  • Bob,

         There you go all skeptical again.  We'll get back to this at a later date.  Have to listen to some new posts and as always plug away at composing.  Keep a song in your heart, yada yada.

    Larry

    Bob Porter said:

    Lawrence

    I don't think anyone here thinks of Star Wars as stand alone music. And it wasn't in this case, either. There was action on the stage that went along with the music. It was a concert aimed at kids. Trying to expose them to the orchestra. Switched On Bach and Hooked On Classics where all great attempts to expose more people to classical type music. But they were not sustainable attempts. The fact remains that classical music never was intended for great numbers of people. You can't make a sows ear out of a silk purse.

  • Bob,

          Computers make it easier, but I was writing music several years before music programs.  The computer has made me a better composer.  The population is 10 times larger now than 100 years ago.  We should be producing 10 times the amount of classical music, and some of it should be better than in the past.  Who cares if the music lasts.  I would rather be heard now, not 100 years after my death.  Symphonic music may be passe only because of the visual fixation of the culture caused by TV and movies.   I may not be able to define classical music, but I know it when I hear it.  Classical is the most interesting, intellectual ,and satisfying of all music. Bob, you should be writing musicals.  Thanks for your insight.

    Lawrence

    Bob Porter said:

    Something else that occurs to me is that it is all too easy for us wannabies with a computer to jump in and produce what we like to think is good music. Most of the classical music that has survived took a great deal of time to craft. Composers studied music. Studied composition. Studied each other. Many today whip out stuff without any training or skill. Much of it is good, though not very innovative. Will any of these pieces last? Heck most classical music hasn't lasted. Only time will tell. As you recall, many composers had trouble being accepted in their own time.

    We may lament the fact that very little that is New or Innovative is being produced. But I don't think we know what that means. What is new? Under what circumstances do you write something new? Do you write for movies, cartoons, games, documentaries, or some as yet uninvented medium? Is writing for concert orchestra still a way to go?

     

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