Classical music is dying.The fundamental problem is a lack of contemporary emotionally compelling compositions,because listeners get no emotional reward from most contemporary classical music ,orchestras are forced to repeat a small number of compositions from the distant past,and as each year passes the standard repertoire becomes less and less relevant to a contemporary the audience for classical music continues to shrink. traditional music education for composers is part of the problem engendering, snobbery ,elitism and a cold unemotional approach to music composition.l believe that the situation is so bad that only a movement from outside the traditional music institutions (l call this the deinstitutionalization of classical music)can save classical music from oblivion. ps .for more information on this topic go to my website

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  • 'Art for art's sake' is a well known apopthegm the idea of which was created firstly by Edgar Alan Poe who argues in his essay The Poetic Principle (1850):

    We have taken it into our heads that to write a poem simply for the poem's sake [...] and to acknowledge such to have been our design, would be to confess ourselves radically wanting in the true poetic dignity and force: – but the simple fact is that would we but permit ourselves to look into our own souls we should immediately there discover that under the sun there neither exists nor can exist any work more thoroughly dignified, more supremely noble, than this very poem, this poem per se, this poem which is a poem and nothing more, this poem written solely for the poem's sake.

    IMO There is always room and should always be room for the human soul to indulge itself in this way - I personally don't give a damn about writing music to please other people - the fact that I have sold thousands of copies of sheet music is an added bonus for which I'm extremely grateful, but I write my music from within - it's something I feel I have to do and from which I receive great satisfaction. Art for art's sake is a deeply philosophical construct (that should never be tainted by elements of commercialism), indeed I consider such enterprise to be entirely pure and as close to the very core of humanity as one can get.

  • Bob,

    I don't believe for half a second that you're not smart enough to understand what Poe is saying - you're one of the smartest contributors to this forum. Also, I don't really think you believe I'm being selfish when responding to an inner compulsion to compose...a compulsion is a compulsion is get my point.

    Yes, much music in the past has been commissioned - some of Beethoven's foulest works ('The Battle of Waterloo' for instance) were written when he was short of a few bucks and needed money fast. There was a commercial imperative there and he didn't have the time or the inclination to search his inner self and produce something worthwhile. I suppose it isn't dissimilar to the current film music writer's thoughts: 'Do you want it good or do you want it by Friday?

    When I am (rarely) commissioned to compose a specific piece I won't do it to a deadline - my response has always been and will always be - 'you will have it when you have it and not before'...I am musically blinded when I have pound/dollar signs hanging over me. C'est la vie.

  • Bob, I think we essentially agree with each other, even if we don't realize it. I think we are all too familiar with "bad art" (whatever the definition may be). When I referred to "art for its own sake", I did not have in mind "mindless" or "meaningless" or however you may describe "bad art". What I was trying to say, which I apparently worded very poorly, was that art extends beyond the confines of the world as we know it. While much good art is tied to the human experience and the world around us, I argue that there also exists art which lies beyond -- art that is beautiful not because of its depiction of the real world, nor of an imagined world, not because it reflects some aspect of the human experience, nor anything we may relate to humanly, but because of its own internal consistency and inherent symmetry. Much like the facets of a highly-symmetrical crystal that draws one to admire it for a long time, from every angle, this kind of art exists in the abstract, bearing no relation to the real world or any imagined world, yet it draws the same kind of admiration and gazing at it (or listening to it, or experiencing it, etc.) because it possesses a kind of abstract beauty that is unique to itself, with each part skillfully crafted to complement every other part.

  • That's kinda why I made my house 'multi- fauceted".  :-)

  • yeah, Roseanne singing the National Anthem

    or any episode of The Gong Show.

    maybe it should be called awful art instead of bad art.

    there is also the idea of 'Art' for the artless; they need a

    culture too. Not to be a snob, but we all have our own

    tastes and only you know what appeals to you and speaks

    to your sense of what is Art and what does'nt make the grade.

    I've always been comfortable with the notion of 'live and let live',

    everyone is really an entirely different universe. and it amazes me that

    we are able to communicate at all. #@)*&!3   say what   lol          RS

  • That is why I do not consider international acclaim, or popularity, or acceptance by others, a proper criterion for good art. You probably already know of countless examples of so-called "art", that, in the eyes of an intelligent but unbiased observer, is pure garbage, to put it mildly.

    And I was using the crystal metaphorically, not literally. Obviously, a piece of natural crystal isn't "art", since it's produced by nature. But I was alluding to that abstract beauty or inherent symmetry that draws one to gaze at it for hours. I mean, objectively speaking, it's just a piece of rock, and chemically speaking, a rather uninteresting piece of rock (mostly silicon dioxide with some impurities that grant it some pretty colors). Yet there is something about its regular, symmetrical shape that draws, and holds, one's attention.

    Of course, in this case this symmetry is produced by nature, but it is possible to artificially create works that exhibit an analogous kind of internal beauty -- and I don't mean physical imitations of crystals; it can be something more abstract, like music, that exhibits an internal consistency and inner beauty that draws the listener to listen to it again and again, even though it has no direct bearing to the real world. Or an intricate carving of a shape that, despite bearing no resemblance whatsoever to anything remotely near our human experience, nevertheless exhibits an abstract beauty that draws one's attention to it. Such works may be completely abstract, outside of ordinary human experience, and have no bearing on the world we live in, but can we truly discount them from being a  work of art simply because we're unable to relate to it?

  • This is exactly why I left academia. I wouldn't exactly say it's dying. The composers thriving are the ones writing interesting music that is also compelling to someone other than other composers.

  • Some art is not very good, including soup cans and music with no sound. Striving to create good art is a good and noble venture. Most of us will fail at this task, but that does not detract from the nobleness of the attempt.

    Bob Porter said:

    But is there such a thing as "bad art"? To me, the internationally acclaimed painting of a soup can that I always bring up, is bad art. Someone covers themselves in paint and rolls around on a canvas, and this is acclaimed as "good art". A child does something that looks very similar, and they are not taken seriously at all. Someone performs 3 minutes of silence, and it is considered genius.

  • Bob,
    I just didn't want to work in that bubble.


    Bob Porter said:

    But doesn't part of the art for arts sake syndrome deal with there being no bad art?

    " music, that exhibits an internal consistency and inner beauty that draws the listener to listen to it again and again, even though it has no direct bearing to the real world"

    This is over my pay grade. There is no piece of music like this. And how can something created in the real world have no bearing to that world?

    " Such works may be completely abstract, outside of ordinary human experience, and have no bearing on the world we live in, but can we truly discount them from being a  work of art simply because we're unable to relate to it?"

    Again, I need a example. It's pretty hard to define a rock as anything but....a rock. But art? There seems to be no end to the long shadow that word casts. The thing is, though: While I pretty much have to accept the definition of a rock. I get to reject "art" that I don't like. It's OK to like ,or not like art.  


    There are plenty of reasons to leave academia. Which one are you referring to? Oh, you mean like professors who are able to write abstract stuff because they don't have to support themselves with their compositions.

    the reason why classical music is dying
     Classical music is dying.The fundamental problem is a lack of contemporary emotionally compelling compositions,because listeners get no emotional re…
  • Of course "Classical Music" is not dying.  More classical music of every type, from every era, is available to more people than ever before in human history.


    I think Tyler's arguments are completely cogent and to the point.


    There are other issues, however.


    One of the reasons the concert halls are not "full"  (assuming that is a problem) is because people cannot afford the tickets; and why should they pay money when they cannot afford it and when there are other ways of listening to all sorts of music? 


    Income inequality is increasing rapidly throughout the advanced and most economically developed countries.  Even if more people were better able to afford to attend live concerts of contemporary classical music in droves, why should they?  There is so much available on the web, just on YouTube, in contemporary and modern "art music" (classical music) that paying for tickets is simply a waste of money for most people, even for many devout music lovers.


    Now I would guess that people on the "Composers' Forum" all enjoy going to a concert hall, downtown or on a University Campus, in order to hear performances of Baroque Music or Post-Ultra Modern debuts.  But given transportation costs, time consumed, and the price of tickets, how often do we decide to listen to something available on the Internet for free, or to work on our own compositions, simply because we have a wider selection that way, or more freedom?


    I think Fredrick poses some key questions:


    "Attendance at live performances of “serious” music or any music for that matter, declines when the music is perceived as irrelevant to the context of the lives of the listeners.


    "How does one measure the relevance of a new composition? I would suggest that music be subject to the following test. Look at YOUR latest composition and see if you can answer these questions:


    "What problem does this music solve?


    "What emotions does it evoke?

    "Are there other compositions that solve that problem or evoke those emotions more effectively?"


    These are among the most important questions a composer asks, and I think they should be posed independently from the question "What should be done to prevent the death of classical music?"  That latter question appears to me to be a meaningless one.


    Consider these groups of music lovers:


    A.  The same people and same types of people who like Bach, Beethoven and Mozart will continue to do so (regardless of how full the concert halls are).


    B. The same people who like Stravinsky, Bartok and Prokofiev will also continue to do so. 


    C.  And so will those who like the more harmonically adventurous music of microtonal, pantonal and omnitonalist composers.


    I am reasonably sure that those who appreciate C are a smaller subset of B and A, while those who appreciate B are subset of those who appreciate A.


    Stockhausen is never likely to be as "popular" as Bartok, and Bartok will never be as popular as Mozart.  


    The question of "filling" the halls, and the question of "popularity," is extremely irrelevant to the issue of the "survival" of classical music, which is not dying.  It is simply developing and changing, as it always has done.  The most recent pop icon will always fill more halls.  Genuine classical composers will have their works evaluated over time according to a wide variety of criteria. 


    Even within the society of "those who listen to classical music," the Light Cavalry Overture is more popular than the best works by Mahler, Schoenberg, Luigi Nono and Bruno Maderna.   Now there are Internet stations that simply play pantonal music all the time, and stations that play "the Boston Pops."  Each variety will find its own outlet and a niche will exist for every genre, style and degree of "contemporaneity."


    Lennart says, "In my opinion what is lacking in contemporary classic music is melody! Everything is mood and rhythmic based."


    I am not sure that is a problem, even if it were true.  I think only a few people here could compellingly hum a tune from a Beethoven String Quartet (except a tune from one of the Razumovsky Quartets, perhaps).  The "melody" is only one small part of what constitutes great classical music (unless one thinks that Tchaikovsky is the greatest composer who ever lived). 


    Socrates raises another issue:


    "Turning the thought to another direction I would say that old audiences have died or have been manipulated to become unrecognizable and new ones have been created to buy new cultural products which are not necessarily created by creators but by capitalists and impresarios.

    So the question goes far deeper for me: Who creates/manipulates human societies and what can be done about it?  My basic thought/answer is that it should all be part of a global effort of resistance, revival and social revolution and arts have a roll to play in it as they have done in the past."


    And this is all very much to the point.  If our tastes, attitudes, and modes of appropriating art (or what passes for art) are corrupted by a consumerist society, then all aspects of aesthetics have to be re-evaluated and re-fashioned, and that is the job of philosophers and social reformers.  Complaining about Ferneyhough won't help.


    Tyler says a great deal worthy of consideration.  He was at his best when he observed,


    "When Classical music is operated as a charity, musicians are force to plead their case to the super wealthy among all the other charities such as Cancer Research and Saving Children in Third World Countries. Back in the golden age of classical music, it was the only charity … Now they have to compete, and they are doing a really bad job at that. I advocate this truth because if we just sit back and blame contemporary composers, we only shoot ourselves in the foot."


    And his solution, if I understand it, is even more apropos:  Write the music you love to write, in accordance with your highest principles.

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