Classical music’s red-blue partisan divide

Posted on: January 5, 2010

Tuesday (1/5) on her Washington Post blog Classical Beat, Anne Midgette writes, “Is it possible to talk about ‘red states’ and ‘blue states’ without appearing to exercise a value judgment? It strikes me that there are clear ‘red states’ and ‘blue states’ in the classical music world, but when I say that I don’t want to appear to prioritize one above the other. The red states are those who love the classical tradition with a deep passion. They understand the need for contemporary music and revitalization, and subject themselves to it with a dutiful sense of obedience, and are happy when they hear something they like. But their real love lies with the mainstream canon: Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and all the byways and tributaries of that stream. … The blue states love classical music no less. But they worry that it’s dying out because it is so entrenched in the past. Meanwhile, all kinds of new movements, ideas, and musics are springing up. The blue states want to encourage this new growth, and ideally to see it better incorporated into the mainstream classical tradition (read: orchestras, opera houses, major chamber presenters). … It’s striking that the question of what it means to tend or further tradition (is ‘tradition’ offering a faithful rendition of a Mozart sonata, or the tradition of composers writing and performing new works, of which Mozart himself was a part?) remains so puzzling, to the point of appearing insoluble.”

Posted January 5, 2010