Does contemporary American culture value classical music?

Posted on: December 8, 2010

In Sunday’s (12/5) Denver Post, Kyle MacMillan writes the first article in a three-part series about the future of classical music: “In the first half of the 20th century, keyboard giant Sergei Rachmaninoff played to sold-out houses across the United States, and conductor Arturo Toscanini lit up the radio airwaves with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Leonard Bernstein followed along in the 1950s and ‘60s, bringing the New York Philharmonic into American homes with his televised Young People’s Concerts while soprano Maria Callas was a hot topic for gossip magazines. … But a decade into the 21st century, those days are all but over. … The specter of a declining place in American culture has hung over classical music for decades, but the threat has become more urgent now. One big reason: A National Endowment for the Arts study found that just 9 percent of the American public attended at least one classical concert in 2008—a nearly one-third drop from 1982. … Aggravating the situation is a stubborn reluctance among many entrenched institutions to acknowledge the severity of the predicament facing the classical world—and an accompanying belief that a few tweaks will set things right. … Some orchestras, for example, have experimented with big-screen projections, cheaper tickets and narrated programs, but there is little evidence those changes alone will make a fundamental difference.”

Posted December 8, 2010