New York Times readers debate “death of classical music”

Posted on: November 26, 2012

A letter published in the November 16 New York Times by retired Metropolitan Opera Orchestra violinist Les Dreyer elicited several responses, which were published on Sunday, November 25. Dreyer writes, “A schoolboy recently asked me if Richard Wagner was a pitcher for the Yankees. At that moment I feared that classical music in America was doomed. … There is a glimmer of hope that classical music can be saved. The New York Philharmonic has just announced a partnership with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. The Metropolitan Opera introduced live telecasts of its performances nationwide. New venues are springing up to accommodate the excellent classical ensembles and soloists emerging from music conservatories. … The future of classical music lies with the younger generation, which must be weaned away from the cacophony of rock and the neon glitter of ‘American Idol’-type TV shows.” Some respondents point out that even older generations seem less interested, having grown up on rock ‘n’ roll; another suggests that classical’s lack of overt emotiveness makes it less appealing. One reader suggests that classical music isn’t dying, it’s evolving, while ICSOM Chairman Bruce Ridge echoes, “There are far more orchestras working in harmony than struggling through contractual disputes.” Utah Symphony Principal Librarian Clovis Clark believes “classical music can exist alongside and in spite of [pop entertainment], but it must present itself as equally relevant to potential listeners. … It is up to performers and managements to convincingly give these compositions a place in great society.”

Posted November 26, 2012