Opinion: “Enough with the anniversaries”

Posted on: September 19, 2013

On Sunday (9/15) at her blog “Lies Like Truth,” Chloe Veltman writes about the common practice in classical music of highlighting important birth and death anniversaries of composers. “No one in the classical music realm bats an eyelid when people speak of it being ‘a Britten/Wagner/Verdi,’ etc., year. But if you think about it, the phrase is slightly ridiculous and meaningless to anyone who doesn’t operate within the classical music realm. Describing a particular year is ‘a Britten year’ doesn’t explain to anyone without a specialized knowledge that you’re talking about an anniversary. This is yet another way in which classical music-oriented artists and organizations distance themselves from the general public. And here’s an even more fundamental problem I have with the notion of it being ‘a [insert name of composer] year’: With the possible exception of major news events like 9/11, I’ve never thought much of anniversaries as being a good enough excuse for media organizations to make a fuss. … Focusing on the past is a surefire way to ossify the art form. Surely there are more creative and relevant ways to put composers’ work in perspective than their anniversaries?”

Posted September 19, 2013