Classical music not dead yet: “The New Yorker” responds to “Slate”

Posted on: January 30, 2014

In an article posted Wednesday (1/29) on The New Yorker’s online Culture Desk, William Robin writes, “ ‘Classical music in America is dead.’ Those words rang out across the Internet last week; their source, a Slate article written by Mark Vanhoenacker, complete with a gravestone illustration and the hoary cliché of the singing fat lady. It was nothing we hadn’t read before, but the timing of the latest obituary was particularly strange. Yes, New York City Opera folded last fall. But, a week before the Slate piece appeared, the Minnesota Orchestra emerged from a fifteen-month lockout crisis, and the day after publication the New York Philharmonic and Seattle Symphony announced energetic 2014-15 seasons.… There is a creepy bloodlust to the doom-mongering of classical music, as though an autopsy were being conducted on a still-breathing body. What if each commentator decided, instead, to Google ‘young composer’ or ‘new chamber ensemble’ and write a compelling profile of a discovery? Why not interview members of the local orchestra and find out how real people make careers in a purportedly comatose industry? … Instead, classical-music concern-trolls toss poorly aimed barbs.… The doomsayers also like to cherry-pick a few crisis-ridden institutions and use them to generalize about the art form itself. Classical music is the sum of all its institutions, performers, and listeners, plus a thousand-year-old cultural lineage.”

Posted January 30, 2014

Infographic: By Andy Doe/ for The New Yorker