As he prepares to step down, NY Times’ Tommasini on what should and shouldn’t change about classical music

Posted on: December 20, 2021

“For more than three decades as a critic, I’ve shared my passion for classical music,” writes Anthony Tommasini in Friday’s (12/17) New York Times shortly before stepping down after 21 years as the Times’ chief classical music critic. “I’ve also expressed frustrations with the field. Of all the performing arts, mine has been the most conservative, the most stuck in a core repertory of works from the distant past. Major orchestras and opera companies must make fostering relationships with living composers a top priority, and work harder to empower female and minority artists. Institutions need to find more effective ways to connect with their diverse communities…. So what things about classical music shouldn’t change? … The staples are often staples for good reasons…. That said, the concept of the ‘standard repertory’ will continue to sap the vitality of music until it is understood [that] … if music is to have a bright future, as well as a storied history, today’s composers … will take us there. What else about the field should be cherished? The sheer, splendid sound of music…. A vibrant orchestra performing in a fine hall…. The … spaces where classical works are ideally performed are precious preserves of natural acoustics.”