If you’ve been around this blog a while, you may remember that I linked to an article analyzing the unpopularity of modern classical music a few months ago. I just came across another interesting piece analyzing the economics of classical music production that I thought I’d share with you.
The article is titled “Why Do We Hate Modern Classical Music?” The author, Robert Blumen, explores the tendency of modernist composers and conductors to attribute the unpopularity of contemporary classical music to audience philistinism. He relates an anecdote about a music director on a radio program who answered a caller’s question about the necessity of programming music that sounds like automobile accidents by saying, “Sir, you’re living in the wrong century.”
Meanwhile, composers like John Williams and Howard Shore, who write melodic music people actually like to hear, are derided by the modernist elites who control arts funding in most government-sponsored agencies.
Blumen concludes that modernism in music is not “here to stay” as many composers assume; there is no reason to take its permanence in the musical landscape for granted. In fact, if state support for such music ended tomorrow, this genre would probably die a rapid and unlamented death. A change in the source of funding for classical music would result in new compositions that people like, rather than the commissioned works of today that are almost always only performed once.
Also see the comments section at the bottom of Blumen’s article for some interesting discussion.