One thing is certain: Music has a future
A departing critic argues for its staying power
By Richard Dyer, Globe Staff | September 24, 2006
One of the questions a retiring music critic is most often asked is about what kind of future music is going to have , or even whether classical music will have a future.
There is only one answer: No one can say what the future of music will be, but that music will have a future is certain.
We’ve heard from the doomsayers for decades, and they aren’t entirely wrong. There’s no doubt that this is a difficult moment for classical music. We know that the financial situation of many orchestras, opera companies, and smaller ensembles is perilous, support is drying up, the public is graying, and nobody is buying subscriptions anymore.
Part of the public is understandably bored by the endless repetition of core masterpieces that weren’t meant to be heard as often as they are, weren’t intended to lapse into routine. Another part of the public is resolutely opposed to anything new in music, no matter how much they welcome or even seek out innovation and change in the other arts. And the whole mess, we hear, is the fault of the schools, which are not educating new audiences, and of the media, which are more interested in sensation than in substance.
This is not the whole story of course, but one wonders if the situation has ever been much different. All you have to do is read the letters of Mozart or the memoirs of Berlioz to realize that circumstances have never been easy for musicians, or for anyone who wants to accomplish anything worthwhile.
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