It seems like music writers are working towards some unspoken quota for the number of articles about the “death” of classical music and/or jazz that have to appear in a Google search. Pieces about the upcoming, long-past or allegedly well-known demise of both musical traditions appear with impressive periodicity. Mark Vanhoenacker’s “Requiem” is the latest example of this perennial trend.
This article is actually one of the most optimistic things I have seen in quite some time, not just when it comes to classical music’s death, but to my own end. Based on the outpouring of reaction from musicians, journalists and fans, I hope that someday I will also be consigned to the type of “death” that Vanhoenacker is convinced classical music has already suffered. Here’s a small sample of what Vanhoenacker would probably dismiss as necrophilia:
-Greg Sandow, whose blog is devoted to the questions (rather than the presuppositions) that Vanhoenacker raises, suggesting that the fat lady isn’t ready to sing;
-Proper Discord with a passionate, at times far-reaching reply that points to the growth of public radio as well as the fact that musicians, not necessarily large, well-known and lavishly funded orchestras, make music;
-Matthew Kassel making the mind-blowingly modest point that classical music, as well as jazz and poetry “may never be very popular…. [but that] doesn’t mean any of those art forms are dead;”
– Head|Voice letting personal experience as well as passion generate some alternatives to the narrative.
As for my own views on the death of classical music, I’m just intrigued by the term’s linguistic and philosophical context. For example, what do I make of that word when selecting which Vivaldi opera I want to listen to while reading the catalogs of at least three (as in one, two and three among other) different labels exclusively devoted to prewar jazz? What about while attending one of L’Academie’s free concerts of eighteenth century music at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, or the forty-third BixFest? The only other question left to ask is, “how come no one is writing similar articles about polka, or jug bands?”