2005-02-06

Change in Classic Music? Bring It On

Today the field of classic music, like every other others, faces change. Some of our colleagues talk of desperation. The situation calls instead for resourcefulness, imagination, and creativity. Fortunately, artists possess these traits in abundance. The creative have always been well-equipped to face history's profound shifts.

We trust our music because we can. Beauty acquires its share of admirers. We know this because we have seen it happen. New listeners are drawn to this music as we were drawn to it ourselves. All the music needs (as a 17-year-old violinist recently reminded us) is a chance to be heard. New and exciting means of ensuring that chance are invented daily.

Critics learned a long time ago how to generate a little extra buzz among readers by touting 'the death of' this or that. On any given day we can read that rock music has died, newspapers have died, classical music has died, movies have died, technologies have died, history has died. There's no end to the body count. But, as one wag observed, no one ever erected a statue to a critic.

The truth: no one knows the future. By definition the word refers to time that has not arrived. It is wide open.

The truth: everyone alive has something to say about what the future will be. If we want our music carried forward, we can see to it.

The last word will rest not with you or me or with those who predict doom, but with the thousands of young people around the world who, as you read, are practicing Mozart.

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