22 May 2012
Art music has been one of the pleasures of my life – playing instruments, going to concerts, listening to it on LP, then CD. Playing in an orchestra was one source of joy; another was discovering one composer's world after another; another was the pilgrimage paid to hear the Berlin Philharmonic at its source, or Wagner on a Bavarian stage. I never thought that everyone would share my love for the Chopin Études, or Debussy's La Mer. But it never occurred to me that the whole art would diminish, in this country; that "music" would come entirely to mean pop music.
The art seems likely to survive in the hands of bad practitioners. There is now something called an opera singer who has never, and could never, sing an opera on a professional stage. There is now so much more of an audience for so-called "classical crossover" artists, giving a traduced idea of a Rossini aria, than ever before. There is space on television for people who can't conduct and can't sing – Maestro and Popstar to Operastar – but not for people who can. Soon, we will be asked to admire a pretty girl playing a first-month piano exercise with elaborate orchestration behind her. The art acquired over a lifetime will be sought out for admiration by a diminishing few.
Read the rest at The Independent.