Classical Music Dying?

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Classical Music Dying?

Postby 1hitcombo » Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:52 pm UTC

Is classical music a dying genre?

Discuss.

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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby TheAmazingRando » Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:57 pm UTC

It depends what you mean by classical music as a genre.
Instrumental music? No, there's plenty of that being produced.
Compositional music is still alive and strong, even if it isn't necessarily in the mainstream (and some is, like film scores). See the Tzadik label for some examples. I just saw a concert a few months ago of newly-composed modern classical pieces. Much of it is avant-garde, but it's been making that progression for over a century now.

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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby Philomid » Tue Jan 15, 2008 12:38 am UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:It depends what you mean by classical music as a genre.
Instrumental music? No, there's plenty of that being produced.
Compositional music is still alive and strong, even if it isn't necessarily in the mainstream (and some is, like film scores). See the Tzadik label for some examples. I just saw a concert a few months ago of newly-composed modern classical pieces. Much of it is avant-garde, but it's been making that progression for over a century now.


I agree.

But I do believe that artists such as Bach and Mozart, they are falling behind when it comes to popularity. Sometimes I find people who either haven't heard of Mozart, or can't name what he did.
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby Number3Pencils » Tue Jan 15, 2008 1:10 am UTC

For someone who likes classical, I probably should be ashamed of myself not to b able to associate any pieces with Mozart. I'm sure I've heard some Mozart, but I couldn't tell you right now what it is I 've heard of his. Truth is, I guess I'm the classical equivalent of the guy who only listens to bads that the average person has never heard of. After listening to classical for years, I got my first Beethoven CD a few months ago. Bach? Mozart? Brahms? Who's that? (Well actually I have listened to the Brandenburg Concerto and probably some other Bach.) I'm more into the ones that don't bounce off people's tongues when they hear "classical": Musorgsky, Grieg, Saint-Saëns, Dvořák, Szymanowski. I guess if there are classical music indie snobs, it's still alive.

As for contemporary music, I do enjoy Eric Whitacre, but I don't really know any other living composers. Oh, Krzysztof Penderecki, but I only know one of his pieces ("Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki"). Anyone care to introduce me to/remind me of some?

Edit: However, I realize that my tastes aren't that obscure, and I bet some would even call them mainstream. Except probably Szymanowski.
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby ChocloManx » Tue Jan 15, 2008 2:09 am UTC

I listen to it a lot. I love Bach more than anything else (Brandenburg concertos, st matthew passion, art of fugue, etc), but I also listen to Dvorak, Bela Bartok, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and other crazy newer stuff.

I think new classical music is kind of stumped, because they've been doing pretty much the same since the 23's/30's/70's?/dunno. Other musical eras have lasted over a 100 years, so I'm not worried, in fact, I'm interested in finding out how the next generation of composers will innovate (and hopefully end post-modernism).
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby 1hitcombo » Tue Jan 15, 2008 3:33 am UTC

Do you guys think that a popular classical piece such as Fur Elise is more recognizable than a popular Beatles song (didn't really know which one to choose as an example).

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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby Midnight » Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:11 am UTC

i feel that the problem with classical music is quite a few people go "as classical music goes, it's good, but it's no BEETHOVEN" and so on... you can't compare to the greats, so the greats get almost extra fame... and the cycle continues..
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby TheAmazingRando » Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:17 am UTC

Personally, I don't find Beethoven as engaging as the Romantic-era greats like Mahler and Berlioz. I had a friend try to convince me that Beethoven was, objectively, the greatest musician that ever lived, and that arguing with that was tantamount to blasphemy. I don't buy that at all.

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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby ChocloManx » Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:30 am UTC

Tchaikovsky > Beethoven as far a s romantics go, although Ludwig is pretty sexy too.
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby violaxcore » Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:52 am UTC

Tchaikovsky is kind of really wonderful, and I definitely like his pieces more than I like Beethoven's. Bartok, Gershwin, and Debussy are definitely my favorites though

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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby btilly » Tue Jan 15, 2008 6:15 am UTC

A lot of people who think classical music is dead and would never be caught dead going to an orchestra don't even notice that a lot of the music in their favorite movies is orchestral music in a classical style.

Millions of Americans will recognize a lot of classical music that they have no idea they have listened to. Why? Because it is integrated into popular culture in places they don't think about, like Looney Tunes!

In my opinion, classical music is alive and well.
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby damienthebloody » Tue Jan 15, 2008 12:26 pm UTC

in terms of popularity, people still know, love and respect classical music probably as much as they ever did. They expect to hear it (and enjoy it) in film scores, in formal settings, and so on, even though most people don't spend a lot of time actively seeking out 'classical music' to listen to.

In terms of quality of composition, well, there is a tremendous amount of excellent material still being written nowadays - Arvo Pärt, Henryk Gorecki, John Tavener, George Crumb, Sofia Gubaidulina, Peter Sculthorpe, Krzysztof Penderecki (whose name is worth writing down purely for the consonant clusters, i have to say), are all still writing now, as well as there being any number of composers who are just starting to hit their stride. and I'm just a dilettante - i know people who listen to little but contemporary classical music, and who leave with no doubt whatsoever that there are still great things being written that will be played in 100 years time.

so, in short: no, classical music is not dying in any sense of the word.
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Tue Jan 15, 2008 1:27 pm UTC

damienthebloody wrote:in terms of popularity, people still know, love and respect classical music probably as much as they ever did. They expect to hear it (and enjoy it) in film scores, in formal settings, and so on, even though most people don't spend a lot of time actively seeking out 'classical music' to listen to.


Right. Classical music itself isn't dying, it's the appreciation for it that's dying. Classical music always has, and always will, work its way into entertainment and pop culture. It really helps to set the mood in some scenes, and helps to define a character in other scenes.

One problem with classical music is that people have heard it, they've liked it, they would recognize it if they heard it elsewhere, but more than likely they (A) don't know the name of the piece, and (B) don't know the composer. For example, not many people wouldn't recognize the piece "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" by name, or who composed it (Bach), unless they heard it.

The problem with using classical music in popular culture is that it tends to be downplayed. In most cases, it is seen as a novelty, since it is either used as the basis for a funny song, played during a circus performance, or the theme to a TV show, among other novel scenarios.
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby Pirate.Bondage » Tue Jan 15, 2008 3:27 pm UTC

People just don't appreciate it.

I love classical music- I used to play it for Jake [the kid I babysit] when he was an infant, it really calmed him down.

Plus it helps me sleep. I like it.
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby 1hitcombo » Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:12 pm UTC

I like these responses. Another question.

Is classical music primarily an upper-middle / upper class pleasure?

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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby Philomid » Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:38 pm UTC

1hitcombo wrote:I like these responses. Another question.

Is classical music primarily an upper-middle / upper class pleasure?


It used to be; to say it is now is to assume that we still have a strict social caste system. I enjoy classical music, and I certainly am not upper-class.

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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby Kizyr » Tue Jan 15, 2008 6:48 pm UTC

One problem is that classical music has sort of a refined and sophisticated aura to it. I say this is a problem because, well, sometimes you just want to listen to and enjoy music, not the connotations that come with a particular genre. There're plenty of artists that I really like, and plenty of pieces that I really like (Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Beethoven, some of Bach, Mozart, some of Dvorak, Holst--wait, he's 20th century isn't he?). But, likewise, there're plenty of pieces I think are really dull (Ravel's Bolero and Dvorak's New World Symphony come to mind).

Where that whole connotation problem comes in is when you have all that music in one genre, and due to the connotations, criticizing any particular piece as being boring or dull makes you look like you simply don't appreciate classical music altogether. Likewise, I figure it can work to discourage folks from enjoying any classical music altogether, since if you lump it all together (rather than admit to varying degrees of quality), then it's easy to dismiss everything labeled as "classical" if you just dislike one or two things.

It's sort of how telling an English class that they can't critique any books assigned for the class can inhibit their appreciation of good literature and development of their own tastes.

Anyway, I wouldn't say that it's dying. I think it's definitely alive, but perhaps the appreciation of it is a bit stunted. KF
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby TheAmazingRando » Tue Jan 15, 2008 7:09 pm UTC

I wouldn't say it's middle/upper class. It can be, some concerts are expensive, but some of the cheapest concerts I've ever attended were classical performances.

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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby miles01110 » Tue Jan 15, 2008 7:46 pm UTC

I don't think it's dying at all. It will always have a niche, simply because there is no shortage of young musicians these days.

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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby ChocloManx » Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:50 pm UTC

Kizyr wrote:But, likewise, there're plenty of pieces I think are really dull (Ravel's Bolero and Dvorak's New World Symphony come to mind).


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Dvorak's new world symphony is anything but dull!
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby JayDee » Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:55 pm UTC

PatrickRsGhost wrote:
damienthebloody wrote:in terms of popularity, people still know, love and respect classical music probably as much as they ever did. They expect to hear it (and enjoy it) in film scores, in formal settings, and so on, even though most people don't spend a lot of time actively seeking out 'classical music' to listen to.


Right. Classical music itself isn't dying, it's the appreciation for it that's dying. Classical music always has, and always will, work its way into entertainment and pop culture. It really helps to set the mood in some scenes, and helps to define a character in other scenes.
I don't see how we can make these kinds of comparisons. What with CDs and all, Classical music is more available by orders of magnitude than it has been in the past.
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby 1hitcombo » Wed Jan 16, 2008 12:38 am UTC

JayDee wrote:
PatrickRsGhost wrote:
damienthebloody wrote:in terms of popularity, people still know, love and respect classical music probably as much as they ever did. They expect to hear it (and enjoy it) in film scores, in formal settings, and so on, even though most people don't spend a lot of time actively seeking out 'classical music' to listen to.


Right. Classical music itself isn't dying, it's the appreciation for it that's dying. Classical music always has, and always will, work its way into entertainment and pop culture. It really helps to set the mood in some scenes, and helps to define a character in other scenes.
I don't see how we can make these kinds of comparisons. What with CDs and all, Classical music is more available by orders of magnitude than it has been in the past.


I don't know if you can use CDs as a measure of availability anymore. With High School Musical Soundtracks topping CD sales charts, it seems that for the most part people just download music now. And you're way more likely to find a good torrent for a new rock album than a new classical CD, or for most classical albums for that matter (or maybe i'm just looking at the wrong torrent sites)

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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby Mandiful » Wed Jan 16, 2008 12:42 am UTC

Stravinsky is my favourite.

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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby JayDee » Wed Jan 16, 2008 1:03 am UTC

1hitcombo wrote:I don't know if you can use CDs as a measure of availability anymore. With High School Musical Soundtracks topping CD sales charts, it seems that for the most part people just download music now. And you're way more likely to find a good torrent for a new rock album than a new classical CD, or for most classical albums for that matter (or maybe i'm just looking at the wrong torrent sites)
I probably should have used the more general 'recorded music' rather than mentioning CDs. The difference between being able to listen to a recording of an orchestral work and having to go listen to an actual orchestra is huge. I'd think that any changes in listening habits since recordings started to become available are insignificant compared to that. There is a long way to go before Classical music can be considered 'dying'.
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby Midnight » Wed Jan 16, 2008 1:34 am UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:Personally, I don't find Beethoven as engaging as the Romantic-era greats like Mahler and Berlioz. I had a friend try to convince me that Beethoven was, objectively, the greatest musician that ever lived, and that arguing with that was tantamount to blasphemy. I don't buy that at all.



i know what you're saying, and to a degree I agree with you, but there's GONNA be the people who objectively 'prove' that beethoven is the best composer in history, and then NPR will do a special on it, so then everyone is gonna believe them (read: AND THEY SHALT PANDER TO THE SHEEP, AND THE SHEEP SHALL LISTEN, AND KNOW THAT WHAT THEY SAY IS TRUTH*)


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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby Mandiful » Wed Jan 16, 2008 1:36 am UTC

Oh, and I went to a music High School for four years, where I played music, learned the history, theory, and did composition.

So I'm a huge Classical music buff.

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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby Eitel » Wed Jan 16, 2008 2:36 am UTC

It isn't dying, but composers now seem more focused on soundtracks for films instead of preludes and symphonies. There are still quite a few good composers though who do both, Philip Glass being one of my favourite.
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby zingmaster » Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:17 am UTC

Who said Classical music is dying? Hell no! Even if it slows down, there will be another generation of composers to pick it back up. And it's sad to say, kids, but we're actually done with the Modern Era. Modernity is history now. We're officially in what some people call post-modernism. =P
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby TheAmazingRando » Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:27 am UTC

The Modern Era expired around the time of World War II, did it not?
Maybe that's just for literature.

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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Wed Jan 16, 2008 2:44 pm UTC

1hitcombo wrote:I don't know if you can use CDs as a measure of availability anymore. With High School Musical Soundtracks topping CD sales charts, it seems that for the most part people just download music now. And you're way more likely to find a good torrent for a new rock album than a new classical CD, or for most classical albums for that matter (or maybe i'm just looking at the wrong torrent sites)


Not really. The thing about classical music and its composers is that a lot of composers did compose several pieces and movements that were meant to be played together (symphonies, like Beethoven's nine symphonies), but here's the kicker: A lot of CDs that feature classical music don't feature the symphony or symphonies in their entirety. Some may, but for the most part classical music CDs are compilations, featuring several different composers, and movements from their symphonies, or portions of their completed works.

These movements, or portions, or whatever you want to call them, may be anywhere between one to five minutes in length time-wise, but it's done so for two reasons: First, they're more than likely movements or pieces most people would recognize easily from elsewhere, like from TV shows, movies, cartoons, commercials, etc. Second, it allows for more tracks to be stored on the CD, which makes it more appealing to the consumer because it has 25 or 30 tracks, instead of just 10.

There are a few exceptions. Some well-known orchestras, like the London Philharmonic or London Symphony, will put out a composer's complete symphony or performance on a CD, even if it consists of only a handful of tracks. I have two like that, one of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" and another of Tchaikovski's "The Nutcracker." The latter is a 2-CD set, and when I ordered it through BMG, it came with a booklet that told the story of the Nutcracker, and had sidenotes that told you what to listen for during each piece.
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby zingmaster » Wed Jan 16, 2008 8:53 pm UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:The Modern Era expired around the time of World War II, did it not?
Maybe that's just for literature.

Nope, I'm pretty sure the Modern Era last for most of the 20th century.
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby TheAmazingRando » Wed Jan 16, 2008 9:13 pm UTC

zingmaster wrote:Nope, I'm pretty sure the Modern Era last for most of the 20th century.

I think it must be some sort of overlap, I know postmodernism in literature was present in the early 60s at least. A cursory glance through wikipedia seems to confirm that.

Though further googling shows we may both be wrong, at least as far as music is concerned.

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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby JayDee » Thu Jan 17, 2008 1:15 am UTC

PatrickRsGhost wrote:Not really. The thing about classical music and its composers is that a lot of composers did compose several pieces and movements that were meant to be played together (symphonies, like Beethoven's nine symphonies), but here's the kicker: A lot of CDs that feature classical music don't feature the symphony or symphonies in their entirety. Some may, but for the most part classical music CDs are compilations, featuring several different composers, and movements from their symphonies, or portions of their completed works.
But now that we have CDs, if you have the money you can go out and buy the complete works of a composer. Even without that, I can go down to the local university library and listen to them for free. I have the choice of multiple performances, and I have all this at my fingertips. The point I was making about CDs (or recorded music in general - the internet increase this even more) is that it changes the availability of music completely.

Even the fact that most everyone seems to recognise snippets of classical music (all the bits and pieces that make it into movies and commercials and the like) seems to be a better situation than what I imagine would have existed a hundred years ago.
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby reflectia » Thu Jan 17, 2008 2:19 am UTC

Number3Pencils wrote:As for contemporary music, I do enjoy Eric Whitacre, but I don't really know any other living composers. Oh, Krzysztof Penderecki, but I only know one of his pieces ("Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki"). Anyone care to introduce me to/remind me of some?


Penderecki wrote this amazing piece, "Credo", which unfortunately not many people have heard of. I had the opportunity to perform it in Yale's Woolsey Hall last year, with Penderecki himself conducting... needless to say, it was an amazing experience.

Classical music in the sense that most people pick it up (around here, anyway, i.e. the kind that Bach, Mozart, etc. wrote), is still alive - like everyone above has mentioned, there are still snippets you pick up in movies and commercials, etc. But I agree, the appreciation for the intricacies and nuances of classical music have faded. There IS what I call "contemporary classical music", or what others call Modernism and Post-Modernism, but the reality is that it's probably even less heard-of.

Although classical music is more widely available due to the invention of CD's and internet downloading, would you say that it's becoming more popular? Personally, I think that wider availability doesn't necessarily increase the number of appreciative listeners, seeing as how preconceptions of classical music in many younger listeners (i.e. those who listen to classical music are music "geeks" and "nerds" and therefore "uncool") would stop them from buying a classical music CD even despite wide availability and affordability. The way I see it, the people who buy the most classical music CD's now are those who appreciated classical music even before the advent of CD's and downloading.

As a side note, Benjamin Britten is amazing. (War Requiem, anyone?)
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby JayDee » Thu Jan 17, 2008 3:41 am UTC

reflectia wrote:Classical music in the sense that most people pick it up (around here, anyway, i.e. the kind that Bach, Mozart, etc. wrote), is still alive - like everyone above has mentioned, there are still snippets you pick up in movies and commercials, etc. But I agree, the appreciation for the intricacies and nuances of classical music have faded.
I'm not even sure about that. There are places (both in meatspace and cyberspace) where people 'appreciate' classical music in those ways, and discuss it in depth. I'm willing to bet there are more people doing appreciating classical music nowadays than in the past as well.
reflectia wrote:Although classical music is more widely available due to the invention of CD's and internet downloading, would you say that it's becoming more popular?
I don't know. That classical music is more easily avaliable (and that people are taking advantage of said availability, plenty of those CDs sell) says to me that it certainly isn't dying, though.
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby McCaber » Thu Jan 17, 2008 5:58 am UTC

I'm into choral music myself. I tried to get into some of the modern composers, I really did. My choirs did some of the best modern music out there. Eric Whitacre rocks, no question. But I'm a Bach man, first and foremost.

Classical music will never die. Bach, Brahms, Mendolssohn, choral music never got better then the classics and romantics.

I have an idea. Let's form a movement to bring back the good stuff. If we work together, we can reform the cretins of the world! Bwa ha ha!
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby Savoy_Truffle » Thu Jan 17, 2008 7:03 am UTC

I'm listening to Whitacre right now -- "Her Sacred Spirit Soars." I want to sing it so bad it hurts.

Also, as far as classical music goes, I feel like there's definitely been a lull (you know when the price of CDs goes way down), but I can't believe it's dying. It's just falling asleep. What needs to happen is there needs to be some kind of public awareness that'll let me know: Oh, the funny chorus with the weird rhythms they play on all the action movies and sports advertisements is the "O Fortuna" movement of Orff's "Carmina Burana." It should be as common knowledge as Da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

What's dangerous is that I think people have gotten to the point where they feel all that can be done with classical music has been done and all that's left is to trek the modern music frontier. I think it's admirable to do so, but I also think that a revival might be in order sometime -- after all, there's no limit to a good composer's ingenuity.
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby aion7 » Thu Jan 17, 2008 1:59 pm UTC

No. Classical music is not dying. It's still played in concerts. Many people still listen to it. It's still awesome. I will never not like Dvorak or Mozart. When played by a good orchestra classical music is some of the best, ever.
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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby Jesse » Thu Jan 17, 2008 4:51 pm UTC

Modern composers? Clint Mansell has to be my favourite, would his works count as 'classical music'? (Thinking especially of, say, Lux Aeterna).

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Re: Classical Music Dying?

Postby miles01110 » Mon Jan 21, 2008 7:12 pm UTC

ChocloManx wrote:
Kizyr wrote:But, likewise, there're plenty of pieces I think are really dull (Ravel's Bolero and Dvorak's New World Symphony come to mind).


WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?
WHAT?

Dvorak's new world symphony is anything but dull!


It isn't dull in the sense that it's nice to listen to, but it is very dull in the sense that there isn't much there musically. No innovation, nothing risky, typical Dvorak. It's overplayed and overpopularized, but whatever sells, I guess.

Same for Bolero.

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TheAmazingRando wrote:Personally, I don't find Beethoven as engaging as the Romantic-era greats like Mahler and Berlioz. I had a friend try to convince me that Beethoven was, objectively, the greatest musician that ever lived, and that arguing with that was tantamount to blasphemy. I don't buy that at all.


i know what you're saying, and to a degree I agree with you, but there's GONNA be the people who objectively 'prove' that beethoven is the best composer in history, and then NPR will do a special on it, so then everyone is gonna believe them.


I don't think that anyone can argue who is the "best" composer any more than one can argue about what is the "best" kind of food or whatever, it's way too subjective and based on personal preference to ever be proven or disproven.

However there is little [meaningful] debate that contradicts that Beethoven's work represents a clear break with basically everything that came before him. We can get into a whole different thread about this, but listen to anything written before 1804, and then listen to Beethoven's Third Symphony ('Eroica'). Nothing was the same afterwards.


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