Monthly Archives: July 2015

New music in frugal times

 

Since the beginning of the current financial crisis in 2008, classical music as a genre has become – in the West – increasingly under pressure. But it seems that financial pressures are only bringing other pressures in relief: the pressures of ‘exhaustion of old repertoire’, the aging of audiences, and the critique that ‘classical music’ with its endless repetitions of the same works is no longer compatible with modern, progressive, egalitarian and multicultural society and does not deserve the elitist and high-brow status and position as expressed through its funding, privately in America and by the state in Europe. Serious music, be it the old repertoire or new music, needs strong arguments to justify its position and funding, and needs to be able to formulate its meaning and value for society as a whole. This can only be achieved by demonstrating its connection with the best of Western culture, with its cultural identity and with the community: its relationship with audiences.

In such context, the ‘new music scene’ is in a doubly difficult position. Where new music forms a separate territory with performances on specialist festivals and in specialist concerts entirely dedicated to new music, its relevance has become nugatory, and where it is occasionally performed in the context of the regular, traditional performance culture, it is mostly met by a polite tolerance rather than an enthusiastic embrace of a much-needed injection of new life into an art form which otherwise may wither away due to its character of a museum.

Critique of modern art

 

For anyone, suspecting that the critique of modernism in all its forms, as expounded in these pages, are just expressions of a reactionary, conservative, fascistoid and frustrated mentality, the following articles are wholeheartedly recommended. They demonstrate an increase of well-thought attempts to take distance from petrified biasses and conventions of the last century which dramatically hinder new developments in the arts, including (serious) music. Independently from each other, critics from left to right begin to see the cultural reality which is in front of us, but which seems to inspire infinite denial in the various cultural establishments. One of the first thorough criticism of certain forms of modernism came from the British philosopher and musicologist Roger Scruton, and his subtle but irrefutable damnations have often been explained-away as coming from ‘the conservative camp’. But now similar observations appear from many different sides, which show that they are not politically or socially determined but resulting from a profound dissatisfaction about what our culture is capable of producing today and a profound wish to find solutions.