The death of classical music is not only an old topic, but broad as well. Looking at a few recent posts on classical music blogs, the discussion appears to be focusing more on specific aspects of classical music’s supposed morbidity.
Anne Midgette (blogging at the Washington Post’s Classical Beat) wonders whether the classical CD business is dying, and in response British music commentator Norman Lebrecht wrote that ways of communicating about classical music are disappearing.
Here’s what Lebrecht recently wrote on his blog, Slipped Disc:
Music will survive so long as someone is around to tell the public that it exists. But what happens when the last newspaper abolishes classical coverage, or goes to the wall? Where will the credible writing appear? And how will the world hear the music? I’ve never believed it will disappear, but I do think we need to work on communications solutions.
“The Internet!” seems like the obvious and easy answer, but it becomes more tricky when asking “who” and “how” and other pesky questions. There are a great many classical music blogs out there, but how many are covering classical music in your town? (If you’re in New York and Chicago, your answer will differ from those of residents of West Virginia’s Charleston or Morgantown).
And this is where we – radio (and our extended presence on the Internet) – can have a part to play. Lebrecht focuses on the loss of newspaper coverage and doesn’t mention radio. (I wonder if he’s heard the recent good news about classical radio listening in England?)
Every day, classical hosts tell the public about classical music and share it with listeners. Radio stations produce interviews and feature stories, essays, and commentaries about classical music. And if you need words on a page or screen to consider it writing, radio stations are posting text versions of stories online along with audio, and producing purely textual content on their Web sites, often in blog form.
NPR’s site features text of many of their stories, and rumor has it that the network will soon start a classical music blog — Marty is scaring up more info on that. Here are some examples of music writing from NPR: Rob Kapilow’s commentary on Copland, Tom Huizenga’s obituary for Michael Steinberg (nested inside this example is another excellent one: audio of Michael Steinberg talking about the symphony), and Ted Libbey and Fred Child discussing Murray Perahia’s recording of the Goldberg Variations.
Here’s my local example: the Associated Press story about a recent concert in Huntington with a NASCAR tie-in was based on my radio story, not something from a newspaper.
If public radio news can help to preserve journalism at a time when newspapers are ailing, why can’t classical radio serve a greater role as a “communications solution” for classical music? We are already an important part of letting people know about classical music; we now have the opportunity to do so in new ways.
How much of your classical music reading and reporting do you get from your classical and/or public radio station, in addition to the music itself? What are your favorite examples of music writing on radio?
And if you’re at a radio station: Are you filling the gaps where other coverage of classical music has disappeared? Are you considering any new projects along these lines?
(If you’re interested in more on the prognosis for the classical CD industry, I recommend reading Midgette’s post, and be to sure follow her informative selection of links and read the comments.)