BBC Radio 4 ran a provocative program called Who Killed Classical Music?, hosted by producer & composer Gabriel Prokofiev. Unfortunately the audio is already gone from the Website, but it was an informal account of how contemporary classical music became hyper-refined, appealing only to an elite, minority audience. In Mr. Prokofiev's account, political movements played a role. One of his interviewees observes that the extreme serialism of the Darmstadt School can be seen as a reaction to World War II in countries which had been Fascist or complicit in Fascism, specifically Germany, Italy & France. The large audiences in traditional concert halls, with their synchronized applause & crowd mentality, looked like a class enemy to some composers. If bourgeois audiences didn't like your music, then you were doing your job. Writer Stephen Johnson, though, thinks audiences just found the music "immensely boring." At the end of the program, composer Tansy Davies suggests that "The concert hall is not appealing to the younger audience, who don't feel that they own the space." The speculation is that contemporary music will forward by moving into new venues.
§ Who Killed Classical Music?
BBC Radio 4
Gabriel Prokofiev, with contributions from Arnold Whittall, Stephen Johnson, Alexander Goehr, David Matthews, Ivan Hewett and Tansy Davies
Broadcast Tue 21 Jan 2014 11:30 and Sat 25 Jan 2014 15:30