Offers a start-to-finish history of classical music, explaining how the twentieth century has reached a radical transformation period in which orchestras have become out of reach to most people, left only to the elite who can afford their exorbitant ticket prices.
A sequel of sorts to The Maestro Myth: Great Conductors in Pursuit of Power, Who Killed Classical Music? continues British author and critic Norman Lebrecht’s version of the saga of how presenting classical music evolved from the (at least ostensible) nurturing of art into a brutal and fairly sleazy business. Lebrecht finds plenty of heads on which to heap the blame, and more than a few minor deities are toppled from their thrones. He’s not always altogether accurate in the small details, but he’s eminently readable and he’s got the big picture dead on. Like its predecessor, this is a must read for anyone concerned about the future of classical music.
Shocking! Revealing! Frightening! These cliches from the promoter’s vernacular may not be associated with most studies of art music, but they fit this expose of the dirty underside of the classical music world, first published in Britain in 1996 as When the Music Stops. A music writer for the Sunday Times and other publications, Lebrecht believes that the less-than-artistic motives and dealings of present-day star performers, managers, and corporate owners are ruining the art. He presents hard evidence of massive corruption and artistic sell-out in all facets of the field and charts the resultant decline in audience interest. He pulls no punches, naming and pointing his finger at the culprits. The writing is hard-hitting and engaging, although his apocalyptic view is ultimately depressing. Highly recommended.
Timothy J. McGee, Univ. of Toronto