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Superman's Pal

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,776
In Reply To
The Avenger

Location: New Jersey
Member Since: Thu Dec 02, 2021
Subj: Re: Is classical music dead?
Posted: Thu Apr 14, 2022 at 11:14:34 am EDT (Viewed 209 times)
Reply Subj: Is classical music dead?
Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2022 at 11:49:05 am EDT (Viewed 249 times)

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The quick answer is, "No" - but it requires thinking through what classical music is.

Is it the music of Old Europe? I ask this because the blues, jazz, country, and rock all originated in the United States. If you eliminate not only those genres but all of their influence, what you're left with (in the West) is the music of Old Europe. Is that what classical music is? If so, then classical music only exists as a very large but closed catalogue, handed down through the centuries, beginning about 500 CE and ending, let's arbitrarily say, with the death of Johannes Brahms in 1897.

But some modern composers think classical music doesn't have to be kept in that cage. They bring in other influences, for example indie rock, and electronica, and traditional music from non-European cultures. For these visionaries, classical music continually evolves, and can only be enriched by contact with new ways of making beauty with sound. Some of these composers are discussed here:

I would include some 20th century composers as falling into the same category as the young composers discussed in the above article. The most famous and obvious is Igor Stravinsky.

And what of movie soundtracks? When I asked my daughter if classical music was dead, she said, "No, because we still hear it in movies." I think a lot of us, myself included, would agree with that conclusion. I would merely add that movie soundtracks represent another evolution of classical, indeed another fusion of classical with something else: it's a fusion with cinematography! I think it's crucial, and exciting, to remember that. Movie soundtracks contribute to the telling of a visual story! Is this new? Actually, no. Ballet has a soundtrack, and opera does as well. Yet cinematography differs from ballet, and differs from opera as well. It's the third evolution of musical storytelling! (I consider Broadway musicals to be an offshoot of opera, differing only in superficial ways, driven more by popular taste than by any serious aesthetic philosophy. Thus we have ballet, opera/Broadway, and cinematography.)

So is classical music dead? No, it's forever evolving.

What is classical music? Is it a certain technique of composing? Is it anything written for a symphony orchestra? Or is it married to a certain era of history?

Like you said, movie scores seem like the modern equivalent. Usually written for an orchestra, usually instrumental pieces. They usually lack the verse-chorus structure of pop songs, featuring longer movements, character motifs and such. John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone, Danny Elfman might be the modern Beethovens. Why don't I know any female composers?

Didn't some of the classical composers write their scores for operas and plays as well?

Then you've got the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or Mannheim Steamroller keeping it alive.

Your post reminds me of Mr. Holland's Opus in which he pens "The American Symphony" which attempts to bring moderns American styles (or instruments) into his symphony.

I don't know if that's what you mean exactly.