will Classical music ever return to mainstream?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Bolero, Sep 9, 2015.

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  1. Bolero

    Bolero Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    North America
    I have been listening to a lot of Classical music lately

    Sadly, most radio stations market & target their classical music towards an older, retired generation and label it as "relaxing" content. It is almost condescending the way a lot of the hosts talk

    However Classical music is some of the most vibrant, interesting stuff to have come from mankind

    it's a shame it has been relegated to the Blue-hair & Walker crowd....


    [​IMG]



    I wonder if it will ever re-surge back to the level of popularity it enjoyed for hundreds of years?


    What do we need to do, to make it appeal to younger/future generations?

    I tell you one thing: the current way they market it sure won't be appealing to many under 60, any time soon :D

    maybe the stuff we hold so dearly now will someday suffer the same fate
     
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  2. ubertrout

    ubertrout Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    It was never mainstream. Aside from artists who crossed over like Caruso, it was always a somewhat niche market. Composers relied on aristocratic patrons until the 19th century and beyond (for instance, Wagner), and relied on wealthy donors almost immediately thereafter, with only a few exceptions in the 19th century.

    At the 1893 World's Fair performances by the Chicago Symphony were lightly attended, while performances of Sousa's band were packed. Most of the music sold in the pre-recording era were sentimental popular songs, while classical was never the most popular of genres.

    While many classical recordings were made in the 50s and 60s, these generally failed to turn a profit, and were subsidized by healthy sales by pop music divisions. And the most popular classical recordings were pops recordings, not serious classical anyway.

    At least classical hasn't gone the way of jazz, which really did go from popular to fading niche. Classical has always been niche, but it's been steady at that position for a century. I don't think it's in serious danger of fading much more.
     
  3. Bolero

    Bolero Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    North America
    well that is interesting, thanks for the backstory

    I am such a NOOB :)


    cheers
     
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  4. DJ LX

    DJ LX Forum Resident

    Location:
    Madison WI
    Ubertrout nailed it. Classical music has never been truly mainstream, but it's carved out a secure niche for itself. Every once in a while a classical recording will cross over into the mainstream and become a sensations of sorts. To wit: Górecki's third symphony in the 90s. From Wikipedia:

    Until 1992, Górecki was known only to connoisseurs, primarily as one of several composers responsible for the postwar Polish music renaissance.[3] That year, Elektra-Nonesuch released a recording of the 24-year-old symphony that topped the classical charts in Britain and the United States. To date, it has sold more than a million copies, vastly exceeding the expected lifetime sales of a typical symphonic recording by a 20th-century composer. This success, however, has not generated similar interest in Górecki's other works.[4]

    I'm not a big fan of the third, but I got it for my dad for Christmas back then and he loved it.
     
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  5. hotsoup

    hotsoup Forum Resident

    Location:
    Walla Walla, WA
    I think too as long as there will be musicians learning classical string or wind instruments, there will be classic repertoire being performed to some degree. Hopefully music programs remain in US schools for a while. That's basically where I fell in love with classical.
     
  6. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dixie
    There's an episode of Futurama where Fry decides to go off by himself and live in his past (if you don't know the show, he was frozen in 2000 AD and revived in 3000 AD). So he gets himself a fratboy pad and sits around swilling beer, eating pizza, and listening to rap from the (19)90s on a boombox.

    Leila comes over and is digusted. She reprimands him:

    "Don't you have anything better to do than sit around listening to classical music?"
     
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  7. ShockControl

    ShockControl Bon Vivant and Raconteur!

    Location:
    Lotus Land
    I agree with your assessment, but I think it is fair to say that classical music at one time made a bigger dent into the mainstream than it has in more recent decades. This occurred via popular pieces and celebrity conductors or musicians.

    But to the OP's question, I think classical music - and more importantly, the classical tradition - is finished. Putting dots and stems on paper for subsequent performance represented an early form of "recording." Audio recording in the 20th century allowed the interpreter to be immortalized, just like the composer. So the classical tradition really started to die then.

    It is hard to imagine a contemporary classical piece making a major impact on the general population today.
     
  8. George P

    George P Letting Go

    Location:
    NYC
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  9. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dixie
    This is an interesting point. I see the turning point coming when conductors replaced composers as media figures (starting with Toscanini? Bernstein?). The end came when opera directors (Peter Sellars) became the focus of publicity.

    I think it could still happen if one were used in a movie, TV show, or even commercial.
     
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  10. ShockControl

    ShockControl Bon Vivant and Raconteur!

    Location:
    Lotus Land
    This has certainly happened with Orff's Carmina Burana and Barber's Adagio for Strings.

    But it would be interesting to see if a contemporaneous piece could ever attain that notoriety.
     
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  11. ubertrout

    ubertrout Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Agreed. A lot of the classical tradition was in the playing. Thus the Sousa article The Menace of Mechanical Music and so forth.

    One figure...Andre Kostelanetz sold an estimated 50 million records, but is essentially forgotten today - the whole "light classical" movement that used to be prominent has essentially died out. Karajan sold about that many records as well, but his best seller was not a recording of a major piece, but his "Adagio" compilation at some 2 million units, now a staple of estate sales.

    By contrast, I don't think serious classical is in as much danger. But we'll see.
     
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  12. Tonmeister

    Tonmeister Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    [​IMG]
    Well, according to Star Trek: The Next Generation, classical will still be being listened to and performed well into the 24th Century:

    http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org/database/classical_music.htm

    Big fans of the show in our house, but I am always a little disappointed they never stray beyond the 19th Century in their recitals: twelve-tone music, for me, is real future music...
     
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  13. ShockControl

    ShockControl Bon Vivant and Raconteur!

    Location:
    Lotus Land
    It's interesting when you consider that Ferde Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite - which I think most would consider "light classical" - debuted in the early 1930s, and already by the 1940s, the "On the Trail" movement was popular enough to show up in cartoons. It was that recognizable. Can you imagine a classical piece composed in, say, the year 2000, and being popular enough in 2015 to be recognized by the general public and used in cartoons?
     
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  14. fluffskul

    fluffskul Forum Resident

    Location:
    albany, ny
    I think classical survives in its live performances. In my small town (see my avatar), the local symphony generally sells out where mainstream acts sometimes fail to. A lot of them are older people. Some are college-age kids on dates. And some are school-aged kids with their parents. But I don't doubt that wasn't the same scene that symphonies have always drawn. As far as classical ever selling millions of albums the way Karajan or Bernstein did. No it will never return. But then again physical album sales of any genre will never be what they once were.
     
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  15. fluffskul

    fluffskul Forum Resident

    Location:
    albany, ny
    Only if it were the score for a movie. Though movies (at least in the theater) are a dying art too now they say.
     
  16. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Chevelle Ma Belle

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic
    Classical music was mainstream music for the aristocracy or used to support church services. In the 19th century the expanding middle class wanted to emulate the fading but still prestigious aristocracy. So there was briefly a somewhat mainstream acceptance of classical music.

    This cultural attitude was badly damaged in WW1 and pretty much extinguished by WW2. However it takes a while for such things to fade completely particularly when you had heirs to the tradition still around in positions of responsibility. They retired or passed away by 1970 and the rout was on. Even Lenny Bernstein saw the handwriting on the wall although he tried to stir interest with his TV programs for young people.

    The issue today is that the elites are no more culturally sophisticated than the masses. Record company execs listen to hiphop or pop and farm out their classical catalogs to repackagers. They only bother to promote young virtuosos who have enough in the Looks Dept to sell based on the cover. Classical music survives mainly from the Asian countries which still esteem cultural excellence and to a much lesser extent Europeans who still feel attached to the old culture.

    Nevertheless worldwide there is still enough support that things can go on for another generation or so as they are now. I don't think it will retreat to the museum in the near future.
     
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  17. MaximilianRG

    MaximilianRG Forum Resident

    Music education started disappearing completely from public schools in the early 90's. This has created a new generation of people who can't even distinguish good popular music from bad popular music. Forget expecting them to have any appreciation for classical music. It's not their fault. They didn't get free instrument lessons and field trips to the opera. They didn't get to choose between jazz band, marching band, orchestra or choir. The High School I went to had the best music program 50 square miles. Now it has none.
     
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  18. John Williams' more famous pieces will still be played 100 years from now. Virtually everyone alive knows the iconic theme to Star Wars and several other famous pieces of music from Williams.
     
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  19. ShockControl

    ShockControl Bon Vivant and Raconteur!

    Location:
    Lotus Land
    Yes, but not everyone is convinced that John Williams is a "classical" composer.
     
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  20. ShockControl

    ShockControl Bon Vivant and Raconteur!

    Location:
    Lotus Land
    The more we have these conversations about why this or that isn't mainstream, the more I come to realize that there is really less and less of a "mainstream." Society has become fragmented into numerous subcultures.
     
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  21. Robin L

    Robin L Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Fresno, California
    I've been collecting 'Classical' music for 45 years. Used to go to a J.C. Penney or a Sears, they'd have a record section with a classical subsection. Now those two stores have no recorded music. Got my first copy of a Bruckner symphony at a "Thrifty's" drug store. Now there's no more Thrifty's. Used to be weekly shipments of new classical titles at the Wherehouse records where I worked. Now there's no more Wherehouse records. Point being, even if classical music was never actually "mainstream" [and that may be part of the attraction for some] it used to be widely available, at least in terms of new recordings appearing in retail outlets. Not any more. Even going to a really big modern-day store like Amoeba San Francisco will yield up mostly used records, CDs. Support of High-Rez at Amoeba is nonexistent. New issues of classical music are few and far between.

    We were sold the illusion that these were "timeless classics, never to go out of style". Guess what? They've been out of style for a very long time. If there was a market for this stuff, we would have seen deluxe issues of audiophile classics on LP and SACD mastered by our host. The closest Steve Hoffman's got to a classical reissue in the last decade was a reissue of the Billy Strayhorn reworking of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. That should tell you something.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2015
  22. realgone

    realgone Forum Resident

    Location:
    Singapore
    Not sure if I recall correctly but I read that the classical share of music sales has shrunk to about 2.8%. It's fair to say any classical music activity, from concerts to formal training, is highly subsidised or sponsored where I am from. I see a good number of young listeners at concerts which is encouraging and I don't discount a small turnaround much like the vinyl one as young people search for something to differentiate themselves from mainstream culture.
     
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  23. RonW

    RonW Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    Huh?
    When did it leave?
     
  24. Robin L

    Robin L Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Fresno, California
    About the time Tower Records folded its tent.
     
  25. RelayerNJ

    RelayerNJ Forum Resident

    Location:
    Whippany, NJ
    You are forgetting the Three Tenors, who in their heyday performed at stadiums and sold millions of copies.
     
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