Slipped Disc is at Peabody today… watch live

It’s the Dean’s Symposium with Norman Lebrecht, 2.30 pm EST, or 1830/1930 Euro time.

Watch here.

norman lebrecht

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    • What?? Is this not the very image of He who has a monopoly on ‘Exclusive, breaking, blah, blah, blah’ stories that must otherwise be hidden from all — except, of course, those of us who also get news releases, plus anyone who reads the Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh Gazette or the Sioux Falls (South Dakota) Intelligencer.

      The question that leapt into my mind when first I saw this latest dollop of self-promotion was, “My God! Is that the best Johns Hopkins and the Peabody Institute could come up with?” Well, you know, in a sense I don’t think they needed to, assuming what they got was what they wanted. now I’ve listened to the thing. It wasn’t possible to count, but it looked as if there were less than a hundred people in the auditorium, so I did wonder how much money was expended on this pointless exercise. And pointless it was. NL’s symposium is the only one in the series that comes without a description of content, subject, purpose. It’s just described as a “visit”. The questions from the Dean received stock replies, the commonplace questions from the audience likewise received answers that were were oh, so obvious — we’ve been discussing them to death of late, beneficially in small pockets of debate, but this was not one of those pockets. And in any case, NL is no expert on any of it. A large part of the trouble is the obsession with celebrity. Whether the name is Kardashian or Lebrecht, the celebs know that any publicity is good publicity. Being notorious for self-aggrandizement, making factual errors, having to defend the indefensible in a court of law, getting your books pulped, or writing utterly half-arsed books on safer ground (no one to sue) makes no difference — your name is known. And this brings us to the matter of why NL turning up at the Peabody is no surprise. American universities (with British in hot pursuit) have for years now been paying staggering salaries to academics whose work is decidedly dubious or thin. Think Alan Dershowitz, Niall Ferguson, Michael Ignatieff, et al. With the Peabody symposia, we see a spillover of that into the non-academic realm, though to be fair, the others in the series seem to have far more substance. The symposia should also be reasonably accessible, but that does not mean trotting out the same old questions and getting the same old answers, as here.

      I do not take this lightly, for money much needed elsewhere has been wasted on this, and no one is going to be inspired or fired-up by the product Peabody paid for.

  • This blog was supposed to garner 1,300,000 viewers right?

    So far: SEVEN(7) VIEWS…according to u-stream

    SEVEN

    SE-VEN….

    1..2..3..4..5..6…………….7!!

    SEVEN people watched this.

    #killinit!

    • Now, that being said:

      “We’ve been teaching students to live their lives, in a way that the teacher was taught by THEIR teacher to live their lives. Thats unconscionable”

      Excellent.

  • Norman, during your talk you mentioned the statistics on SD readership, as I remember 48% female and 51% under age 35. Do you have statistics broken down by region, eg. Europe, US, Asia, Russia…?

      • Well, assuming that the readers are largely concerned about classical music, then based on such a large sample base this should reflect on which parts of the world are now most interested in classical music, or becoming more interested in classical music, eg. Asia or Latin America. I just thought it could be interesting, it could also indicate where there is a decline of interest…

  • Very interesting discussion at Peabody. I agree with most findings, like new program formats,involving the community in it etc, but one important issue was hardly mentioned: music education.
    The fact that it has nearly disappeared from schools plus the dwindling number of kids who pick up an instrument themselves ( parents could play a more positive role model here ), all that is of course detrimental to all the other efforts.
    One can repackage certain aspects of classical music — that has always happened throughout history — but the fundamental lack of music education from an early age on is a major obstacle on a pathway to improve things.
    And it is not an easy task to get that message across to politicians, who shy away from anything that could be even remotely seen as ‘irrelevant’ or God forbid ‘elitist’.

    An integrated approach of how music education can work is to be seen at the
    Barrat Due Institute in Oslo, where everything from musical kindergarden to college is under one roof. No ‘elitist’ approach here, toddlers and international prize winning soloists are to be seen and heard in the same building.
    http://www.barrattdue.no/eng/

    That may not convince Fred Flintstone or some anonymous trolls,
    but it’s one way to build an audience and helping secure the future of classical music.

  • Out of all the things expressed, only one I am directly opposed:

    “We have to make the people realize why this (an orchestra, an opera) is essential” …..

    SERIOUSLY? ESSENTIAL?

    Essential means: if you don’t have it, something basic in life does not function.

    lets see: Water is essential, pavement is essential, electricity is essential, food is essential, and music (in any way, shape or form) is also essential.

    But CLASSICAL MUSIC ESSENTIAL? Says who? Is this in the universal declaration of human rights? what gives THIS particular kind of music the entitlement of being more essential than the rest?

    MORALITY? – Some of the worst acts of humanity had classical music as a soundtrack.
    CREATIVITY/INTELLIGENCE? – Silicon valley nerds have never heard a symphony and they change the world.
    HISTORY? Chinese music is 1000’s of years old, Beethoven 300. China wins
    COMPLEXITY? So, Boulez is better than Beethoven bc you need a math degree to understand it?

    Things will become sustainable when the idea of “my music is better than yours” falls.

    Its fundamentalist.

    • According to your logic a 3 minute commercial pop song based on the most primitive and repetitive harmonic and rhythmic structures is on par with a complex classical piece of music.
      Or a computer generated graphic, done in 2 minutes, equals a painting by Turner or Picasso.
      I guess industrial junk food equals now a carefully prepared,wholesome meal.

      “My ignorance is worth as much as your knowledge” seems the new mantra here.

      As you mentioned the Chinese and their ancient culture : there are 40 million of their kids learning classical piano right now. It seems they have found something valuable there.

      • While (thankfully) not a daily occurrence, I have come across a fair few people who found a three minute pop-song at least on par with Beethoven, found a computer graphic generated in two minutes to be “epic”, while mocking a Picasso as squiggly sh*te and in whose estimation industrial junk food was bursting with flavour, while a carefully prepared, wholesome meal seems like bland, underseasoned airline food.
        The proverbial eye of the beholder is much more dispositive than many would care to admit.

      • I think this is precisely the ‘fear’ Lebrecht speaks about in the interview. That HUGE assumption that something cannot be both artistic and commercially viable.

        Giving you the benefit of the doubt, I agree that if we take extremes (Boulez vs. Biber (Justin)), what you say is absolutely correct.

        But what about Pink Floyd? What about Radiohead? The classical composer Michael van der Aa is taking themes from Radiohead for his compositions. What about the fantastic complex music of South America, of Asia’s microtonalism.

        That’s where classical music loses the battle, in thinking that no other musical expression can possibly be as valuable just because it wasn’t composed following the ‘western’ tradition. Its very akin to religion honestly. And we know how that is going in the world right now. Fundamentalism (in religion and in music) was never a good idea.

        The old adage says “he who only purports to know about one thing, doesn’t even know about it”

        My advise, get yourself a copy of OK Computer, and listen to the entire thing – as if a symphony. Same for works of Pixinguinha, some Gagaku operas, and other types of music. If you get out of the ‘classical music box’ you’d be pleasantly surprised.

        I am pretty sure I have heard close to if not more classical music than you have. Can you say the same for other genres? There’s much more quality stuff, really amazing things, other than cheap pop.

        Now, ignorance essentially means ‘not knowing something’

        In that sense, it is clear who is more ignorant.

        • Oh dear.
          I am not attacking other ‘high cultures’ nor do I have any disregard for them.
          I am solely questioning the wisdom of the West more and more abandoning its own high culture, which can be seen e.g. by eliminating music from school curriculums.
          And pop music – Pink Floyd or not – operates along the most primitive and reduced understanding of harmony and counterpoint imaginable, a sort of kindergarden lala land of musical technique with instant gratification and immediate commercial success as the sole requirements.
          Nothing wrong with entertainment and commercial success, but this is becoming more and more the only accepted norm now,subsequently there is no need to teach music any more.
          “High culture” from other countries doesn’t fare well in this scenario either, it never gets even mentioned.
          Your idea of multiculturalism reminds me of some kind of slightly lunatic event, where we all put on some funny hats and pretend to be somebody else for one evening whilst having forgotten our own cultural background.

    • Just a few words of correction…. Classical music belongs to the genre of high culture, and high culture belongs to the centre of ANY civilization, as a core of achievement representing the best that that civilization contributed to humanity, and by which it will be remembered, and which continues to influence humanity long after it has fizzled-out. We are no longer bothered very much by the old Greeks’ slave labour laws, but their literature and plays still have much to say to us. Etc. etc….. The current problem of Western (European) civilization is, that many of its owners get bored of it and no longer understand it, and expose their ignorance on sites which still try to keep something of the flame alive.

      Maybe there’s a library around the corner? Wholeheartedly & politely recommended.

      • Right, because the ONLY civilization that produced high culture is the western civilization right?

        That kind of thinking is 1) self serving and 2) disgusting. Indians have a 3000 year old music tradition, that’s not ‘high culture’.

        I agree then, that in a globalized world, the major achievements of ALL the civilizations should be represented EQUALLY in our society. But that’s not what is being proposed here. Where is the outcry to support more Chinese music education in Europe? Why should European kids not learn Japanese opera? According to your description of what a high civilization is, Europe is less civilized than China then, because now they have excellence in multiple art traditions, not just the western.

        No, cultural egalitarianism is not the agenda. The agenda is still the same old-fart argument: My music is the best, its more ‘civilized’ than yours because yours was not composed in the ‘correct’ style. Very much like the arguments used by the Ayatollah, or any other fundamentalist leaders around the world.

        When you – oh enlightened sir – visit those libraries, try for once the ‘non western’ section: you might be pleasantly surprised to find out that – UNBELIEVABLE – other societies, and other cultures ALSO produce high art. You talk about Greek Tragedies being still relevant – and they are – but what about Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Tao te Ching? Or are those ‘less’ valuable than your euro-centric ‘culture’? Any reasonable person would not dare put one over the other. They ALL represent the best that our collective world has produced, in different civilizations.

        Now, where is Indian music most developed? IMAGINE THAT- IN INDIA! Chinese music? IN CHINA! surely not in Arkansas. So why should Classical Western music be any different, because of your arrogance and self importance?

        Well – the world has answered, and will continue to answer: #sorrynotsorry

        • “Right, because the ONLY civilization that produced high culture is the western civilization right?” That was not said at all, just read again.

          Every civilization has its own high culture and they all contribute to the whole of humanity.

          “Where is the outcry to support more Chinese music education in Europe? Why should European kids not learn Japanese opera?” It is normal that in Europe, European culture should dominate. As it is normal that in India, Indian cutlure should, and in China, Chinese. The popularity of Western classical music in China may erode their own traditional music which would be a great loss. But it is of some significance that Western classical music in China often is a symbol of modern development – why would that be so? (I rest my case.)

          “The agenda is still the same old-fart argument: My music is the best, its more ‘civilized’ than yours because yours was not composed in the ‘correct’ style. Very much like the arguments used by the Ayatollah, or any other fundamentalist leaders around the world.” Again, that was not said AT ALL. The ayatollah could never argue with substantial evidence that he was right. In some ways, Western classical music – so, pre-modernist music – is superior to all other traditional musical cultures. In some other ways, it is inferior. One thing stands-out: Western classical music is more pluralistic, more varied, more capable of expressing / representing the various life experiences of man than ANY other traditional culture. Does that make Western classical music superior, in general terms? No, only in the mentioned restricted sense. You see, things are a little bit more complicated and nuanced than it may look on first sight.

          The rest of the rant does not deserve serious opposition because based upon misreading…. maybe a matter of trying other glasses…. or another therapist. The Tao te Ching is great, by the way, and the I Ching is in many ways superior to Western treatment of synchronicity, but that only becomes visible with the right glasses.

          But seriously, the best of all cultures of the world complement each other and together they form the great monument of humanity’s better aspirations. But that does not mean that people in the West should denigrate their own heritage and prefer other cultures to their own. That merely means that they no longer belong to that culture.

          In today’s global world, you can choose your culture, choosing the one who suits your personality best. And there are quite some people doing just that. So, European kids feeding with Chinese culture would be better while being in China and spending their life there.

          • At heart, we agree. But then what is the cultural argument to purport the idea that there NEEDS to be an orchestra in say, Sacramento california?

            Sure, its technically still “the west” but do you really buy the argument that Beethoven is THE highest manifestation of the cultural legacy of the 40 million hispanics that populate the USA? Of African Americans? Seriously?

            I completely agree that if Mannheim closes its conservatory in orded to teach “pop” music, all the alarms should sound. But if a conservatory or an orchestra fails in Mankato, why be surprised?

            Now, t pernicious virus of cultural superiority overcomes you, even when you try to sound pluralist: “western classical music….is more capable of expressing/representing the life experiences of man more than ANY other traditional culture”. Says WHO? You? Who made you the ultimate juror of what represents the emotions of mankind?

            AGAIN, and AGAIN, and AGAIN the arrogance. There no other word for it.

            Seriously now, this must be one of the poorest arguments I’ve ever seen: “classical music is the thing that best represents mankinds emotions and feelings (regarless of cultural baclground), but now mankind doesnt give a crap about it anymore, so we need education to force feed this music to them, so they realize that in fact this is the music that truly represents what the whole world feels”

            See how idiotic that sounds? In fact, all the empirical evidence of crossover projects, orchestras failing, and artists diluting the music they play insinuate that in fact this is a type of art that represents the feelings and emotions of a very reduced and diminishing number of people, mostly in western Europe (as one would expect). How on earth can you prove your point that “western music” surpasses any other in any way?

            No. Its europes artform, and europe should care about preserving it, not idaho.

            Asfor the fetish of China, and the proverbial 40 million Pianists, sorry to break your wettest dreams guys but it has NOTHING to do with the quality of your art. Its all about business.

            I was recently in china, not to drool about classical music like most classical mjsicians do,but to know their business practices. It turns out that once the markets opened, there are 2 things going on: great ignorance about quality, and lots of $$ and demand for new goods and services.

            China has gotten into a craze for all things european. Just in 2013 china consumed 3x the production of wine of Bordeaux. Does this mean that Chinese people habe a great taste for wine now?? Absolutely not, it just means some chinese dude made a fortune selling grape juice for French wine.

            In China, for many years the most luxurious car you could own was a Buick. They compared it with a Rolls Royce.

            What happens now, with wine, with buick and with classical music, is that the consumer knows better. The wine market crashed ala Tulip crisis in Amsterdam. Buicks are losing market share, and all those millions of pianists well, will need to become liberace’s because the fad is over. People know better now, in Wine, in cars and in music.

            So, dont hold your breadth. Theres NO demand to feed 40 million pianists. And they wont star audiencemembers forever. China embraces at first. Then moves on.

            We’ll see.

  • For many people, and for some people on this blog – I won’t mention names because that would be too embarrassing – the modern world consists of one big supermarket where all value can ony be expressed in terms of price. Postmodernism and multiculturalism has led them to conclude that there are no universal values, no universal artistic standards, and that ANY assessment or judgement of a work of art can only be a subjective, particular and ephemeral opinion. Why is only art exempt from the normal attempt to find ‘the best?’ We give much importance to the question whether the hospital where we will be operated upon, is any good, and that is not supposed to be a mere subjective opinion but should rest upon some objective standard. But in art? In music? Of course there are objective standards, which are defined by practice and comparison, not alone by mere rational proof, although rationality plays a hughe part in any art form, both at the creating and the receiving end. But people not understanding this, consider it all arrogant crap. The anxiety caused by anything ‘hierarchic’ is a result of the egalitarian world view…. which is a sorry product of Western decadence. Throwing-away the family jewels because of getting bored of them and replacing them by plastic bracelets, is only to be gravely pitied.

    The idea that all world cultures have the same ‘value’ is as nonsensical as stating that they are hierarchically organized, the Western colonial history has amply demonstrated how dangerous it is to presume Western superiority before understanding other cultures. On a state visit of some Indian Maharadja, Queen VIctoria gave him a copy of the bible, stating that it was this book that had led to the might of the British Empire. But the other extreme is as ridiculous…. to think that every culture should be respected and appreciated no matter what. Religious circumcision is a religiously-defined practice of great craziness, as is the burning of widows in colonial India – fortunately prohibited by the British. But the best of the world cultures come very close to shared universal values, as will be clear for everybody who has taken the trouble to read about them. Goethe was very surprised to discover that an old Chinese play treated the same subject as his ‘Hermann und Dorothea’ and almost in the very same way, on which he had to conclude that deep-down humans share much more than may be visible at the surface. So it is with art music. Primitive generalizations about millions of people trying to cultivate European classical music leaves-out the number of more than excellent musicians that may be produced in this way. And so on….

    • The best comment I’ve seen on any blog for a long time. Postmodernism and Multiculturalism — Yes! Therein lies the essence of our problem in toto.

      • For people suffering from a profound dislike of anything cultural, postmodern thought is a gift from heaven, because it gives them the perfect excuse to openly denigrate what they always secretly had envied.

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