Classical blog shuts down: ‘It’s not the business that needs changing, it’s the people’

Classical blog shuts down: ‘It’s not the business that needs changing, it’s the people’


norman lebrecht

January 27, 2016

One of the longest-running classical blogs, Sticks and Drones, has come to the end of its useful life, or so its co-authors have decided.

Conductors Bill Eddins and Ron Spigelman started sharing their thoughts on September 14, 2007.  They covered the US orchestral scene and achieved a committed, sometimes passionate, readership. But now they have concluded that nothing’s going to change, so why bother?

Here’s Bill’s parting shot:

william eddins

Despite our best efforts I’m really wondering if S&D had any kind of impact on the profession that we love. Looking across the landscape there is … well, the usual madness. Strange disputes in Fort Worth, Grand Rapids, and Hartford that are based on the usual touchpoints – lack of vision, trust, and money – tho’ the last is a direct consequence of the first two. Meanwhile, the juggernauts keep on juggernauting, oblivious to what is actually happening in classical music, the non-profit equivalent of “too big to fail.” There are a few bright spots, and I’m delighted that The Minnesota Orchestra is one. It is possible that they might forge a different path worth emulating. (Although I recently did set foot in that monstrosity of a new foyer that untold millions was wasted on. Ugh.)

But all and all not much has changed, which leads me to the inevitable conclusion that it’s not the business that needs changing, it’s the people. The problems in Hartford, Grand Rapids, and Fort Worth wouldn’t happen with the proper leadership on all sides, and that includes Board, Administration, and Musicians. This is hard to come by, as shown by the very public disaster at Carnegie Hall last year. Having two outta three doesn’t cut it. On the flip side of that coin is the aforementioned Minnesota Orchestra, where leadership in all three departments has led to an astonishing turnaround. Did the model change in Minnesota? Sure, but not as much as the people did.

Continues here.


  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Bill is spot on with his assessment of culture vs. tradition. The bottom line is, all ‘serious’ musical devotees need to work double and triple hard to instill the age-old values of ‘music appreciation’ where it has been relaxed or removed from our youth’s school education. Whether or not the young eventually ‘took’ to classic music traditions, they were exposed to it in their childhood education system. It has become increasingly difficult to assure they are exposed to what is truly ‘great’ and what constitutes a ‘masterpiece’ as ‘Maestro’ Eddins shares here. Few are as candid and brutally honest as he is, and we often need a wake-up call. (Although he reserves the right to be dubbed ‘Maestro’ to those who earn it and should be ages 60+, he deserves the title as a dedicated leader of tradition in music.)

  • Milka says:

    it is call evolution , claiming that proper leadership,its the people that need changing is
    ludicrous if not outright stupid , There was a time when the thought that to be considered
    a complete person so called classical music was part of the equation,it became pecker
    matching with the mighty & rich having their own orchestras , musicians . times change
    the mighty ,the rich ,the masses have realized that what to them is a full and
    happy life need not include Mozart , Bach, Beethoven etc. they pick their
    own entertainments much to the dismay of “classical music lovers worshipping at the
    altar of the long departed.For good or bad it is evolution and all the deplorable phony entrepreneurship classes now taught in universities and conservatories cannot
    change what is.It must be remembered that Mozart, Bach etc . are not closed doors
    to the public ,that to the general public which now includes the rich the powerful they are way down the list if there at all. If it were otherwise you would have Sunday TV symphony
    instead of millions of people watching grown men run up and down a field over a ball.

    • Michael Endres says:

      Yeah, evolution.
      So if the majority of people are hellbent on lets say destroying the environment then we just let them get on with it, after all we are good democrats and its called evolution.
      I guess you feed your kids Junk Food as a staple diet, as the little ones love it, don’t they ?
      Classical music is not necessary for survival and there are other musical entertainments ( which I enjoy very much too, I am a sucker for old broadway musicals ), but
      why we should subscribe our education system to the lowest common denominator ( effectively stop teaching more complex musical ideas ) is beyond me.
      If you apply the same idiotic principle to other subjects then you end up with what the greater Cleveland area already has: over 60% functionally illiterate people.

  • Milka says:

    Don’t know if you are playing dense…the environment and junk food have little relevance
    to an entertainment pastime.People choose their diversions based on the pleasure the
    diversion brings them ..there is no explaining taste.
    Evolution is not a principle .

  • MacroV says:

    I will be sorry to see the blog go; I love Bill Eddins’ commentary. Fascinating insights into the music world and the thought process of a very intelligent musicians.