New music magazine shuts down

New music magazine shuts down


norman lebrecht

December 30, 2019

Composition:Today shut down this morning after ten years.

You can read the final posting here.

Editor Christian Morris says, ‘The site will remain live for now, but will probably close fully some time in the coming months.’

C:T offered among other benefits:

– a jobs, competitions and opportunities listing;
– website build, including MP3 samples of your work
– interviews with new-music faces
– and a soundbank resource, where you could listen to real instrument sounds organised by range and technique.

Going, going, gone.


  • Heinrichs says:


    New music is that dead ugly charlatanry, that people over the decades tried to sell you, by clothing it
    – in clever sounding (but pretentious) philosophical words,
    – in an air of elitist (but snobbish and untruthful) atmosphere,
    – in direction of progress (missing the utter emptiness it actually brings with it)
    – in mystical otherworldly stellar intergalactic cosmic relevance (showing that shamefully limited, pseudo-random nonsense can really be sold as such).

    Ultimately… new music, is a music that relies on trust in OTHERS.
    Yes, it is the ultimate music of submission. Submission below… the constructor (cannot really call him composer).

    How very cold and modern indeed!

    Or, if you like quotes…

    “History will say—history says now—that the 12-tone movement was ultimately a dead end, and that the long modernist movement that followed it was a failure.”

    “Deeply flawed at their musical and philosophical roots, unloving and oblivious to human limits and human needs, these movements left us with far too many works that are at best unloved, at worst detested. They led modern classical music to crisis, confusion, and, in many quarters, despair, to a sense that we’ve wasted decades.”

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      I feel sympathy for most of your arguments against Modernism in Music as it happened. However, I would not want Music to be frozen in time year 1904 (when Verdi died), or that every new work would sound like Tchaikovskij’s (the ideal of Soviet music). And Modernism was not the first time ‘avantgarde music’ stopped in a dead end – just think about certain polyphonic Church Music in the end of the XV Century, that was sometimes almost as inaudible as a work by Lachenmann and that was ‘terminated’ by occasion of the Counter Reformation. Modernism in Music needs its Counter Reformation – and it is by the way just happening.

      • Kolb Slaw says:

        Classical music is not timebound, that is the colossal mistake in music education, leading students to think it is like an industrial product and must go with the times. Utterly wrong. All kinds of music have pretty much always existed in some way all along. It’s just what you focus on. If all you want to see is serial atonalism, that’s all you will see. The fact is, until the ultra-modernists came along, there was a continuity of strength in classical music that was colossal. And many mainstream composers kept it going, despite the academics. They just get too little respect, except from audiences. As for a “counter-reformation,” I wonder if you mean pseudo-neo-Romantic composers who are writing Hallmark junk as if they understand that kind of music, which they do not.

        • John Borstlap says:

          Because new tonal/traditional music can be compared with existing works, flaws are quickly detected. But there are truly gifted, authentic composers around nowadays handling the tonal languages perfectly well, like Nicolas Bacri, David Matthews, Jose Sebrier (whose Elegy is a beautiful and authentic piece:, Thierry Escaich, James Francis Brown, Paul Moravec, Danial Asia, Jonathan Leshnoff…. and more.

          • George says:

            Not really many…

            I always did know, that handing tonal music well is really difficult.
            i.e. to really compose (in the best meaning of that word) is “difficult”, at least for us living today.

            But modernists cannot compose at all. Which is easy to see, because no atonal modernist will ever be able to write a Christmas carol, that will be sung.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Heinrichs writes: “New music is that dead ugly charlatanry”

      Old music was new music once.

      • Marc says:

        Good attempt, but this is an out-of-context statement; since what you are trying to infer with this statement, is lacking of any true causality.

        There is no single logical progression of music.

        In particular, there is no progression that could ever justify atonal crappy garbage (think Brian Ferneyhough, etc.) becoming widely loved by more than a few thousand snobbish elitist self-deluding individuals, who feel really good about themselves, and completely overrate their own importance and position (to the common man), but alas have incredibly infiltrated our universities and conservatories, with their subversive clever-sounding (yet pretentious) charlatanry: a potent mix of wishful thinking and the modernist “promise of progress”.

  • Heinrichs says:

    References for the quotes…

    “History will say—history says now—that the 12-tone movement was ultimately a dead end, and that the long modernist movement that followed it was a failure.”

    “Deeply flawed at their musical and philosophical roots, unloving and oblivious to human limits and human needs, these movements left us with far too many works that are at best unloved, at worst detested. They led modern classical music to crisis, confusion, and, in many quarters, despair, to a sense that we’ve wasted decades.”


  • Heinrichs says:

    Did I mention that modernism is basically leaving behind all traditions (or the “destruction of tradition” if you like)?
    Because it is.

    Let me quote from metapedia… wait… uh no sorry… it really is from wikipedia:
    “Modernism, in general, includes the activities and creations of those who felt the traditional forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, philosophy, social organization, activities of daily life, and sciences were becoming ill-fitted to their tasks and outdated in the new economic, social, and political environment of an emerging fully industrialized world.”

    Modern music, for a bloody modernist… brave new world.

  • anon says:

    Perhaps “Heinrichs” can arrange one of those Schandausstellungen (“shame exhibitions”) that began to appear in Germany in 1933. His ignorant and vociferous views remind one of unfortunate histories:

    “If artists do see fields blue they are deranged, and should go to an asylum. If they only pretend to see them blue, they are criminals and should go to prison.” (Adolf Hitler)

    “Anybody who paints and sees a sky green and pastures blue ought to be sterilized.” (Adolf Hitler)

    etc., etc.

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      A frequent problem with certain critics is that they are unsuccessful artists. That one you quote had his admission to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna rejected twice.

    • Senya says:

      You lost any validity or credibility, the moment you decided all-of-a-sudden, out-of-the-blue…
      to pull in Hitler.

      (there’s even a term for this: REDUCTIO AD HITLERUM)

      • Marc says:

        Indeed. That’s censorship and completely against free speech.
        Even Hitler’s art-criticism is a valid view on art, that one should be able to hold today, should one so wish.

        Demonizing a view, by way of a twisted hypermorality that links the view with the morals and behaviour of the messanger, is invalid.
        This is similar to “don’t shoot the messanger”.
        It’s also similar to “ban knifes, because someone might stab someone fatally”.

        To try and discredit or ban the view, by summoning “Hitler”, is often when one desperately tries to establish a faulty causality.

        • Pierre Vermont says:


          And nobody and nothing is beyond criticism.
          (It does not matter if you are a lesbian, jewish, black, woman writing atonal modernist music, or whatever.)

          Nobody and nothing is immune from criticism.

          Because hey look: it’s art criticism! It’s a viewpoint! There are many possible viewpoints.
          To attempt to smear criticism of modernism in music, based on historic events, is:
          – faulty and
          – (as was written above)… it is desperately trying to establish a faulty causality.

        • anon says:

          Anyone can be a critic, and some sound more like reactionary tyrants than others.

      • Pierre says:

        Yes. Nobody and nothing is beyond criticism.

        Trying to smear “criticism of modernism”, based on some historic events or persons is a rather low.

        Nobody and nothing is immune from criticism.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Critique on modernism is sometimes understood as expressing sympathy for fascism, because the nazis did not like modernism either. However, this is a grave mistake. The idea behind such thinking is: if the nazis disliked something, it must be good, because what they liked was bad. Curiously, vegetarianism did escape this fate (Hitler was vegetarian and did not drink alcohol and did not smoke – does one have to eat steaks, smoke Havanas and drink whiskey the whole day to prove that one is not a fascist?).

      The nazi dislike of modernism was used, in postwar Western music life, as an argument to bolster the morally-right nature of modernism in all the arts, much helped by soviet instructions to artists to keep to tradition. This intellectually-dishonest manoeuvre made any real discussion of modernism impossible – it merely covered-up the fascist way of thinking at the heart of modernism, as can easily be detected.

      This is all very ironic since the fascism and communism were themselves products of modernism: to destroy humanism, to destroy the past, to create an entirely new world with new values, to use technology to dominate, suppress and murder entire populations, etc. The architect Leon Krier, pioneering with new forms of traditional building and city planning along humanist lines – another way of defining modernity – has shown that modernist architecture took as one of its strongest examples the military architecture of the nazis like the Atlantik Wall (he also pointed to the fact that the Jews were not murdered in classical buildings but in modernist industrial buildings.)

      So, any critique on the critique of modernism is fascist in itself, without realizing it. A little bit of thinking often can help to clear the mental mists.

      The aureole of moral superiority surrounding post-1945 modernism and its forerunners from the interbellum is an unintentional present from the nazis, not an inherent characteristic of the art form, and the association with the Holocaust (after 1945 modernism as the only morally acceptable option) an entirely dishonest annexation of a moral catastrophe to enhance the legitimacy of the ‘avantgarde’.

    • CozyComfort says:

      Hitler also:

      “And we will see to it that from now on the people in particular will once again be called upon to judge their art.”

      German Original: “Und wir werden dafür Sorge tragen, daß gerade das Volk von jetzt ab wieder zum Richter über seine Kunst aufgerufen wird.”

      I suppose he would have loved comments-sections in blogs.

    • Bud Gerhard says:

      Hitler’s record collection in the Führerbunker (Hitler’s underground shelter during World War II), did include a Tchaikovsky violin concerto featuring the violinist Bronisław Huberman, a Polish Jew.

  • SVM says:

    I trust and hope that the editors (and/or the general public) will be saving the articles for posterity through an internet-archive service such as’s Wayback Machine (subject to copyright), insofar as such articles have not been saved already. If there an article/page that is important to you, please check that it has been saved in this way — go to for details of how this works and how it can be done.

    It would also be helpful if, just before closing the website for good, the webmaster could place a 301 redirect to the version of each page. A simple step that will help reduce (slightly) the blight of 404 errors (at least when it comes to search-engine indexing).

  • Kolb Slaw says:

    I’ve never heard of it, which is typical for what I assume was yet another online publication. What we need are classical music magazines that are not so specialized, ones that can appeal to many readers. Britain has several or many, the USA has none. No one has any courage, it seems. The New Yorker has proved that subscriptions alone can pay all the costs of a print magazine, and a classical music magazine could have many more readers.
    One of the problems is the constant negativity of too many classical musicians, the negativity of focusing on reviews and “news” about the business side of music. That’s what killed Musical America, in my view. That, and that it is difficult to be both a good writer and a good musician, and able to write well about music as well as people. Nevertheless, the writing talent is out there, and can be cultivated.
    All that is needed is an editor with vision, and publisher with courage.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Since music is the most ephemeral art form, and so intricately related to subjective experience, it is very difficult to write about it in a way that is accessible to music lovers, without dumbing it down.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Norman seems to succeed (or at least he would claim to succeed).

        You, of course, show how difficult it can be.

        • John Borstlap says:

          What I write about music is for people with some more time on their hands than a quick look between two TV programs, so that they can let the subject sink into the regions where thinking begins.