US musicologist calls for Beethoven ban

US musicologist calls for Beethoven ban


norman lebrecht

January 08, 2020

The Chicago Tribune has published an article by a Smith College musicologist Andrea Moore, calling for the performances of Beethoven to be eliminated in his 2020 anniversary year and replaced by the works of living composers.

The eye-catching headline was: Commentary: Beethoven was born 250 years ago. To celebrate, how about we ban his music for a year?

It’s a silly-season piece that adds little to the sum of arts appreciation. The unreality of her proposition – that concertgoers will be just as happy to pay for new-music concerts as they are for Beethoven – belongs to an ivory-tower glass turret.

Smith College has this to shafre about Dr Moore:

Andrea Moore is a musicologist specializing in new classical music and concert culture since 1989. She earned her doctorate in musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2016 and was a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Riverside in 2016–17. She is at work on two projects. The first examines the politics of identity and representation in new classical music of the post-Cold War period, and argues that musical multiculturalism was crucial to the concept of musical progress in the 1990s. Her second project, “Musical Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” examines the structures of musical life under late capitalism and focuses on musical entrepreneurship, multicultural neoliberalism and the rise of the discourse and labor of “curation.”



  • Bob says:

    Well, one might hope he might get programmed a little less frequently than usual in 2021. Ditto Mahler symphonies to be honest. There is so much good music out there that orchestras have no excuse to continue to limit themselves to the same old warhorses.

    • Robert Roy says:

      Coming from Scotland, my ‘local’ symphony orchestra is the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Now I’m sure, if they wanted, they could abandon the standard repertoire and filtheir season with new music and commission works left, right and centre. I’m sure the percussion department would be delighted since there always seems to be colossal amounts of Percussion! (And a violin solo. No modern Orchestral work seems to be complete with a violin solo!)

      So far so good – EXCEPT no one will buy tickets! Having been an RSNO subscriber for over 40 years I’ve yet to hear a commissioned work repeated! ABSOLUTELY NEVER!

      Now I’m not advocating that any Orchestra doesn’t play new music it’s just that, frankly, it’s just not memorable and seems to fail to strike a chord with audiences.

      • Kolb Slaw says:

        There is good and great music, it’s just not heard or supported.

      • John Borstlap says:

        “…….. it’s just not memorable and seems to fail to strike a chord with audiences.”

        It is a cultural thing. Much new music which makes it to be performed by a symphony orchestra, is not really funtioning according to the fundamentals of the performance culture of the medium. Or said differently: the new works chosen to be performed, are more often than not chosen with the idea that they should, somehow, represent modernity. And this notion of modernity is more often than not, a misunderstood modernity, as if ‘modern times’ force us to restrict our minds to a small number of choices.

        Since orchestras are considered a remnant of bygone ages and of a culture that no longer exists – in terms of writing for them – the idea behind programming new music is that it should somehow ‘anchor’ the orchestra within the context of our own time, to somehow ensure its viability and survival in times which seem to increasingly get away from the periods in which the classical repertoire was written. Ironically, since the choices are so often based upon a narrow and misunderstood notion of modernity (a straightjacket, with taboos), the choices effect the opposite: what is experienced as ‘modern’ by audiences, somehow does not fit in the symphonic culture, and does not appeal to classical music audiences. And this confirms the museum character of the genre.

        In short: the fear of being seen as ‘conservative’ by NOT programming pieces which reflect ‘modernity’, is self-defeating. Trying to find new music which is both new, and in the same time respects the symphonic culture, is not conservative, because that music is still very much alive. For instance, this piece by Nicolas Bacri bridges the gap between existing repertoire and new creation, but the reason that we don’t hear it often in the orchestral circuit is, that programmers fear that it is ‘conservative’, because it sounds as if written by a Russian some 50 years ago:

      • Marian says:

        Did you see the Danny Elfman Violin Concerto that they commissioned last year?

    • Louise says:

      2020 is a Beethoven anniversery year. Dont’ forget Bob.

    • Dennis says:

      Well, the orchestra nearest me is playing Mahler’s 5th next Saturday, but they last played a Mahler Symphony (the 2nd) in October 2016. Once every 3 years is hardly overstuffing the programs with Mahler (I’d prefer at least one a year).

    • nomen nescio says:

      “New” music is dead on arrival. Woke academics are entertaining, though.

    • nomen nescio says:

      “There is so much good music out there that orchestras have no excuse to”…perform “new” music, which dies not with the composer, but the premiere. Woke academics may endlessly study the dead horses, of course.

  • Tamino says:

    “She is at work on two projects. The first examines the politics of identity and representation in new classical music of the post-Cold War period, and argues that musical multiculturalism was crucial to the concept of musical progress in the 1990s. Her second project, “Musical Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” examines the structures of musical life under late capitalism and focuses on musical entrepreneurship, multicultural neoliberalism and the rise of the discourse and labor of “curation.”

    Oh dear. All worthy undertakings.

    Could you play or sing a little song now please?
    My heart is craving for one.

    • V.Lind says:

      Yeah — that “rise of the discourse (where? by whom?) and labor [sic] of “curation” ” has me just gagging for details. Or just gagging.

      What a load of tosh.

      • Guest says:

        In the U. S., we correctly spell it “labor.” I’m sure you’ve noticed that for certain words, we use a “z” where you use an “s,” as in “criticize,” as well.

        • V.Lind says:

          For certain words you use “ite” where we would use “ight.” You do not seem to be able to get your heads around the ending “re” so switch to the more phonetic “er.” You can’t differentiate between nouns and verbs so constantly mis-spell “practise,” but have invented “defense.”

          No, thanks. You’re the adaptors, we’re the originators. We’ll stick with the grown-up versions.

          • Guest says:

            Ms. V. Lind, my comment was not meant as an attack on your way of spelling. I was merely pointing out that this is one of those cases where we have decided, for whatever reason, to spell something differently than the “originators.”

            I usually like your comments on this blog. Because this was uncharacteristically hostile and defensive, I apologize for the misunderstanding.

          • V.Lind says:

            Not hostile — I took exception to “correctly spell it.” The use if [sic] was only there to indicate that it was spelled that way in the original text, not by me, who uses the British (and Canadian, and Australian, etc.) spelling. Where I come from, that spelling IS incorrect.

            I try not to be unfair. For some reason some years ago, I found myself in a discussion involving reference to the American TV show “Dynasty,” not something I watched (though I did watch “Dallas,” so it’s not a snob thing). My English host was pronouncing the title the way the British do. (I will forswear from using your word “correctly,” leaving the comment of my host to make the point). I mentioned the way it was pronounced where it was made and released. My host said, wryly, “I think we know more about dynasties than the Americans.” I pointed out that that was irrelevant — the title of the show was a proprietary name and as such ought to be pronounced in the American fashion.

            Just do not pronounce the title of Hardy’s play to sound like “The Die-nasts.”

          • Peter San Diego says:

            It was the lexicographer Noah Webster who, in the early 19th century, codified what he considered practical simplifications to British orthography that made phonetic sense to a new nation that included many immigrants from non-anglophone countries.

            Recently, British English has incorporated more than its share of Americanisms, as discussed in a recent issue of The Economist (aka the newsweekly for adults), so the balance of adaptation and influence has essentially evened out — for better and/or worse.

          • V.Lind says:

            I’d like to read that but could use a link. The grownup rag I subscribe to is the Spec (I need to know what the other side is thinking). Back in the day I used to get the Economist in hard copy, and I still take a look at it occasionally.

          • Sue Sonata Form says:

            It’s the butchering of adverbs that has me laughing. Anyway, all language evolves. That doesn’t necessarily signal an improvement, BTW.

          • Make America Sane Again says:

            Well, we on the west side of the pond originated the idea of a bad-haired bloviating buffoon as national leader. Why you Brits chose to copy that model is beyond me. That said, at least your guy bloviates in complete sentences.

          • Tromba in F says:

            Obama didn’t have unruly hair.

          • Roger says:

            “…get your heads around…?”

      • Hairy Sweaty Guy says:

        Do you mean porn-style gagging at those BIG words?

    • Fridolf says:

      Don’t worry, you can put that discourse where your heart aught to be …

    • Mock Mahler says:

      Even granted that 95% of academic discourse is hooey, Ms. Moore is seriously behind the curve. The “cold war liberalism” horse has been flogged since the 1990s, “multiculturalism” has been replaced by “transnationalism,” and as for “identity politics,” that’s been co-opted by Hollywood.

  • Nik says:

    Is it actually possible these days to have a PhD thesis accepted, in any field, that doesn’t refer to “neoliberalism” and “the politics of identity”?

  • Konas Jaufmann says:

    I call for a leftist nonsense ban.

  • Paul Dawson says:

    Stories like this add to my admiration of Beecham’s “A musicologist is someone who can read music, but not hear it.”

  • Alan says:

    How about we just ban her instead?

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    I have never understood why people flock into art galleries to consume mostly worthless visual art of the last 70-80 years. The composers , even the less impressive ones, were & are immeasurably greater, but never accepted by the concert going public. There are still very talented people working in music, but one cannot say the same in visual arts, which is populated with charlatans, but they have an audience. Would banning Beethoven win more audience for modern music? No.

    • Calvin says:

      Perhaps because some people somehow think it a point of anti-intellectual pride to proclaim to the high heavens that they do not understand the art of their own time when, in fact, it is a self-indictment no different than not understanding current literature.

    • Bruce says:

      It’s true that lots of people go to see modern art, but I have also noticed that when there is a big show by a major dead artist (Vermeer, Rembrandt, Picasso) the lines of people waiting to get in go around the block.

      • John Borstlap says:

        But in our own times, if a Vermeer would somewhere be living and working, he would not be noticed – not because he would be ‘too difficult’ for his contemporaries, but because a quality filter in public space is lacking. He would be considered irrelevant, because he would not pander to the craziness of the established contemporary art world.

    • fflambeau says:

      I agree and so much of this “art” is fake. For a real takedown of painted art see the excellent Patricia Highsmith novel “Ripley Underground” (wherein Ripley plays the part of the reclusive painter “Derwart”). It’s all about the scams in the art world.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Why this cherry picking of musicology news that are so controversial (to put it mildly)? All this is not representative of the field.

    Out of curiosity, I just glanced at Cambridge UP’s forthcoming issues and saw a new book on Bach’s B Minor Mass.

    Publishers like keep turning up excellent new editions.

    There is no shortage of useful contributions from musicologists, despite the nonsense SlippedDisc diligently and misleadingly brings to our attention.

    • Dr Barbara Eichner says:

      Thank you! Sadly this page and its followers enjoy slagging off musicology – all writing and thinking about music – as an aberration.

      • V.Lind says:

        What do “musical entrepreneurship, multicultural neoliberalism and the rise of the discourse and labor of “curation” ” have to do with musicology?

        I think what is being “slagged off” here is pretentiosity, trendy jargon and meaningless terminology. The silly bint should read some Orwell, and then some Strunk and White, and learn to express herself in plain English. That kind of weaselly language implies a woolly mind.

        • david perlman says:

          “bint is British slang for a woman or girl, but it is always disparaging and offensive and signals the user as lower class and unrefined. It’s also now rather dated. The word is Arabic for a daughter, specifically one who has yet to bear a child”

          • V.Lind says:

            Well aware of its origins and applications, and chose accordingly. It is slightly less disparaging than the first word that came to mind, but which I tend not to use as it is unfair to dogs..

        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          I think we should throw some of these words and expressions in the direction of the wonderful Ricky Gervais to experience a decent rendering of them!!!

      • Paul Dawson says:

        When a musicologist, psychologist, biologist, zoologist or any other ologist goes public ludicrously, they must expect contempt and they do their ology no favours at all.

        • V.Lind says:

          This one has something to do with Sociology. No more need be said!

          • Bone says:

            My favo(u)rite college non-music course was sociology! I enjoyed regularly telling the professor that his social science was bull. We had such fun debating.

      • Ian Pace says:

        Agreed – some of the sensationalist claims from musicologists get a lot more attention than the work of many others who are pursuing diligent but less headline-grabbing work. Unfortunately such sensationalism can be encouraged in modern academia.

        Without musicology of one type or another, few would have the basic historical texts from which they started to learn something about the nature of repertoire and how it developed. Nor the basic music theory upon which many musicians draw at some point during their development. Of course what musicologists do may seem very esoteric in comparison, but ultimately at best it does feed into all of this. Think of all the repertoire which was practically unknown before the twentieth-century, and has been unearthed and able to be performed because of the work of musicologists.

      • Alexander Tarak says:

        That’s probably because a lot of music “scholarship” deserves to be slagged off.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        I have a lot of books in my library from musicologists, which have increased my love and understanding of art music exponentially.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    I experience this musicologist’s call as hate speech.

  • Rustier spoon says:


  • MooreBeethoven says:

    Who will remember Ms. Moore in 250 years let alone 250 minutes? Enough said.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Interestingly, her two projects smell with the same odour as the appropriation of classical music for political and commercial purposes: exploitation, using the music as a vehicle for something that has nothing to do with music.

  • Yes! Let’s program music by a contemporary composer who is also the most brilliant and famous soloist in the world who writes vivid works unshakeable from the mind on first and repeated hearings, performed by the composer him/herself.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Also in his time, audiences had to get used to Beethoven’s music, and next to much enthusiasm there also was regular critique and not only from the ignorati.

  • Monsoon says:

    Not playing Beethoven at all this anniversary year is silly, but is anyone here really going to disagree that when the Beethoven symphonies and piano concertos are already among the most programmed orchestral pieces, and 13 percent of all concerts feature a Beethoven piece, playing a complete cycle in 2020 doesn’t look all that different than any given orchestra’s season? I bet on average, orchestras perform 3 of the symphonies, 2 piano concertos, and 2 overtures each season.

    • Dennis says:

      “I bet on average, orchestras perform 3 of the symphonies, 2 piano concertos, and 2 overtures each season.” I wish!

      Well, my local symphony (The Louisville Orchestra) has just one Beethoven work programmed for the current season, his 8th Symphony. Last year they did the 9th (and that was preceded on the program by the première of a new work by LO musical director/conductor Teddy Abrams). They are playing Mahler’s 5th next week (and last played one of his symphonies, the 2nd, in 2016).

      Also on the programs this season are works by the following: Schoenberg, Bizet, Ravel, Gershwin, Saint-Saens, Dvorak, Sibelius, Neustadter, J. L. Adams, Debussy, Schoenfield, Schuman, Tilson Thomas (!), Mendelssohn, R. Strauss, Anna Clyne, Grieg, Brahms, Mason Bates, Jacob Duncan, Missy Mazzoli, Rachmaninoff, Rachel Grimes, Angelica Negron, Shara Nova, Caroline Shaw, Sarah Kirkland-Snider, and Bartok.

      Hardly the glut of Beethoven and Mahler that critics tell us dominates contemporary programs at the expense of new or less famous music.

      Not even a single Mozart work on the LO programs this season! Though last season they did the Requiem (Sussmayr ed.), coupled on the program with Monteverdi’s Vespers.

      • fflambeau says:

        Congratulations! You have an innovative conductor/music progammer (Teddy Abrams) but you must concede this is NOT what is happening at most concert halls around the world.

        The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, for instance, has Paul Lewis playing Beethoven in Jan/Feb.; Muti conducting Beethoven 2 & 5 in Feb.; Andras Schiff playing an all Beethoven program in March & April; Muti conducting Beethoven 4 & 7 in April & May; M. Pollini playing Beethoven in May; E. Kissin playing Beethoven in May; Muti conducting Beethoven 6 & 8 & 9 in June. So, lots of other music too but a very heavy dose of Beethoven. This is pretty typical.

        • GCMP says:

          But this is already part of the Beethoven 250 celebrations (the CSO started early) so you really can’t call it typical!

      • Philip says:

        Forgive me for being a bit suspicious of that long list of female-sounding composer names – which most of us have never seen before. All of those works were programmed exclusively on their merits, or does someone have an agenda here?

  • Straussian says:

    Ridiculous argument, meant to be provocative and nothing else. Typical academic drivel designed to generate reactions. Yes, I know how this works as I was one myself eons ago, in a 34-year university career…

  • Jeff says:

    It would make more sense to pair new music of living composers with works of Beethoven on programs. I am not trying to be an ass by saying this, but programming would be better if more actual musicians were involved.

    • Dennis says:

      My local symphony (Louisville Orchestra) did Beethoven’s 9th on a program last year preceded by a new work by the LO’s music director/conductor, Teddy Abrams.

      Well…let’s just say I’m not hankering after another hearing of Abrams’ work (a rather rambling, cacophonous piece which, in typical contemporary new “classical” music fashion, also featured rock/jazz-type drum kits rather than normal classical tympani and percussion, electronic keyboards/synthesizers, microphones, etc.)…but I’ll never tire of hearing more of Beethoven’s 9th.

    • Eric says:

      Which is exactly what Indianapolis SO are doing this season and next actually.

  • George says:

    How about we ban musicologists for a year and just enjoy the music, lol.

    • Tamino says:

      That’s a great idea.
      And next year we ban critics.
      The year after we ban agents.
      Great times ahead.

      • V.Lind says:

        First they came for the musicologists….nope, let them do their thing. They’re not all pseuds and virtue-signallers. Some actually contribute to the wider understanding of music’s role in the world.

  • George says:

    Maybe she should just sit down and listen.

  • Mock Mahler says:

    In my vicinity, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and National Symphony are all loading the spring with Beethoven symphonies. (Noseda and Nezet-Seguin are doing all of them; Alsop announces the Ninth with nine different orchestras on six continents–you read that right.) Even to a Beethoven lover like me, this seems an embarrassment of too few riches. Where, for example, are Fidelio and the Missa Solemnis? (I’ll tell you: Pittsburgh.)

    • LewesBird says:

      Alsop missed a trick here. She should have sought to do the Ninth with nine different orchestras on nine different continents. Why only six?

  • Rich C. says:

    I remember the Beethoven bi-centennial 50 years ago and a respected critic wrote that a proper way to honor Beethoven was (maybe) to take a pause on live performances for the entire year. Just saying that this is not a new idea by Ms. Moore.

  • MacroV says:

    There is a logic to it: A year to appreciate what a void his absence would leave in the music world.

    Though, frankly, I could go a decade or more without hearing any of his piano concertos again.

  • Dragonetti says:

    Pseud’s corner alert…any use of the word “curate” should arouse immediate suspicions. Get a life please and the rest of us will enjoy anything from any era as per usual.
    Not so much an ivory tower as one of plastic I feel. Not original at all and only suitable for discussion among similarly minded pseudo intellectuals.
    I despair sometimes, I really do.

  • Beethoven the greatest says:

    Beethoven is a living composer – his music has been played continuously for over 200 years. Instead, we are calling for a ban on people like poor Ms. Moore. Dr. Moore, I’m sorry. Beethoven did not have a doctorate.

  • Jon H says:

    If you don’t have to rely on ticket sales – you can play what you want – but if you have salaries to pay, you have to listen to the wishes of those who pay you – or you won’t stay in business very long.

    • Patrick says:

      Academia: the great protector of the impractical.

      • V.Lind says:

        That used to be a good thing, when learning was for learning’s sake and neither job training not political social engineering. would that it still were.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          Academics have always been involved in both job training. And in political social engineering (they just had very different ideas about what ought to be done in the past).

    • MacroV says:

      This is a false choice – basically Beethoven or something new and unlistenable. There’s lots of great music out there that people would love, but orchestras assume (perhaps correctly) that today’s audiences don’t know what they like – they like what they know. Orchestras almost never play the first four symphonies of Dvorak, who couldn’t write a bad tune if he tried. Neeme Jarvi made much of his career performing and recording perfectly lovely but fairly obscure repertoire.

      On Beethoven – I can do without the piano concertos or the triple concerto, but I’ll gladly take more Mass in C and Missa Solemis.

  • Alexander Tarak says:

    Sounds like some third rater trying to make a name for herself or has a book soon to published. Or something like that……

  • Netty Meelen says:

    Poor girl does not know how and why to celebrate such a versatile genius like Beethoven!
    Does she really think that the classical music of today can replace the exciting music of Beethoven.
    Come on!!!
    Perhaps it is not in her genes?

  • ContraCowboy says:

    I get her point, but the remedy is wrong. Orchestras play LvB all the time, but the music is especially overdone this year. So let’s take a few years off from the Titan, and play neglected music that is worthwhile, but not necessarily written by living composers. Wouldn’t it be nice and refreshing to hear – for once – live performances of some of the great music by Bax, Rontgen, Alfven, Atterberg, Balakirev, Fibich, Karlowicz, Glazunov, Schmidt, Zemlinsky and so many others? In the US add Elgar, Vaughan Williams, and Bruckner.

  • Patrick says:

    First response….this person is a flake. A moment later….actually an appealing idea. Want to appreciate Beethoven even more? Silence performances of his music for a year. Imagine how good it would be to hear him again.

    If there’s a more sophisticated or academic point she’s trying to make….I’ll pass.

    • Fred Funk says:

      She’s capable of making an academic point? What was her music talent? Voice, piano, strings, brass, or woodwinds? Obviously, it’s the cowbell. More Beethoven, LESS cowbell, PLEASE….

  • Anon says:

    From Moore’s opinion piece:
    “… an opportunity to redistribute institutional and financial capital to a whole new cohort of composers representative of the world we live in now … ”

    You want Max Richter with a Moog and El Trio Los Panchos to recompose Beethoven? DG is already on the case:

  • Bill Ecker says:

    Ms. Moore is an academic. Academics in the arts unless they have a primary career on the concert platform, or as an arts intendant do not deal in economic realities. These Beethoven year concerts around the world will be a financial windfall for the orchestras and arts organizations which perform them. The reality of performing commissioned works, even with a “Beethoven theme” from current composers does not guarantee financial success. Especially from the composers who are not well known. As a matter of fact, it is a financial risk and that is why major orchestras generally bookend new works with works where they know their audiences will buy tickets. They then can gauge the value of the new work via the reviews and audience commentary.

    In the 1950’s, new music proponent Dimitri Mitropoulos whilst Music Director of the New York Philharmonic wrote to Alexander Greiner the artist’s manager at Steinway. Greiner was proffering a pianist named Gunnar Johannson whose specialty was the Busoni Piano Concerto. After going through the cost of performance due to the chorus, Mitropoulos went on to say that when Serkin performed it there, the house was half empty, but when Serkin played Beethoven there, the house was full. The reality is the same holds true today.

    New music proponents will hate what I have to say, but it is the reality and major orchestras and arts venues have to be able to pay their musicians and staff. A major composer anniversary is an opportunity for a retrospective of the type that is typically only given during these anniversaries. Typically, only their best known works are heard during most years. So it does give the public the opportunity to hear under-performed works by the composer.

    It is difficult for new composers to break through. As an appraiser of composer’s estates, one of the things I do when requested is to value future royalties for the estate, or trust. It is done based upon performance/recording sales history as well the current level of royalties and it is a rare classical contemporary composer whose future royalties add up to much. Breaking through is difficult for a current composer, they have to write compelling music the public wants to hear and then they have to either be very clever promoting their works, or have a sponsor who is willing to stick their neck out until their reputation is formed. Some swim, while others sink. Some composers reputations are not made until after their demise and their body of work is “discovered”.

    All said, the idea of replacing a Beethoven year, Brahms year, Bach year, Mozart year is not economically feasible for most orchestras. They are amount to the few great composers over hundreds of years whose music has withstood the test of time and still put “butts in seats”. There is a time and place for current classical composers and many orchestras and arts venues are commissioning new works these days at a rate much higher than in the recent past. I for one look forward to the Beethoven birth anniversary and the variety of his music I will be able to hear, here in New York City and elsewhere.

    • Louise says:

      I am very happy with this Beethoven Year!
      I’have been looking foward for a very long time, because I love Beethovens music above all!

    • John Borstlap says:

      “Breaking through is difficult for a current composer, they have to write compelling music the public wants to hear and then they have to either be very clever promoting their works, or have a sponsor who is willing to stick their neck out until their reputation is formed.”

      But this is a very different situation when compared with, say, the early 20th century, the last period of flowering of classical music in Europe. Since then, the direct contact between composer, performer and audience has eroded, and one of the most important factors was the withdrawel of new music from the performers’ tradition, especially after WW II. It is not normal, it is not healthy, it wastes much talent and money, and it is a cultural disaster which needs to be addressed and solved, in one way or another.

  • KindYoungWhiteMan says:

    I don’t know what it is. I just really really dislike that photo.

    I would dislike having to see this woman. The poor students at Smith College.
    PS: Here’s another photo:

    It all just does not resonate with me, but makes me kind of uneasy and angry.

  • David Boxwell says:

    Beethoven is dead, white, and male. But he was diasbled by a hearing impairment. So that’s in his favor now.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    My impression of today’s audience’s assessment of new music can be summarized by a comment I overheard at the Dallas Symphony…

    “If this next piece isn’t any better, you can find me…AT THE BAR!”

    The days when audiences will obediently purchase tickets suffer through anything put before them are gone.

    The terrible works of the last half of the 20th Century violated the unwritten compact that symphonies had with audiences… that the music would at least be worth listening to.

    • John Borstlap says:

      And who is going to decide which music is worth listening to, in advance? How could be prevented that orchestras would merely perform primitive film music as ‘contemporary music’, or pop confections?

  • BrianB says:

    Hey, it got her the attention she wanted, didn’t it? That’s all this is about. Insignificant.

  • Dennis says:

    An inane attempt at attention-grabbing by Ms. Moore. Unfortunately the Chicago Tribune and Mr. Lebrecht have obliged her.

  • Rob says:

    Beethoven’s music continues to be programmed because Beethoven’s music still continues to speak in a broad way to various people of different cultures. If it does not speak for all people, that is not the fault of Beethoven. These advocates should start their own presenting organizations and patronize those composers who will speak to the audiences they wish to galvanize and attract.

    • John Borstlap says:

      A very simple and entirely true statement.

      But bringing the last advice into practice is apparently VERY difficult. In fact, such advice simply means: program more new traditionalist works, with music that uses the format of the medium and which makes use of the cumulated experience of the central performance culture. This is not ‘conservative’ because the existing repertoire, from the 18C classics onwards, is still a living culture. Where are these new traditionalist composers? Composers who write them, can be bad, mediocre, or good, but where are the indications of quality and who, at the orchestra’s staff, is going to take the time and the efforts to find-out, and with which qualifications? Already for a long time, an entirely new group of new traditionalist composers is emerging in the anglosaxon sphere and with a couple of them in France (of all places!), but they are not organised, there are no festivals for their vision of revival, critics don’t know about them, and performers only find their music when they coincidentally hit upon them through unforseen contacts and information. Interestingly, their music is always an audience success – which creates suspicions that it must be vulgar, conservative, backward, etc. etc. – remnants of the modernist world view.

      So, the current state of culture makes it very difficult to do the simple, very obvious and entirely normal thing, because the classical music world is no longer simple, obvious and normal.

      For instance; there are enough conductors who would be interested to perform more traditionalist new music, but they are no longer the only powerful agent in program decisions: there is now an army of staff they have to deal with, and with pressures which are not musical in nature. Many orchestral staff who do the programming, have no concrete performing experience and their expertise is that of management, which is of crucial importance to keep an orchestra running. And the pressures upon the orchestral circuit threatens to drown purely musical factors, while these are fundamental to audience attendance.

      I think there should be, at some stage, an international big conference to serioulsy discuss these matters, without taboos, and especially without political overtones, addressing first and foremost the mentality which again and again misjudges the nature of modernity and completely misses the point of what a living tradition really means, and which would discuss the normality of free choice people have to persue artistic quality, which is the only acceptable interpretation of progress in the arts: improvement.


    What can you expect from a self-identifying musicologist obsessed with “the politics of identity and representation in new classical music of the post-Cold War period” and “the structures of musical life under late capitalism, musical entrepreneurship, multicultural neoliberalism and the rise of the discourse and labour of ‘curation'”? Beethoven threw high-minded hogwash such as this down the drain when he scratched out his dedication to Napoleon, who had crowned himself Emperor, on the manuscript of the Eroica Symphony. When his wealthy brother Johann signed a letter “From your brother Johann, landowner”, Beethoven ended his reply “From your brother Ludwig, brain owner.” He would have made short shrift of Ms Moore.

  • Kolb Slaw says:

    How can doctoral programs produce people with such poor thinking? While she makes a worthwhile point, she does in a clickbait, angering, stupid way. And, besides, there is a vast amount of 20th century music that still needs to enter the canon, before the trash of the living. And rather than ban Beethoven altogether, play his unplayed works.

  • Alexander Tarak says:

    Nothing like a bit of Ludwig Van!!

  • Enrique Sanchez says:

    Ridiculous, attention-grabbing dribble.

  • Alexander Tarak says:

    It’s nonentities like Dr Moore who should be banned.

  • EnoughIsEnough says:

    Andrea is an incredible performing musician as well as a musicologist. She presents an interesting idea. Get on with your lives and do something productive.

  • Jenni Li says:

    She’s getting her 15 minutes. You’ll never hear of her again.

  • I applaud Dr. Moore’s sentiments and suggestion and count her amongst my friends and fellow scholars. And I say that even as Beethoven is my favorite composer.
    If we don’t champion our living composers, whence shall the next Beethoven emerge?

    • John Borstlap says:

      The ‘next Beethoven’ will emerge, very far in the future, from the darkest corners of music life. One of the reasons for this unfortunate prospect is the type of musicologists like Dr Moore, because they will do anything they can to replace direct experience of musical quality with intellectual debris.

  • Byrwec Ellison says:

    In 2006, the Mozart bicentenary year, Long Beach Opera presented a “No Mozart” program that featured Michael Nyman’s “Letters, Riddles & Writs” based on the letters of Mozart; Louis Andriessen’s “M is for Man, Music, Mozart”; and Arvo Pärt’s “Mozart-Adagio.” The company mounted no productions of Mozart opera that season.

  • Alan says:

    Usual left of centre drivel.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    “New classical”. Priceless oxymoron!!

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I’ve been triggered by this article. What are YOU going to do about it?

  • margaret koscielny says:

    No matter how many times a work of Beethoven’s is performed, it is never the same, twice. That’s the beauty of it all. Hearing Beethoven’s music is essential to being a full human being.

    • John Borstlap says:

      “No matter how many times a work of Beethoven’s is performed, it is never the same, twice.”

      That is a property of any truly good music. The more differentiated the music, the more possibilities to highlight this or that aspect, and one can never highlight all the aspects of a good piece in the same time. That is why we need a performance culture diversified through different conductors and players.

  • Cantantelirico says:

    As a rule, I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t own a pair of tweezers.

  • fflambeau says:

    Doubtless an attention grabber, but there may be some merit in a “reduction” (not a ban) on more Beethoven.

    We’ve heard it all before and most people have multiple recordings of various pieces. It does take the air out of newer performances/composers.

    Perhaps a better balance of the two is required (every time a major orchestra changes conductors, the first thing that is done is for the new person to conduct and record Beethoven’s 5th. That should stop).

  • fflambeau says:

    There’s an especially good radio program specializing in nontraditional music called “Extra Eclectic” hosted by Steve Seel over at American Public Radio.

    It is usually on Wed. evenings. Extremely good intros and music from all over the world.

  • George Porter says:

    It’s a silly-season piece that adds little to the sum of arts appreciation.
    Good for clicks though.

  • André Weiss says:

    It looks like Dr. Moore’s proposal managed to trigger a few readers, I see.

  • J Stuart Smith says:

    The thought that enters this post’s comment string with some frequency concerning which type of music will bring audiences speaks to the popularity of a composer and their works. In other words, classics have become part of the pop lexicon as undisputedly exampled in disco Beethoven 5. Mahler has made it to many movie soundtracks. Our old friends being played to babies as they are laid down all come from before the 20th century. Who here is not painfully aware of this.
    It’s probably best that we don’t conflate pop culture with quality of work. In the dance world, William Forsythe blew up the Frankfurt ballet because of commercial interests. This is the most politically important thing we can do as artists. America and England are certainly grappling with “outside influences” messing up their own securities.

  • Ernesto Schmied says:

    Why not eliminate opportunistic censors?