A Closed Society?
Summer has come and almost gone. With great interest we followed the classical summer-festival scene in different countries. We visited performances, read, and re-read reviews, synopses, interviews with artists and directors. And we listened to reports and discussions with performers and audiences – attentive and with great curiosity.
They still exist in droves, those people who are willing to spend money on an evening of classical music.
But where are the critical voices when it comes to the economics of these festivals? And why are there no more of them? Is there really no way to share a great symphony and world-class cast with the larger public than just through terribly compressed sound quality via a television or computer screen?
It is quite nice when famous orchestras and soloists (very) rarely give free concerts in a park, or screens are set up outdoors for public viewing. However, as soon as it rains and the toilet containers are filthy, the average-income individual must realize that he / she is obviously not the most important target group.
In the meantime, wealthy sponsors and senior management staff pat themselves on the back and in conversations flaunt their acquired, cultivated modesty.
Do people want to be classical musicians for this?
To become Christmastree-ornaments for the rich of the world? To (have to) specialize and play the game to such an extent, that the door to categorical originality and old-fashioned grandeur and quality increasingly closes? Does the world really need such artists?
We need to continue to think and re-think the legitimacy of the classical music form and how it can and should continue to exist and grow. Why it has become so absurdly elitist, so elitist that even among artists there are more and more, who view the world outside their small circle of close friends / students / admirers with arrogance and judgement.
Of course, cultural institutions are not subsidized well enough. Especially those of medium size are ignored forever once they get past the initial stages. Then again, why should taxpayers pay more if they can not identify with programs and can not afford them anyway?
There is also terrible snobbism on the part of the teaching institutions. Viennese tradition? Russian school? We are artists, more cultured than the rest, let’s stay amongst ourselves? Where is the true support for the unforced immediacy of a great performance or an original composition outside the academic standards?
Where is the private money in some European countries (which sponsors clearly spend mainly on their own interests)? And where is real initiative for new policies?
Great art has come to stand for luxury. But it once stood for the conscious use of the free mind. This is what the world might need again. It will take much more bravery. Yes, and also money.