Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Classical Music outside of the U.S.

It seems to me that when we've been talking about the future of classical music, we've been discussing it from a U.S. point of view. Maybe this isn't such an important point, but is the situation any different in Europe, Canada, Australia, China, or Japan (just to name a few places)? For example, is it true that symphonies and operas in the U.S. are funded largely by big donations from individuals, whereas in Europe they are mainly government-sponsored? This could make a difference in how the public views it and responds to it.

By the way, here's an interesting article that I just found from the New York Times:


It initially surprised me to see the title: "Classical Music Looks Toward China with Hope." It mentions how, while people in Europe and the U.S. are concerned with the increasing trend of disinterest in classical music by the mainstream culture and younger generations, China has the opposite trend--their conservatories are growing, instrument production is growing, young people flock to see concerts whenever possible even outside of major cities, children are taking mandatory arts classes in school that are there to ensure that children develop into "respectable, well-rounded adults", nearly every child learns some kind of instrument at a young age, etc. etc. It also says that Western classical music became less popular during the Cultural Revolution, but regained popularity during the 1970s, and that especially when Mao Tse-Tung was it power, musical talent was one of the few ways that one could escape from labor in the countryside. I thought this was interesting to get a little information on the context in which classical music rose or fell in the favor of a particular culture. Maybe you might think the article makes some interesting points, maybe you won't, but I liked the change of perspective. I find it interesting to see how culture changes over time, what directions it takes, as well as what factors in politics and history and sociology influence them.

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