A book I read a bit of last month by Joseph Horowitz, Classical Music in America, referred to classical music as foreign to American culture. I thought about it and realized at least 90% of what is performed in concert programs throughout the country consists almost exclusively of works composed by Western-European composers.
It is not hard to recognize that the economic and social climate in America is changing; protests in major cities, our government at a political standstill, and hysteria about the alignment of the planets in 2012. With all that is happening outside of music, it’s not surprising that the world of music is going through it’s own changes.
Orchestras in all parts of the country are struggling to keep their budgets out of the red as they fight fewer donations, rising costs, and lower concert attendance.
There are many possible reasons for this trend. Ever since the first European exiles arrived on the continent, there has been a subconscious resentment for all things European. The biggest example of resentment are the events prior to, including, and following the American Revolutionary War. Even though the colonists were previously British subjects, many of them denounced the crown and from that rebellion rose the Union that became the United States of America.
Similar resentment exists today. When discussing the controversial subject of universal healthcare, a policy that many European nations have adopted, arguments against it claim it is socialist and therefore bad. When Americans think socialist, they think back to the Soviet Union and the Cold War which made many Americans fearful.
That is a whole different subject. With all the resentment that has been aimed at the European continent, why would it be a rational expectation that European music would thrive in an environment where it was not naturally contrived?
With all the problems classical symphonies face nowadays in the midst of economic crisis, I feel they have done extraordinarily well considering the factors against them. Works of Mozart and Beethoven have stood more than the test of time in America and even if they faded out this coming weekend, their success is a testament to the grand master composers and their music.