British composer Peter Maxwell Davies made news recently after he stated that it is the government's fault that classical music is seen as elitist. The comment came after he critiqued music education in Britain.
"There are hundreds of thousands of youngsters who now have never even heard of Mozart or Beethoven," he said. "It is shocking and a disgrace that has been allowed to happen."
As pointed out here, Davies' statement is an echo of Nicola Benedetti, a famous Scottish violinist. Benedetti said that all children should be forced to understand classical music, "in order to understand humanity."
According to the article, Davies is rated as the world's greatest living composer (which, I find very arguable) and recently stepped down as Master of the Queen's Music. He plans to fill his time concentrating on "helping to make classical music more accessible to young people.
My first exposure to Davies' music was his monodrama Eight Songs for a Mad King. While I don't know much about his other music, I did enjoy this piece. However, I do not find it accessible to young people, which seems ironic, since this is the group of people he wishes to appeal to most. It seems that when Davies says he wants to make classical music accessible, he truly means classical music, versus contemporary or modern music. I very much appreciate the awareness that Davies has brought to this issue and agree with the majority of his statements. Though, I would like him to include modern music (including his own music) in his list of what to expose young people to.