The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: Do maestros and maestras get too much media — much like big money athletes and glamorous movie stars? Violinist Eugene Fodor dies at 60.

March 5, 2011

By Jacob Stockinger

Patterns are beginning to emerge.

That’s how it seems to me. How does it seem to you?

Conductors with big names and big contracts seem to account for an awful lot of news in the classical world. It strikes me much the way the sports world talks about trades and drafts and who is going where and why, or the way movie magazines track stars.

Even with classical music, it seems, it’s all about BIG names, about STARS.

The Ear thinks that even the classical music world puts too much emphasis on celebrity. We need more media emphasis on ordinary people making and consuming music, on orchestral members, on students and education, on amateurs.

Another on-going patterns is the same old never-ending struggle about new music versus old classics, new venues versus traditional venues, new ways of presenting classical music versus old ways.

And the biggest problem of all confronting classical music remains how to attract more listeners.

But back to the maestros.

First it was Riccardo Muti and his ongoing calamities with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Now it is the operatic career of James Levine, who I’ll post about more in detail tomorrow, on Sunday.

Just take a look at this week’s news roundup:

ITEM: Conductor (not violinist) Itzhak Perlman (below) resigns and leaves the Westchester Philharmonic in a big lurch:

ITEM: Who christens them hot and why? I don’t know but a “hot” young Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko (below) — ever heard of him? — is headed to Oslo:

ITEM: Surprise! Sir Simon Rattle (below) of the Berlin Philharmonic works with young musicians. Does any major conductor or symphony NOT offer educational outreach?:

ITEM: Just in time to mark Women’s History Month, Buffalo’s maestra Joann Falletta (below) gets 5 more years as payback for success:

By contrast, here are two examples of breaking news and trend news that I find much more important and worth coverage:

ITEM: Was his promise ever fulfilled? Tragically, it seems not. American violinist Eugene Fodor (below) dies at 60:

Today Fodor would have turned 61, and NPR offered a great and moving remembrance:

ITEM: Maybe classical music can be made more appealing. How do chamber music and chardonnay mix at Lincoln Center and its famed Chamber Music Society (below) who co-directors (pianist Wu Han and cellist David Finckel) will perform at the Wisconsin Union Theater next season?

Posted in Classical music

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