The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Will the “death” of classical music be good for the future of classical music? Plus, today’s Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen features a fortepiano recital | June 5, 2016

ALERT: Trevor Stephenson, keyboardist and founder of the Madison Bach Musicians, will perform a solo recital on the fortepiano TODAY starting at 12:30 p.m. in Brittingham Gallery III of the Chazen Museum of Art at the UW-Madison.

The program includes works — sonatas and mazurkas, a fantasy and an impromptu — by Domenico Scarlatti, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Frederic Chopin, Joseph Haydn and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.

Admission is FREE and the recital will be streamed live at the following website:

By Jacob Stockinger

This past week, two readers posted comments about the so-called Death of Classical Music.

One reader clearly lamented it and didn’t believe in it.

The other reader didn’t desire it, but seemed to accept it as a fact and remarked that the demise was classical music’s own fault due to conservative programming and other shortcomings in falling behind the times.

Along comes pianist Charlie Albright (below), a former prodigy from Seattle who was trained at the famed Juilliard School. (You can learn more about him in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

charlie albright

Albright’s point of view is that the “death” of classical music might even be beneficial to classical music in the long run – at least if you are talking the “death” of classical music such as it is right now and has been in recent times.

Charlie Albright playing piano

Albright’s essay appeared on the CNN website and makes for interesting reading and food for thought.

At least The Ear thinks so.

Read it and see what you think.

Then share your thoughts and ideas about the death of classical music and Charlie Albright’s essay with The Ear and other readers.

Here is a link:


  1. Perhaps I just havn’t been paying attention, and perhaps I just live in the wrong (RIGHT!) place, but I haven’t noticed classical music is dying. Yes, more of the people attending the symphony are older, but it might just be that younger folk can’t afford the not inexpensive tickets.

    BUT, I see the finalists at the Neale Silva Young Artists competition, I listen to NPR’s “From the Top” and all the unbelieveably talented and accomplished y o u n g , and I mean really young, people. With so many things to vie for our attention, especially the digital world in all its forms, there may be fewer young people engaging with classical music, though I am not even sure that is happening.

    None of Albright’s innovations would offend me,nor does their absence. But seeing and hearing all the young musicians I do, I think classical music will make a pretty lively corpse.

    Daryl Sherman

    Comment by Daryl K.. Sherman — June 6, 2016 @ 3:42 pm

  2. I’ve read Charlie Albright’s article on classical music dying. I agree with him that it is dying but I think he’s mostly wrong in many respects. For instance, he wrote this about the 20th century:

    “Speaking to audiences, spontaneous applause (including in the middle of pieces), and on-the-spot improvisation were commonplace, with performers wooing audiences with their technical and interpretational prowess. That was real classical music.”

    Sorry, I’m almost 70 and lived through more than half of the last century and I do not recall ANY of the above occurring. Spontaneous applause was always regarded as “bush”. Speaking to audiences: not common at all.

    Nor do I think his solutions (such as playing in smaller venues and talking to the audiences) help much. In fact, to me, he avoids talking about the biggest problem facing classical music and its outreach problems to young people. Young people are really into (and perhaps have been “colonized” ) by their smart phones and the Internet. YouTube is a much greater force than small venues. He doesn’t talk about this real problem at all. How does classical music cross this technical gap to reach out to the young? That to me is the biggest problem facing not only classical music but many other institutions as well: for instance, traditional education.

    Comment by fflambeau — June 5, 2016 @ 2:24 am

    • The quotation in your second paragraph is not about the 20th century. If you continue reading, you will note the next sentence begins, “but all of that changed in the 20th century…”. It appears that you and Albright do not disagree as much as you’d like to think you do.

      Comment by Steve Rankin — June 5, 2016 @ 8:16 am

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