The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: How will Brexit affect classical music in Great Britain? Many musicians and audiences are preparing for the worst | August 16, 2018

By Jacob Stockinger

London has long been a international hub of culture, with a special reputation as the  home base of many of the great musicians who perform regularly on the Continent.

But how will “Brexit” affect the future of classical music and classical musicians in Great Britain?

Some pretty prominent, active and knowledgeable musicians, including the pianist-conductors Vladimir Ashkenazy and Daniel Barenboim, think it will be for the worst.

One sign is that the European Youth Orchestra (below, in a photo by Peter Adamik, and in the YouTube video at the bottom), which receives a subsidy from the European Union, is moving from London to the city of Ferrara in Italy before Great Britain exits from the European Union.

A particular cause of concern is what kind of confused logistics will happen if visas are required for British groups to tour and perform on the Continent, something that apparently has opera houses especially worried.

A recent story goes into more detail, including charges from Brexit defenders that musicians and representatives of the culture industries in general are being alarmist.

Here is the story, published by The Independent in the United Kingdom and then reproduced in the United States in The New York Times:

What do you think?

Leave your opinion in the COMMENT section.

The Ear wants to hear.


  1. I applaud BREXIT.. It seems to me that Britain never was completely comfortable in it. And the whole idea of an EU that claimed to represent all of the different cultures, languages, history etc of all of Europe is just specious. It is possible to trade with a country without having to sacrifice all national identiy – language, culture, borders – to a large, bland entity. The EU was first and foremost a trade and economic idea. It then became a behemoth, taking over decisions about all aspects of those countries, who had existed perfectly well before the EU arrived to tell them how to do it. It may take time, but the Brits, if they have determined leadership, will work it out.

    Comment by Patricia Yeiser — August 18, 2018 @ 7:26 am

  2. As much as I agree with this, and as much as I agree that Brexit is the product of ignorant marketing and an easily manipulated – read “stupid” – voting public, England is not the hub or center of art or music education and performance in Europe. One of the pleasures of the continent is the distinct pride in every capital in its cultural offerings, attractions and accessibility for performers, students and admirers. Why would anyone expect the EU to subsidize an orchestra in London? I predict this is just the start. To put this on a local scale, take a look at the current takeover of education in Wisconsin, where the erosion of humanities and arts instruction is almost a policy in waiting. The current governor wants vocational instruction – and decision – to begin in 7th or 8th grade. The university system considers humanities an also-ran in the race to retain fields of specific study at its universities. When you reduce the access to learn specific skills – as in a music major, for example – you also deny access to that instruction and exposure to non-music majors. So yes, Brexit is bad, it will affect all levels of culture for the bad and it won’t be realized until it is too late. I had an editor who take a copy of a national story and pass it along to a reporter to see if there was a local angle. He would always write, in capital letters in green ink at the top of the printout: “HERE?”

    Comment by George Hesselberg — August 16, 2018 @ 7:22 am

    • “…England is not the hub or center of art or music education and performance in Europe.”

      Maybe not THE hub bit it is certainly one of them, along with Berlin and Vienna. Lots of great orchestras and musicians there. People like Alfred Brendel, who is Austrian, live there too as do a lot of other top stars and performers. It really is one of the international music centers. More so, than New York City but this WILL change if Brexit occurs.

      Comment by fflambeau — August 17, 2018 @ 12:04 am

  3. I think Brexit is a huge mistake, and a kind of “stalking horse” for the far right: people were lied to and that is now apparent. It might not even go through, and is being challenged in the courts as well as in Parliament.

    This is the politics of division on a massive scale.

    I agree with Daniel Barenboim: it will hurt the British and London in particular.

    Comment by fflambeau — August 16, 2018 @ 12:30 am

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