Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Is classical music a dying art form?

As the New York Daily so frankly put it, ‘The fat lady is still singing’. However the question should seem to be ‘will she continue singing?’. The death of classical music has been echoed for decades and is still around today. A recent episode of Modern family mocked classical music as though it were just for the pretentious. Looking back this idea that classical music is only for the pretentious is almost a tradition with the same feeling being found in the Marx Brothers, A night at the opera. However classical music has survived the eighty years since the airing of this and is still a prominent art form around the globe.
Album sales in the genre of classical are certainly minimal and have shown a decline of recent years with the most recent statistics putting the classical genre at approximately 3.2% of total album sales. Whilst this may seem measly, when compared to Jazz that barely holds over 1% of total sales it does not look too bad. And yet it is classical music that is at ‘Deaths door’. However although the figures aren’t terrible, for the individual classical artist the sales figures are grim. Hilary Hahn a hugely accomplished and respected violinist gained a number one spot in 2010 on Billboard’s classical chart even though the album had sold under a thousand copies at the time.
In America classical music would appear to be struggling with some its world-renowned orchestras claiming for bankruptcy. The deficit in the wake of the American economic crisis of 2008 caused many orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra to claim for bankruptcy and seek court protection. The orchestra won court protection and got out of its pension obligations and although times were rocky for a while the orchestra seems to have come back and is doing well. Through a drastic reorganisation of there business model the orchestra has managed to increase t public performances from eighty to one hundred this year as well as seeing an increase in digital sales. The orchestra also seems to have increased its online visibility through live broadcasts on their website.  A more diverse approach has been implemented with the orchestra playing pop programmes as well as classical and performing at the Mann centre with Josh Groban.
Although symphonic orchestras appear to be struggling people still see it as a civic pride to have a major league orchestra in their city. Government funding for orchestras in America has increased to ensure that the long standing tradition continues.

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