Fortunes of War
Recently reading a feature on the uneasy state of the classical record
market, the background presence of the ruling moguls struck me as almost
bizarre. The paraphernalia of the classical music world's cream of orchestras,
conductors, singers and others is horrendously expensive, yet we are looking
at an outcome of only just 2.3% of the CD market in America, and probably
the same inbalance elsewhere. The temptation to ask why the other 97% still
remains immune to good music is somewhat fatuous yet understandable. Are
the efforts to assist youngsters - who usually enjoy music when provided
for them - not making headway, even to the extent of 0.7% of the population?
The answer is quite clear, whatever reasons are advanced. It is the wording
of the question that remains elusive. Perhaps the hype has to be reassembled,
for if James Horner's score for the Titanic film can sell over 9
million copies as a product that at least resembles serious music, why is
the real thing netting a total of under 3% of the total music market?
One could get quite dizzy under the pain of having to provide a plausible
answer. Let us, instead, confine our thoughts to the fortunes of war. Despite
everything, the avalanche of good music on CD has long spilled over into
unfamiliar territory - I am tempted to rephrase that to 'virgin jungle',
but only to accommodate some of the extremes of dull music from all periods
that is still dusted off and placed in a gleaming package.
I'm not ungrateful for the fruits of the CD revolution, as my friends
notice when struggling to find a seat in my study. Nonetheless, we always
find those people, often musically inclined, who are startled at the result
of a decade or so of incessant growth. The discomforting question comes
as they ask where we find the time to listen to all
.. There's no satisfactory
answer, only the inevitable mutterings about needing a good library of recorded
As my lovely Irish neighbour remarks at times like this, 'There's nowt
so queer as folk' - to which I have never found a satisfactory reply.
Basil Ramsey, March 4th 1999