Does the popularity of classical music remain steady, or is it still rising?
We fanatics expect the latter, which may well be fact given the ever-increasing
spread of the download, the DVD and the CD. It matters only that there is growth and
sophistication for the tools of the revolution.
Is the proportion of listening between classical and recent (taking the latter
from about 1950) equal, or more likely in favour of the classical repertory?
One can assuredly choose the classical (or standard) repertory as the favourite.
But there is an ever-greater interest from the concert-going-recording-loving public
in the great modern classics, whether Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra or, say,
Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. The following generation of modern classics may
involve a living composer. But that is pure speculation.
What is the overall effect on the 'public ear'? Can we prophesy an increasing
interest in modern music? I feel confident that as the 'public ear' continues to
assimilate and soften the sounds of modernity in general, it will accept the best
music of the last century. And much of that has become, or is becoming, clearly
evident, whether Bartók or Birtwistle.
Perhaps the true significance is that of growth and development, the tools
of Man's everlasting quest for mastery in a world that forever challenges us to
fend for ourselves. The musical achievements of the last century will be drawn
from that, just as all previous accomplishments have been drawn from challenge.