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Editorial Musings with Basil Ramsey

The Public Ear

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.

Copyright © 25 December 2006 Basil Ramsey, Yorkshire UK


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