Analysis of internet search volumes shows that the new generation of thoroughly modern maestros is failing to wow the public. In the diagram above worldwide Google searches for the terms Gustavo Dudamel, Herbert von Karajan, Valery Gergiev and Georg Solti are plotted over the past eight years - left click to enlarge. This Google Trends analysis shows that current public interest in Dudamel is very similar both in volume and trend to that for Karajan, despite the latter being dead for twenty-four years. Similarly the trends for Gergiev and Solti are remarkably similar, despite sixteen years having passed since Sir Georg's death. If we accept that Google Trends has a degree of authority this data raises yet more questions about the success of classical music's current celebrity based promotional strategies. The PR agency that sold Newsweek the How Maestro Dudamel Is Saving Classical Music story must be rather concerned about Gustavo's bell-shaped curve. While conversely Warner Classics must be rather pleased that evidence of enduring interest in great maestros of the past supports their unfashionable strategy of exploiting EMI's rich back-catalogue. Google Trends may be a fallible tool and if anyone has a better measure of public interest in conductors please share it. Until better sources become available I suggest we accept Google Trends as being more reliable than the hunches of the classical music establishment. As with my recent posts on digital music formats I am raising questions rather than proposing answers. A few months ago I asked Is classical music asking the right questions? Let's now rephrase that - Is classical music asking any questions at all?
* Update: On reflection there are probably more searches omitting the conductor's Christian names as all four surnames are reasonably unique. So I have added the graph above for the search terms Dudamel, Karajan, Gergiev Solti. As can be seen the results reinforce my thesis that thoroughly modern maestros are failing to wow the public, with searches for Dudamel dropping behind those for Karajan in 2013 and Solti running consistently ahead of Gergiev.
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