Thursday, July 24, 2014
Classical music should be an agenda-free zone
In the past when classical record sales were sluggish, industry luminaries such as Walter Legge and John Culshaw (seen above with Sir Georg Solti) sorted things out by making legendary recordings such as the Giulini Verdi Requiem and the Solti Ring. Nowadays, when sales are slack, a luminary such as Max Hole goes on Classic FM to advocate tearing down the Royal Festival Hall, and then feeds the story to a conveniently on side journalist in the futile hope that the alchemy of social media will transmute contentious sound bites into sales revenues. Quite predictably, the latest proposals by the ceo of the world's largest grouping of classical labels have been greeted with derision by everyone except the aforementioned journalist. Which is, in fact, rather sad, because some of the points are valid. But the problem is that the validity of Max Hole's proposals is totally obscured by a scarcely hidden agenda of keeping Universal Music's monopolistic position unchanged, while passing himself off as an agent of change. Walter Legge and John Culshaw certainly had huge egos as well as huge talents. But the difference between them and Max Hole is that they had no agenda other than a burning passion for great music. I loathe the trendy crapola of "not fit for service" that Norman Lebrecht uses to describe the Royal Festival Hall. But, again, there is truth behind the crapola. In fact I would go further and say that today's entire classical music industry, which is riddled with scarcely hidden agendas, is not fit for service. The conventions of concert etiquette that Max Hole so delights in attacking are way down on the priority list for change. Right at the top are making classical music an agenda-free zone and putting the integrity and passion back into the industry.
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