Specialisation is damaging classical music
'I would go a little further. One of the issues we face today is the ever-increasing division of classical performances into small, ghetto-like compartments. Forty years ago Fischer-Dieskau could be a giant among singers whether he was performing Bach or Wagner, Schubert lieder or Weber operas. For modern performers that doesn't seem possible. The baroque period has largely been abandoned to specialists. Even performances of Mozart, Hadyn and even early Beethoven, which used to be a staple of most symphony orchestras' concert seasons, are becoming rarities.Carl left that comment on my post Is classical music too lean and mean? I thought it worth a post of its own and I would add to those examples of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's virtuosity Messian's opera Saint François d'Assise. I wonder if Carl's Christmas list also includes Britten's St John Passion?
This over-specialisation makes for less rounded and perceptive musicians. What's more it creates a uniformity of performance style which becomes more and more difficult to challenge. What isn't clear to me is why this should have become the norm. As a lifelong listener it isn't a development I ever wanted and I can't believe the move towards clinical uniformity has done anything except drive audiences away - but perhaps I am the only one who would put a Barenboim recording of the the St Matthew Passion right at the top of my Christmas list.'
Header image is title page from 1961 London Beethoven Festival from my own collection. Look at that stellar line-up of non-specialists. Plus the notes were by Ernest Newman and William Mann and the programme cost 3 shillings (15 pence) Those were the days! Carl's comment has been gently edited by me. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk Also on Facebook and Twitter.