Tuesday, August 23, 2011:On Music & Money

'We don't have money' is the easy answer. The truth is a little more complicated.

Guest Editorial

On Music and Money

In a previous editorial (August 3) Mr Havran wrote about how access to education and institutions has helped the Czech nation earn its title as “a nation of musicians.” Today he looks at how access has contributed to the sidelining of classical music.

The financial markets are on an ever-steepening roller-coaster ride. This is a convenient scapegoat to blame for the sidelining of classical music.

With all the music and tourist agencies’ promotional claims, coupled with the well-publicized lack of state support for “serious” culture, many people assume that concerts in the music-rich Czech Republic necessarily must boast ticket prices similar to those in other cultural centres such as London and New York. So they don’t even consider investigating actual ticket prices, most of which are laughably inexpensive, let alone going to a concert.

Also contributing to the sidelining of classical music is the modern misconception of what classical music is all about. For some of the rich and powerful, concerts have become no more than social occasions where they can show off their extravagant clothes and flashy hairdos, and demonstrate to their subjects how cultured and civilised they are. The rest of us take from this the message that we are not acceptable at a concert, which is, of course, untrue.

Further, with the ever-diminishing lack of government financial support for serious culture, concerts featuring top international classical musicians are becoming a luxury which many traditional and new venues (and not only in this country) can not afford.

So what about public access via television, for example? You would have thought that the public service TV broadcaster in this country might have been interested in providing even more prime time viewing possibilities to facilitate broader access to classical music. Some efforts are made, but, unfortunately, classical musicians are drowned out by the self-professed pop “legends,” who are often no more than imitators of Anglo-American pop culture, with the odd ruminant regurgitator of Western hits among them as well.

It is therefore not surprising that classical music is getting the unfair label of being something only for intellectual and financial snobs. Simply promoting it can never reverse this trend.

For the trend to be reversed, classical music, and just as importantly, a classical music education in many forms (for audiences of all ages), must be made readily accessible, and acceptable, to the general public.   — oo

– František Havran

Photo Credits: Big Foto

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