News of the Classical World December 19-23

A collection of classical news stories for the week of December 19, 2011

December 19, 2011

Beethoven In America

A review of Michael Broyles Beethoven In America that looks at the composer’s place in American pop culture.

“But even Beethoven probably would have been surprised at the place his name and image have found at the heart of American culture, including popular culture. Yes, it’s true that millions of Americans get through their days, weeks and months without hearing a note of Beethoven or giving him a thought. But as Michael Broyles points out in his fascinating but uneven “Beethoven in America,” just about everyone knows Beethoven’s name, if not necessarily his music, and for millions — particularly those with little interest in the symphonic world — he is synonymous with the classics.”
(The New York Times)

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December 20, 2011

The joy of Christmas carols

Christmas is the one season when even the tone deaf can unapologetically burst into song.

“Apart from Auld Lang Syne and the National Anthem, there isn’t much music for collective singing that the average Brit without a personal connection to Gareth Malone feels comfortable with. But Christmas carols are another matter. They give you licence to be self-exposing, sentimental, human (even corporate bankers shed a tear during Silent Night). And more significantly, they capture the effect that Christmas has on us all, irrespective of religious belief. The effect of concentrated time, collapsing.”
(The Telegraph)

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December 21, 2011

Beethoven music shaped by gradual deafness, say experts

Beethoven’s loss of hearing over time may have shaped his music.

“The report’s author Edoardo Saccenti said: ‘These results suggest that, as deafness progressed, Beethoven tended to use middle and low frequency notes, which he could hear better when music was performed, seemingly seeking for an auditory feedback loop.
‘When he came to rely completely on his inner ear he was no longer compelled to produce music he could actually hear when performed and slowly returned to his inner musical world and earlier composing experiences.'”
(BBC News)

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December 22, 2011

Culture Isn’t Contagious Online

A study that followed the Facebook pages of 1000 college students over four years found that most Facebook friendships are based on “mere propinquity” and cultural interests are of little importance while networking. One outlying group was those who enjoy classical music.

“When it came to culture, researchers used an algorithm to identify taste “clusters” within the categories of music, movies, and books. They learned that fans of “lite/classic rock”* and “classical/jazz” were significantly more likely than chance would predict to form and maintain friendships, as were devotees of films featuring “dark satire” or “raunchy comedy / gore.” But this was the case for no other music or film genre — and for no books.”
(The Wall Street Journal)

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December 23, 2011

The Colorado Symphony Orchestra unveils new business model

The Cash strapped Colorado Symphony Orchestra is approaching its finances in a new way. The new plan aims to tailor the CSO’s performances around the interests of consumers.

“[The plan] promises major overhauls in the CSO’s relationship with Colorado, rejecting a culture where the “notion of relevance was defined by the institution, not by the community it served.” Rather, it draws a picture of an orchestra that connects with audiences in classrooms, at hospitals, in corporate lobbies and in performance venues scattered across the region.
Kern envisions some shorter concerts with audience-friendly programs, along with a an early Thursday-evening series to capture the after-work crowd. The CSO would work with businesses to develop concerts they could use to entertain clients or employees, offer more programs to schools in an age where arts education has dwindled, and create musical-therapy programs.”
(Denver Post)

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