2010 Year End -- Classical music

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It’s time again for that favorite year-end topic: the imminent demise of classical music as we know it and love it. You are deluded if you think otherwise.

So what to do with the hundreds of millions of kids in China, Japan and Korea who are practicing the piano or violin as you are reading this? And, someone, quick, tell Hugo Chavez to rip the instruments from the little hands of all those Venezuelan children, so they can take up guns and drugs instead and so Americans and Swedes and the Scottish will stop copying El Sistema.

We’ll have to do something about classical CD sales too: They’re slightly up (unlike almost every other genre). Plus, the sooner we empty the full houses of Walt Disney Concert Hall the better.

These annual predictions of doom and gloom are much older than a lot of the music the L.A. Phil plays. Sure, concert life is changing, but that is the definition of a living art form. Yes, orchestras in America die while new organizations are born in places like China and Vietnam; the West is not the world. Of course young audiences are inattentive, poorly educated and half deaf, just like they’ve always been.


The fact is more people listened to classical music this year, in one form or another, than ever before. I say that every year, and every year it is true.

This year’s top 10 is already history, but these events left something for keeps. So will next year’s, if we haven’t blown ourselves up by then. For an explanation of the photo, see this year’s classical top 10 ... and one dud.

-- Mark Swed


Notes on a Year: Mark Swed on classical music