I believe in Bach, the creator of heaven and earth, and in Mozart, his only begotten son, and in Beethoven the mediator and comforter; and inasmuch as their gods have manifested also in Vivaldi and Ravel and Stravinsky and many another, I believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of error and Mind everlasting.
"Credo," Robert Anton Wilson, Right Where You Are Sitting Now
One of the reasons I got interested in writing about Robert Anton Wilson was that he was interested in many of the same things I am, among them classical music. I've been spending part of the weekend listening to the Pacifica Quartet's recordings of Shostakovich's string quartets.
There's been a debate over the last few years over what's going to happen to classical music in this country, and it flared up again recently. Salon Magazine ran the latest "it's dead" article, by somebody named Mark Vanhoenacker. Music writer William Robin wrote a reply, "The Fat Lady Is Still Singing," for the New Yorker.
I think Robin mostly gets the best of it -- people have been writing about the "death" of classical music for a long time -- and it's easy to find ways to criticize Vanhoenacker. For example, the Salon piece points out the undeniable fact that classical music is getting harder to find on the radio these days, without mentioning that most people have access to Internet radio everywhere via smartphones and almost everyone has a computer. I've discovered I can listen to Q2, the modern classical music station, by plugging my phone into my car's stereo.
As the Salon piece points out, older people form the bulk of the audience at classical music concerts. Robins gets off a good line about that: "contempt toward the elderly is a common theme in death-of-classical-music articles." But will orchestras be able to find listeners to fill those seats when the current audience ages out?