I stumbled across an interview that was published within the past few days with Ara Guzelimian, the Dean of Juilliard. While I concur with and applaud most of his responses, I was sent into a state of confounded shock at one of the interviewer’s questions:
“…with the decline of newspapers and the rise of blogs, is music henceforth to be judged as simply a matter of opinion, where all positions are equally valid?”
HENCEFORTH?! As if up until this point, music was NOT judged as a matter of opinion? If it was not a matter of people’s taste and the influence of their opinions, how did music evolve into what it is now, with its thousands of different genres and styles and techniques? This interview question evokes a looming Anna Wintour-like music critic who declares at the beginning of each season what is or isn’t en vogue with a factual stamp of a bejeweled scepter. Yes, they may indeed have offered some sort of guidance, but never were they cultural autocrats by any means. And as far as “validity” is concerned, there is no right or wrong to musical opinion. It is just whatever happens to tickle your pickle.
The line between “professional journalist” and “amateur blogger” is being blurred more and more each day, but this is nothing new. By the time Dvorak’s famous ‘New World’ Symphony premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1893 to widespread, popular success, the National Amateur Press Association (hello primitive social media) had already been producing articles from its Philadelphia foundation for 17 years, covering everything from music to politics, and everything in between. I admire so-called “amateurs” for their enthusiasm. They have an openness and thirst for exploring a topic on which they do not claim to be experts, and they wish to share it. That sort of spirit is what moves and pushes memes, sorts through material that truly stands out, and shapes culture.
Also, why must 99% of articles and interviews about classical music these days be about its current state, it’s “doomed” future, and how it is supposed to function and/or in these changing times (sidebar: when have times ever not been changing?? Jesus.)?? They all feature the same nondescript, boring questions and comments on rotation. The comic duo Igudesman and Joo discuss this in their wonderful little interview with Nick Canellakis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IH_Ral_WbJ0
That all being said, I quite enjoyed Guzelimian’s comments on the access and wealth of material archives that blogging and YouTube and the Internet, in general, allows. There is so much to sift through, but it is there and available.
In other news: My wonderful spam commenters keep writing to me, “Great blog, very informative, keep writing, and please send $10,000 to my bank account in Nigeria,” so I suppose I will take just a little slice of their advice. Buckling down on the blogging thing again, like a real amateur. :)