A carelessly written, less than insightful, but largely factually accurate old-news-regurgitating article in Slate by one Mark Vanhoenacker headlined "Requiem: Classical music in America is dead" complete with a lurid graphic by one Mark Stamaty has occasioned an outbreak of mass hysteria within the classical music community that has to be witnessed to be believed. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this outbreak is that every one of the hysterical responders to this article, including three professional classical music commentators who ought to have known better (Andy Doe, William Robin, and Anne Midgette), have responded, oblivious, not to the article itself which article, apart from an ill-chosen metaphor in a single sentence remarking on current trends in contemporary mainstream American culture as regards classical music ("Looking at the trend lines, it’s hard to hear anything other than a Requiem."), makes no claim or even so much as suggests that classical music is dead, but to the article's purposely sensationalist headline; a headline that almost certainly was not provided by the author of the article who typically has little control over such things but by the article's editor, a time-honored practice in the journalism biz. So, what did the article actually have to say about classical music. Here are the article's lede (opening) grafs:
When it comes to classical music and American culture, the fat lady hasn’t just sung. Brünnhilde has packed her bags and moved to Boca Raton. Classical music has been circling the drain for years, of course. There’s little doubt as to the causes: the fingernail grip of old music in a culture that venerates the new; new classical music that, in the words of Kingsley Amis, has about as much chance of public acceptance as pedophilia; formats like opera that are extraordinarily expensive to stage; and an audience that remains overwhelmingly old and white in an America that’s increasingly neither. Don’t forget the attacks on arts education, the Internet-driven democratization of cultural opinion, and the classical trappings—fancy clothes, incomprehensible program notes, an omerta-caliber code of audience silence — that never sit quite right in the homeland of popular culture.Clearly, this is not claiming that classical music is dead in contemporary mainstream American culture but a suggestion that it finds itself in serious trouble; viz., as the rest of the article makes clear, relegated to the culture's deepest hinterlands, its outermost margins. (Although the article negligently does not make note of it, this silent, insidious process had its beginnings in the mid-1960s and became more pressing with each passing year since and has today reached a degree that's perhaps the most extreme it's been since America became a fully developed nation sometime in the mid- to late-19th century.) And following those lede grafs, that is what the balance of this article is all about; the thesis it attempts to support and prove using statistical evidence of the inarguable migration. And that's it. No requiem, no funeral. The article's author even hopes classical music in American culture is due a comeback (see the article's closing graf). The above commentary published here in an attempt to inject a modest measure of clear-eyed sanity into the presiding hysteria.