I had no idea. Nobody warned me about the terrible news. I am still under shock … Classical music is death.
I can’t believe it.
Did you know it?
Some days ago I was losing my normally unproductive time surfing the web when, suddenly, I stumbled upon an article written by Mr. Mark Vanhoenacker (January 2014) in the digital mag “Slate“. According to that article, “Classical music in America is dead”.
The dreadful news made my hands shake and my coffee fell to the floor. I screamed loud as hell and punched the table. Two or three seagulls who were pretending me to share my breakfast with them flew away with a panic attack …
– Calm down, Covetotop. The article says that classical music is dead in America. It doesn’t say anything about Europe. I am very sorry for America, but it isn’t a global disaster yet -I told myself trying to calm down.
Anxious and severely depressed, I surfed the web again, looking for some info about the situation of classical music in Europe, and I found this: “Will nobody mourn the death of classical music?”
It was an article from the British newspaper “The Independent”, written by Mr. Philip Hensher.
I screamed loud as hell again and hit the table furiously with my head. I broke the table.
No doubt. The disaster is global.
Classical Music is dead.
– I have to check this news by myself – I told myself trying to calm down.
So, I did what logic dictates to do in this sort of situations: I unfolded my folding bicycle and started to ride it through Europe.
Here below is the visual and philosophical account of Covetotop’s deep, emotional, and insightful musical journey.
My first stop (pics above and below) was the Santa Cecilia in Trastevere church, in Rome.
Saint Cecilia is the patroness of musicians. The dead girl in the first pic of this post is the famous sculpture of Saint Cecilia, by Stefano Maderno. The sculpture is exhibited in the same Santa Cecilia church.
The contemplation of such a masterpiece of the baroque sculpture touched my heart and immersed me in the darkest melancholy. Saint Cecilia is Classical Music. Classical Music is dead.
I went on.
Everywhere in Italy I found reminiscences of its wonderful musical past …
In Vatican City, just in front of the Saint Peter’s Basilica, I meditated about the important role of music in church. From Gregorian chant to polyphony …
“116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services. But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical act …” (The Second Vatican Council; Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy)
Victoria, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Bruckner …. All the great masters composed sacred music for the Catholic Church. Even Bach, who was not a Catholic (he was a Lutheran), wrote such an awesome Catholic masterpiece as his Mass in B minor.
Why does the church use from time to time pop and rock tunes as worship music these days? – I wondered very worried.
Oh my! Classical music seems really dead …
Btw, the pic above is a Cd containing some Bach music, played by Cristoph Poppen -baroque violin- and The Hilliard Ensemble -choir-
The Cd’s title is “Morimur”, which means “we die”; I have chosen it for this post because that title reflects perfectly the current situation of classical music sales in most countries, including mine. In any case, this wonderful compact disc, edited with extraordinary good taste by ECM, will never die in my personal collection. For more info about extraordinary cds and for more good taste, visit Tyran Grillo’s “Between sound and space”
From Italy I rode to Germany. Thanks God I took my old Gore-Tex jacket and hat. It was very cold.
What a lovely, funny and entertaining 4 1/2 hours-long opera wrote and composed the great Richard Wagner about Hans Sachs and his amazing Meistersinger von Nürnberg!
Covetotop is a fan of Richard Wagner, of course.
Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig in 1813. Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann and Gustav Mahler worked in Leipzig. Johann Sebastian Bach worked in Leipzig from 1723 to 1750, conducting the St. Thomas Church Choir, at the St. Thomas Church, the St. Nicholas Church and the Paulinerkirche.
Covetotop is a fan of Mendelssohn, Schumann, Mahler and, above them all, Bach. Consequently, Covetotop went to Leipzig.
Here below: Covetotop and his gigantic friend JS Bach in Leipzig, just in front of the St. Thomas Church …
When the American physician, poet, etymologist, essayist, educator, policy advisor, and researcher Lewis Thomas was asked what message he would choose to send from Earth into outer space in the Voyager spacecraft, he answered: “I would send the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach.” After a pause, he added: “But that would be boasting.”
I rode my folding bicycle from Leipzig to Berlin.
On Christmas Day 1989, in Berlin, the great American conductor, pianist and composer Leonard Bernstein conducted Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It was the celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was one of the most impressive celebrations of freedom that the World has ever witnessed.
“Something happened between the fall of the Berlin Wall and its 20th anniversary. The first occasion was marked by Bernstein conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The second was marked by a band called Tokio Hotel. The idea that the occasion deserved a moment of dignity, or that a great classic occupied that moment of dignity more convincingly than a passing rock band, had no force any longer.” (Philip Hensher, in The Independent)
If classical music is dying, soon we’ll see empty concert halls …
… and empty orchestra pits in opera theaters …
But not yet, at least in Berlin …
Berlin has an outstanding opera theater too …
The Spanish great opera singer Teresa Berganza was recently interviewed in the French newspaper Le Figaro. In it she talked about the modern stage directors: “I do not love what they do today, these stagings that respect neither the time nor the music. For me, opera is a religion, and it must be respected as such. Would we say to young people, ‘The painter Tintoretto is too outdated, let’s add some red or bright yellow to them to keep up with the latest trends?’ The ones who do that should end up in prison. We should do the same with some stage directors.”
I totally agree with her. I don’t want to see Fasolt and Fafner disguised as Laurel and Hardy.
Perhaps I am a little bit old-fashioned, but I prefer traditional staging in opera …
From Germany I rode to Austria, the land of …
Oh my! The land of …
I can barely type His name …
Is His music death too?
Is humanity becoming so deaf?
I rode my folding bicycle to the land of … Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
I cannot believe it. Mozart is not any longer with us.
Brahms’ music is supposedly death too …
My friend Anton Bruckner! (Dear reader, did you read my post “Homage to Anton Bruckner“?)
The Vienna Boys’ Choir … These kids really know how to sing authentic sacred music.
I guess this sad post is almost done.
I just need to add an apotheosis.
Apotheosis is the glorification of a subject to divine level.
In other words, apotheosis means … Beethoven.
I put a flower in Beethoven’s tomb. “Now I can go home” –I thought.
I went home.
Now, in front of my beloved Mediterranean Sea, drinking a hot coffee at a beach bar, I am typing this long post while I meditate about the death of classical music.
The more I think about it, the angrier I get.
“One day the last portrait of Rembrandt and the last bar of Mozart will have ceased to be -though possibly a colored canvas and a sheet of notes will remain- because the last eye and the last ear accessible to their message will have gone.”
My hands are shaking of rage. My coffee falls to the floor.
I scream loud as hell.
I hit the table furiously with my head.
I break the table.
Here comes the waiter.
He throws me out.