I Care If You Listen

September 2009

The general public is largely unaware of and uninterested in [contemporary classical] music. The majority of performers shun it and resent it. Consequently, the music is little performed, and then primarily at poorly attended concerts before an audience consisting in the main of fellow professionals. At best, the music would appear to be for, of, and by specialists.

– Milton Babbitt, 1958

Classical music is in bad shape. Modern, avant-garde, postmodern, neoromantic, and the myriad other terms that attempt to describe or categorize today’s concert music landscape carry little to no meaning, because few people who listen to music, of any sort, have any idea that concert music still exists outside of the orchestral museum culture displaying the works of great, dead masters. Even fewer could begin to describe new Western art music.[1] Those who can tend to have extensive training, and are generally practitioners and teachers of this music themselves. Concert attendance within this realm is disgustingly low and continuing to diminish, but not without reason. I recently attended the Second Annual Festival of American Music in London, put on by the chamber ensemble Lontano, and was sadly unsurprised that a concert full of world premiere performances managed to draw an audience of only thirty. The scene was even worse at an Ionian Singers concert in Brighton this past June, when, after sinking a substantial amount of money into advertising and promotion, a whole crowd of seventeen people showed up.

The evidence for this decline is far from merely anecdotal, as the past few years have seen a string of new books with titles such as Classical Music, Why Bother? and Why Classical Music Still Matters making desperate pleas to readers to pay more attention to this fading art. While these efforts often make for an enjoyable read, and may sometimes even turn a few readers on to contemporary classical music, the effect they have on reversing the decline of this music is negligible, as they usually focus on illuminating the ‘value’ of this music, as opposed to positing a concrete course of action for composers, performers, and proponents of new music to follow. It is as if these authors have shown the value of a little known artifact in a forgotten wing of a museum and dodged the larger issue: the fact that the wing is forgotten.

How did this music become relegated to such a marginal, insubstantial position in society in the first place? How can it be saved, or resurrected from the state of living death it inhabits? To the author, a composer himself raised in the punk scene in the suburban shadow of Los Angeles, the answers to these questions seem clear: contemporary classical music has turned in on itself to the point of effectively isolating the listening public. To survive, this music absolutely must find a way of engaging itself with a broader audience.[2] This essay will examine the causes for the divide between the proponents of contemporary music (composers, specialist performers, concert organizers, critics, teachers, musicologists) and the otherwise educated public hardly aware of its existence, and, looking to the successes (both commercial and artistic) of popular music genres, design a course of action to heal this divide, reengage listeners, and ultimately create a healthier environment for the creation of new Western art music.

As Adorno looked to the extremes to find truth in its most useful form for argument, the beginning of this examination of the divide between modern classical music and, essentially, everything else, will begin with its starkest opposition. Julian Lloyd Webber, the cellist brother of the composer of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, voiced the symptoms of the situation and his resent for modernist contemporary classical music in a speech to the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, in 1998. ‘Declining audiences, government cuts, disastrous CD sales, sponsors pulling out of the arts, fewer children learning instruments, and a total lack of interest from the general media…This is the reality of classical music in the West today,’ his speech began, before claiming that the cause of this dismal reality was ‘forty years of madness- from 1945 to the early eighties- [in which] classical music turned its back on its audience.’[3] Webber then makes a series of mostly unfounded, illogical jabs at the ‘new führers of the classical music establishment, for whom tonality and harmony had become dirty words.’[4] Paul Griffiths is quick to point out that by ‘classical music,’ Webber is referring only to composers.[5] Beyond that, even the most casual observer can see the importance placed on harmony by the composers Webber attacks. Gyorgy Ligeti, Luigi Nono, Wolfgang Rihm, and numerous other composers exemplary of the style (referring to contemporary classical music as a style within the whole of music) could hardly have written their masterworks without careful consideration of the harmonic, and melodic, materials they had to work with; this makes it appear as though Webber simply dislikes contemporary takes on harmony and melody. He makes absolutely no convincing theoretical argument (perhaps he doesn’t like minor ninths) for his negative opinion of the modern music on which he places the blame for the marginalization of classical music in our culture. As such- that no theoretical argument is made- the social circumstances that prompted his tirade must be examined.

Famed pianist and theorist Charles Rosen published a response to Webber’s speech in which he appeared excited about modernism’s continuing ability to disturb the musical establishment: ‘I should have thought that the modernist style in music was no longer a threat, but if it is still frightening, then this [Webber’s] attack is an encouraging sign that modernism is alive and in good health.’[6] Rosen offers an exceedingly subjective and essentially pointless defense of modernism (‘I myself, for example, do not care for the music Messiaen…when I reflect that some of the finest musicians today…adore Messiaen, I realize that I, too, would learn to love his music if I decided to put my mind to it. The admirers of Messiaen are clearly right and I am wrong’) in order to play down the importance of the taste of the listener, making no space for the concept of qualia. He also points out the successes within art circles of certain late-modernist composers: ‘Pierre Boulez, indeed, is almost a public institution.’ He does admits that this modern music has failed to win over a massive audience (a massive understatement), but he uses the diminutive public stature of it to point out the absurdity of Webber’s claim that modernism is to blame for the decline of classical music. Rosen instead points out that all new classical music enjoys this decline and, citing the fact that conservative composers, such as Samuel Barber and Virgil Thompson, have no more mass appeal than the extreme modernists, blames the mindset of the record industry and the attitudes of promoters for the ailing health of the classical music scene.[7]

In invoking the similar problems faced by conservative composers as evidence, Rosen has implicitly agreed with Webber about a key point: classical music (of every type) is on the decline. This is clear in the stock of a record store: aisles upon aisles of popular music compared to the invariably tiny-by-comparison section, usually toward the back, devoted to ‘classical’ recordings. Bayan Northcott even claims that the term ‘classical,’ when used in this all-encompassing, commercial way, suggests that ‘Western tradition is complete, finished,’ a thing of the past, a historical fact unlikely to inspire anything creatively new.[8] Here is seems as though Northcott, like Rosen, is blaming the record industry for this overall decline. But is the industry actually at fault?

Rosen thinks it is: ‘the causes of our present difficulty can be laid right at the door of the recording industry.’ He uses the case of Sony as an example, who, as a business, is obviously out to make a profit. To do this, Sony (in this case Sony Masterworks) has adopted the strategy of releasing only records that will sell many thousands of copies. Standard old classics are already abundantly available, so to keep profits up Sony must continue to find new works that sell. Rosen posits that the decision makers at Sony believe that only works that are not difficult will be able to sell and even claims that ‘if [Sony] were serious about classical music, [they] would try to deal with the problem of finding an audience for it, instead of inventing substitutes.’[9] This critique suffers from a fatal flaw that undermines his entire argument that the record industry is to blame for the decline of classical music. Record companies exist to make a profit. Selling records is simply their chosen means to do so. If market figures show that consumers do not purchase recordings of contemporary classical music, to expect record companies to feel a responsibility to create an audience, rather than pursue the more profitable approach of selling what people buy, is simply unrealistic.

Record labels are not the problem. A particularly useful case to demonstrate this is that of Southern California punk band NoFX. NoFX have always operated independently, outside of the corporate music industry, yet to date they have sold over six million records worldwide, and their concerts continue to sell out.[10] This has all been accomplished as a result of a tireless ‘do it yourself’ attitude, and NoFX are by no means the only example of such success. As such, it cannot be said that attention from and marketing by a major label is a necessary condition for commercial musical success- or musical success in the public eye- regardless of the type of music. Rosen’s blame is misplaced as much as Webber’s.

Recent changes in the industry- the result of affordable and widely available recording technologies and new means of distribution- serve to underline the misplacement of Rosen’s blame. These new means, such as free online dissemination of new music to the public, offer composers a greater opportunity than ever before for their music to gain exposure to listeners. But many composers still imagine a divide between themselves and those listeners. Where did this conception come from?

The split between the classical music community and the listening public can be traced from the beginning of the century, with Alban Berg’s attempts to explain why people find Schoenberg’s music challenging. Berg ultimately places the blame on the listener’s musical training and experience, or lack thereof. Milton Babbitt continues this line of thought through the century in his essay ‘Who Cares if you Listen?’ in which he proposes that composers simply ignore untrained listeners altogether.[11]

In the opening of his 1924 article, ‘Why is Schoenberg’s music so hard to understand?’ Berg posits a set of conditions for musical understanding: ‘Generally speaking, to understand this language [music] in its entirety and details means recognizing the entrance, duration, and end of all melodies, hearing the simultaneous sounding of voices not as random occurrences, but as harmonies, and experiencing the small and large concatenations and contrasts as such.’[12] He then engages in a brief analysis of the thematic, harmonic, and rhythmic materials used in the first ten bars of Schoenberg’s String Quartet in D Minor, describing reasons the listener may lose track of or be unable to comprehend these characteristics.[13] The harmony of the first ten bars, for instance, offers a rich collection of chords and chord combinations, which come about as an example of extremely virtuosic polyphonic (but very strict) four-part writing. When notated in a chorale-like fashion, the harmonic plan seems simple (according to Berg), but when these fifty or more chords rocket past in the space of a few seconds, this ‘alone can explain why a listener accustomed to the poverty of harmonic degrees in other contemporary composers, is not capable of comprehending [this music].’ Berg offers similar explanations for the difficulties encountered by listeners in understanding the rhythm and melody of these first ten bars, generally arguing that the materials used are too rich in their construction and development for these ‘poverty-accustomed listeners’ to handle. Their accusations of both decadence and a lack of consideration in voice leading for the resulting vertical sounds in Schoenberg’s music are shown, by Berg, to be false, as his analysis shows that nothing in the music is accidental, and are instead developments of traditional conceptions of music beyond the ears of the average listener. ‘Anyone who… cannot follow the music should consider it his own fault….’[14]

In making this statement, Berg unequivocally places the blame for the perceived incomprehensibility of Schoenberg’s music squarely on the listener. In essence, he is stating that no one without advanced training and experience can understand or comprehend contemporary classical music. This view is widely held by proponents of such ‘advanced’ music today, as is evidenced by the abundance of program notes and educational materials distributed at concerts and with recordings of this music, in attempts to give listeners the knowledge they are believed to need to comprehend what they are hearing. In his book Music: Healing the Rift, Daily Telegraph music critic Ivan Hewett traces the growing need from the late-Romantic period on for music to be explained to listeners, and succinctly summarizes the condition of the modern music listener:

When Stravinsky toured the USA for the first time in the 1930s, several prominent newspapers published articles […] complete with musical examples, explaining how this alarmingly modern music was structured, and how it should be listened to. By that time the need for programme notes had become even more acute, because the changes in music’s material had accelerated way beyond the capacities of audiences to keep up with them. Come forward another 20 years, to the postwar avant-garde, and the relationship between music and its explaining text has become one of total dependence. Not a single feature of the music can now be ‘taken as read’ – absolutely everything has to be explained…[15]

Berg’s conclusion and Hewett’s description of current conditions serve to demonstrate the commonly held belief that for contemporary classical music to be understood (and thus enjoyed) by a wide audience, that audience must be educated in music. From this arises the apprehension that composers of contemporary music direct their art entirely to professionals, and ‘refuse to lower themselves to the level of the mass public.’[16] While Rosen himself discredits this last idea, stating that, ‘composers, artists, and writers have always wanted popular success-but on their own terms,’ some might argue that “composers’ own terms,” are beyond the listening comprehension of audiences.[17]

Richard Taruskin points out on numerous occasions that this view- that much of contemporary classical music is beyond the perceptual abilities of the lay-listener- is largely the result of academic snobbery and ignorance. Taruskin cites the music of Steve Reich as an example of highly complex music that can be ‘grasped by the naked ear,’ and points out that the music of Thomas Adés which, while maintaining a ‘precocious technical sophistication,’ has ‘urgency and fervor, and manages to communicate directly.’[18] In making these arguments Taruskin is simply providing evidence to what would otherwise seem a priori: listeners are entirely capable of understanding complex, challenging music.

Examples from the realm of challenging popular music, or, to coin a term, ‘smart pop,’ bolster Taruskin’s argument by demonstrating that the idea that listeners must have a musical education, or at least a guiding text, to rely on to appreciate a modern piece, is simply incorrect.

There are many bands whose music relies on the complexity and dissonance that Berg and others accuse the listener of failing to appreciate, many of which have large fan-bases consisting mainly of people without advanced musical training, or at least without an extensive formal knowledge of music. Take, for instance, the music of rock bands such as The Dillinger Escape Plan and Battles. Many of their tracks are governed by a rhythmic and structural complexity that easily matches the sophistication of that practiced by Schoenberg, and, especially in the case of Dillinger Escape Plan, the use of rapid, dissonant harmonic and melodic motion is even more drastic than that found in Schoenberg’s quartet. The shocking moves between highlighted minor ninth and major seventh based sonorities, usually with amplifiers turned up to the proverbial ‘eleven,’ and surrounded by downright screaming and the sounds of breaking glass are evidence of this, and by taking the concept of dissonance beyond mere pitch relationships into sound itself many of these bands write music of an expressive intensity never before dreamed of in the classical realm.[19] One might even argue that, for purely musical reasons, Adorno would be proud. Bands like this have found wide commercial success while maintaining their technical means and artistic integrity. Perhaps too obvious an example is the work of Radiohead, whose music has prompted a string of books and articles analyzing the harmonic implications of tone clusters used throughout OK Computer[20], the tonal structures governing entire albums in their output, and their role as a musical entity refuting, or at least subverting, Baudrillard’s concept of hyperreality.[21] This is heady stuff for a band who grossed over one million dollars per concert in 2008,[22] and serves to illustrate that, not only can rich, complex, uncompromised music be commercially viable, but, more important, that listeners without a musical education can appreciate and even enjoy it. In light of this, as well as the examples offered by Taruskin, Berg’s arguments and the evidence offered by Hewett no longer seem convincing.

But what happens when composers couldn’t care less about communicating with their listeners? If writing music far beyond the comprehension of audiences begins to build a wall between the contemporary classical community and the listening public, composers actively choosing to ignore this public mortar the final bricks into place.

Not everyone believes this is a bad thing. Schoenberg founded the Society for Private Musical Performances in Vienna during the war with the intent of excluding audiences, ‘so that people could really hear what the composers had composed without the paraphernalia of public concert life.’[23] Milton Babbitt wrote about the musical advantages offered to composers by such cultural marginalization/isolation of the art form. He suggests that a composer would ‘do himself and his music an immediate and eventual service by total, resolute, and voluntary withdrawal’ from the public sphere to ‘one of private performance and electronic media, with its very real possibility of complete elimination of the public and social aspects of musical composition.’ The advantage of this, Babbitt claims, is that the composer would be free to pursue professional achievement without the compromise and exhibitionism forced upon him by public life.[24]

The problem with this, of course, is that for composing this music to survive as a profession, it must have some sort of value to the public, aesthetic or otherwise. Babbitt compares the current state of contemporary classical art music to that of theoretical physics, in that it should be free from the scrutiny of an uncomprehending public to pursue its own means, preferably in the setting of universities. In following this course, music would move strongly toward becoming an object solely for cerebral contemplation, and away from any sort of visceral experience of emotional qualia. It seems as though any and all music that has found public success has at least some sort of visceral quality to it, be it in the triumphant finale of Beethoven’s Ninth, the repetitive pounding of commercially produced dance music, the state of tranquility induced by various minimalist composers (one thinks of Reich’s ‘Music for Eighteen Musicians’), or the adrenaline-fueled aggression of punk and metal.[25]

So the public doesn’t care, or at least doesn’t know enough to care, about the majority of new classical music. Webber blames this on modernist composers, Rosen blames it on record labels. It is astounding to think that neither thought to blame themselves. The career approach taken by practitioners of new classical music is solely to blame for its decline in the public eye. ‘Composers in our time have perhaps been too ready to accept the conditions of the artistic world around them as they find it,’ writes Alexander Goehr. ‘Putting it at its most negative, they have been quite happy to walk into their subsidized ghetto and exist within the protection of its walls, little concerned with whether what they do is really being greeted with any kind of comprehension by whatever small part of the general public is concerned with modern art anyway, and scrabbling around within these walls as if this were a permanent and final condition for the art that they pursued.’[26] This is a nearly perfect summation of the current condition composers maintain, and many even strive for early in their careers.

Those who lock themselves within the walls, looking for some sort of artistically pure and free space within which to pursue their goals (as Babbitt would have hoped, and Schoenberg actively tried for), nowadays end up undermining themselves. Goehr continues:

After the [Second World] War […] people were prepared to accept something new. […] I think it’s true to say that the audience no longer feels this. […] The real interest in the content – the philosophical content – of modern music has disappeared, and I am afraid that very often all that remains is a sort of personality cult, centered on the flamboyant imitators in the high arts of the much more genuinely challenging pop or punk personalities.[27]

Goehr, in making this statement, hits the nail on the head. Contemporary composition has found itself in its crisis of publicity because composers are simply not aggressive enough. They are happy to imitate the extremism of their counterparts in the pop and punk world, without going to the trouble to do anything dangerous enough to draw attention to itself, or even, in many cases, to pursue projects without ‘institutional support’ and funding. Any record producer or promoter – or successful popular musician – will tell you that you have to tour (i.e. perform a lot) to sell records and get your name out there. Having a new piece for orchestra performed once per year, and often without a repeat performance, simply won’t do the trick.

Composers should instead realize their progressive musical ideas in economically and practically viable formats. One notably successful approach is for composers to perform their own works. This instantly negates the need for composers to find performers, hence drastically reducing the costs of concert production seen as a barrier to making art economically practicable. This also reduces the cost of tickets, making the music available to a wider audience demographic. Beyond this, while an orchestra may perform the work of any individual living composer once per season (usually less), a composer performing his own works can guarantee a performance every night. In short, more concerts equates to higher visibility for this music.

New approaches to recording also must be taken, especially as a result of developments in technology and distribution in recent years. High quality home recording has become affordable for even the most dismal of budgets. With a little practice, a composer can create a CD of his own music in little time. And online distribution is either free or nearly free. While this has utterly revolutionized the popular music world’s approach to public dissemination, most composers of contemporary classical music seem to have been left in the dark, continuing to vie for attention from commissioning bodies, grant organizations, and publishing companies.

Even the concert-going experience itself needs to be redesigned for new music to thrive. Lawrence Kramer points out that the often-made comparison between the concert hall and the museum is a mistake, because, “unlike the traditional concert hall, the museum has become an animated space by affording opportunities to combine sociability, informality, and the enjoyment of art.”[28] ‘Social’ and ‘informal’ are the last two words one could use to describe most concert halls today; at a recital by pianist Daniel Adni at the Dartington Festival this past August, when the audience was about to vocally express their approval for a particularly lively Martinu movement (with one more movement to go), Adni raised his hand and gave the audience a glare that could only demand, or force, silent acceptance. How composers and performers can expect their music to engage people who are denied the right to respond to it is beyond comprehension, and gives weight to the popular belief that attending classical concerts is boring.

Thankfully, this is not always the case. Why set performances at prestigious concert halls of an era long past as a goal – especially while waving the flag of modernism – when setting up a concert of your own at a local bar or coffee shop (or park, or bookstore, art gallery, or street-corner…) is so easy, so accessible to anyone? Informal concert situations such as these allow the listeners a more direct engagement with the music. These types of venues are sometimes accused of being too full of distractions for the listener. Amplification does wonders for this, and many composers seem to have missed the train on that one. Interestingly, those who do amplify performances of their work (Steve Reich, David Lang) are increasingly playing to venues sold out far in advance. The author recently saw the band Bell Orchestre perform to a full house in London, supported by a string quartet, who opened the concert with Bartok’s Third String Quartet and music by Arvo Pärt and Jonathan Harvey. For lack of a better term, the audience loved it, moved to the music with drinks in hand, and cheered as they would for any ‘popular’ act. This shows venues such as these are viable as a public outlet for art music, and also shows that ‘average listeners’ are ready to engage with classical music when it is made available to them, and when it does not purport to oppress those it depends on for its survival (listeners).

There is a visual aspect to musical engagement that must also be taken into account, even if it is solely in the form of marketing and does not actually add any value to the musical experience. Charles Rosen and Julian Lloyd Webber, and numerous other commentators on the subject, complain of the prevalence of commercial image in attracting an audience to a work or performance, be it the nearly-nude female violinist on an album cover or the clearly intentionally flying hair of Lang Lang.[29] Perhaps these more ‘serious’ musical thinkers have condemned these features as simulacra, designed so that consumers will buy an image as opposed to having an authentic experience with the music hidden by it. Though experiencing the world as a collection of simulacra is arguably inevitable in today’s consumerist society,[30] nothing of the sort can obscure the actual sound waves emanating from a listener’s speakers or a performer’s instrument. As such, marketing simulacra (Lang Lang’s hair) should not matter in the least – one should instead take advantage of these marketing techniques and in doing so subvert the experience of simulacra, moving beyond the system of images to bring listeners back to an authentic experience of art music. Even the previously discussed concert-going experience plays into this, as the image of a more enjoyable venue is more likely to attract listeners, who can then have a genuine, aural experience. Regardless of how it is packaged, the content remains the same, and in so being moves beyond any conception of hyperreality and becomes an actual object in and of itself, signifying nothing. As these ‘classical’ music institutions have become simulacra themselves, operating independently of them will allow this music to exist as anti-music, ultimately making it real.[31]

This is the ultimate lesson that composers of art music today need to learn. They can write music in any style they please, be it modern, neo-romantic, minimalist, or otherwise. Musicologists and other experts can spend their time arguing about its intrinsic artistic values, or its innovative or tired techniques, or its symbolic meaning. But for this music to get anywhere outside of its tiny cult of adherents, and actually matter again, it must catch up with and take advantage of the conditions of modern life- most importantly, independent action and marketing simulacra. And to do this, there is no one that composers can rely on but themselves.


1. For the purposes of this essay, the terms ‘contemporary classical music,’ ‘new music,’ ‘Western art music,’ etc. will be used interchangeably to describe the entirety of modern and postmodern concert music.

2. Joshua Fineberg, Classical Music, Why Bother? (New York: Routledge, 2006), xvi.

3. Julian Lloyd Webber, “Classical Music in Western Culture Today,” Julian Lloyd Webber Official Website, http://www.julianlloydwebber.com/world_economic_forum_speech.htm

4. Ibid.

5. Paul Griffiths, “Don’t Blame Modernists for the Empty Seats,” New York Times.com, 22 March 1998, http://www.nytimes.com/1998/03/22/arts/classical-view-don-t-blame-modernists-for-the-empty-seats.html?scp=1&sq=don%27t%20blame%20modernists%20for%20the%20 empty%20seats&st=cse (accessed 6 August 2009).

6. Charles Rosen, “Who’s Afriad of the Avant-Garde?” New York Review of Books, 45, no. 8, 14 May 1998, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/859 (accessed 6 August 2009).

7. Rosen, sec. 2.

8. Bayan Northcott, The Way We Listen Now, ed. Christopher Wintle, (London: Plumbago, 2009), 153.

9. Rosen, sec. 2.

10. PunkNews.org, “NoFX,” http://www.punknews.org/bands/nofx.

11.This article was originally titled by Babbitt ‘The Composer as Specialist.’ The editors of High Fidelity, where it was first published in 1958, retitled it ‘Who Cares if You Listen?’ Use of this title is better suited to the topics presented here.

12. Alban Berg, “Why is Schoenberg’s music so hard to understand?” Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music, ed. Elliott Schwartz and Barney Childs (New York: Da Capo Press, 1998), 60.

13. Berg, 60 – 68.

14. Berg, 67.

15. Ivan Hewett, Music: Healing the Rift (London: Continuum, 2003), 57 – 58.

16. Rosen, sec. 1.

17. Ibid.

18. Richard Taruskin, “The Danger of Music” and Other Anti-Utopian Essays (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), 100, 145.

19. Dillinger Escape Plan, ‘Sugar Coated Sour,’ ‘43% Burnt,’ and ‘Variations on a Cocktail Dress,’ Calculating Infinity, Hydra Head Records, HH666-43. For a discussion of amplifiers that ‘go up to eleven,’ see This is Spinal Tap, produced by Karen Murphy, directed by Rob Reiner, 82 minutes, MGM Home Entertainment, 1984, DVD.

20. Dai Griffiths, OK Computer, 33 1/3 series (New York: Continuum, 2004), 87 – 96.

21. Tim Footman, “Hyperreally Saying Something,” in Radiohead and Philosophy: Fitter, Happier, More Deductive, ed. Brandon W. Forbes and George A. Reisch (Chicago: Open Court, 2009), 251 – 262.

22. Reuters, “Concert Boxscore for the 2008-08-13 issue,” http://www.reuters.com/article/ billboardCharts/idUSN0247337920081102 (accessed 7 August 2009).

23. Alexander Goehr, “Modern Music and its Society,” in Finding the Key, ed. Derrick Puffett (London: Faber and Faber, 1998), 78.

24. Milton Babbitt, “Who Cares If You Listen?” in Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music, ed. Elliott Schwartz and Barney Childs (New York: Da Capo Press, 1998), 249 – 250.

25. Raymond Geuss makes a similar point about the reception of Schoenberg’s music by his Viennese audiences. See Raymond Geuss, “Art and Criticism in Adorno’s Aesthetics,” The European Journal Of Philosophy 6, no. 3 (1998), 307 – 308.

26. Goehr, 97.

27. Ibid.

28. Lawrence Kramer, Why Classical Music Still Matters (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 13.

29. Fineberg, 7.

30. Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation, trans. Sheila Faria Glaser (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1994), 1 – 3.

31. Baudrillard, 19. He also backs this claim in the chapter ‘The Implosion of Meaning in the Media,’ arguing that while medium is indeed a substantial part of the precession of simulacra, the contained message (in this case the musical content) is in fact a credible or authentic object. See Baudrillard, 82.


All material copyright Nick Norton unless otherwise noted.