May 30, 2003
Being an enemy of subsidies is not the same as being an enemy of what is being subsidised

While googling for a link to the Kempff/Leitner/Beethoven recordings discussed in the posting immediately before and below this one, I came across a site called the Enemies of Classical Music, which ought to be fun.

However, if entry number one, John Ashcroft, is anything to go by, it is not so much fun as dishonest, politically motivated nonsense.

Ashcroft is quoted saying these two things – this:

"The average guy [who] wants to go down and see Garth Brooks at the country concert, he doesn't get a federal subsidy, but the silk-stocking crowd wants to go to watch the ballet or the symphony orchestra, they get a subsidy."

… and this:

"I tend not to be an individual who has invested a great deal of my life in opera. Now the opera gets a subsidy from the National Endowment for the Arts, but, by and large, Willie Nelson and Garth Brooks don't. Those of us who drive our pickups to those concerts don't get a subsidy, but the people who drive their Mercedes to the opera get a subsidy."

Ashcroft may or may not be an "enemy of classical music". From this evidence it is impossible to tell. What he definitely is is an enemy of the unfairness, as he sees it, of subsidising classical music but not other more popular kinds of music.

Personally I go further than Ashcroft does in either of these quotes. (After all, you could interpret his words as a plea for subsidies to the likes of Willie Nelson and Garth Brooks.) I oppose subsidies to any sort of music, Nelson, Brooks, opera, the lot. And I defy Matthew B. Tepper to call me an enemy of classical music just because I don't agree with him about the government subsidising it.

I genuinely believe that subsidies for classical music have harmed classical music, especially what passes for "new" classical music. Subsidies have helped to separate new classical music from new regular music, and thereby helped to drain the life out of it. It's a point of view. And certainly not one based on hating classical music as such.

I won't expand on this point of view now, as I have a busy day in front of me. I need to get my blogging duties done and my living room dusted.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:31 PM
Category: Classical musicPop music