Fans of classical music usually know what to expect when they walk through the doors of a concert hall. Whether they prefer chamber music, orchestral works, or opera, most of the music programmed for a typical event will be from the (sometimes quite distant) past. Names like Beethoven, Bach, Puccini, Liszt, and Debussy are well-known to even the most casual of concertgoers, while connoisseurs often greet these storied names – and their no less storied works – as old friends.
The relationship of classical music in the moment—the living, breathing people who make the music happen and the audiences who consume it – with its past – the now-dead composers whose works, by and large, comprise the bulk of concert programming – is a long and complex story that couldn’t be adequately covered in a single blog post. For the moment it will have to suffice to say that this relationship of past to present has been at the heart of classical music as both an artform and an industry for a long time.