The music industry is a forever-changing landscape. In recent news, hip hop has now surpassed rock as the most popular genre of music. Even hip hop songs are dominating the charts in multiple countries across the globe. In recent trends, we’ve been in an era of trap music, filled with auto-tuned vocals, skittering hi-hats, and rumbling 808s. However, there are other more subtle genres of music that have seen better days and are slowly dying, such as classical music.
Classical music, a genre associated with complexity and the upper class, has been hitting lows. The death of classical music has been a topic of wide discussion. The genre currently holds about one percent of music consumption in America and 2.8 percent in album sales worldwide. The news has been filled with falling attendance of concerts and closing of major orchestras. It seems that classical music is reaching an end. However, this would not be the case if there were changes to how it’s perceived.
Classical music’s waning popularity can be traced to the youth, including past generations: for the baby boomers, it was Elvis, for Generation Z, it was Nirvana. The survival of classical music depends on the youth, and in order to appeal to it, multiple changes must be made to the perception of classical music.
One possible solution to enhance the appeal of classical music is a government-funded program to allow children to appreciate the genre. With Trump’s recent proposal to eliminate federal art funding in America, this has become an increasingly controversial topic. Many countries such as Australia have given grants or funds to musicians to support them on their musical journey.
The same thing can be applied to the classical music genre with governments supporting it by supplementing kids with early music appreciation. Sweden spent 220 million dollars in 2016 supporting Swedish artists realizing the importance of such a culture. Radio stations such as KUSC plays classical music for its listeners, and the government could do this in a similar manner to increase exposure. A greater awareness of the genre can go a long way.
Still, to this day, the only method of listening to a cla
ssical performance live is through a concert. A concert where people in tuxedos arrive at a large hall and remain silent for an hour or so. This is what makes it difficult for the genre to appeal to a wide audience. Even adults find it difficult to sit still for two hours, let alone children. But, in an effort to revive classical music, there have been violinists such as Lindsey Stirling or David Garrett that have incorporated more rock, pop, or EDM. Moreover, their shows incorporate audience interaction and more casual live performances for anyone to enjoy.
Obviously, classical music does not need to give in to more popular genres of music, but there are elements of it that can still be implemented. The accessibility of classical music needs to be increased dramatically for any chance of redemption, and the cult of professionalism and perfection needs to broken. The excitement, adrenaline, and fun need to be reinvigorated into classical to appeal to the youth.
Now some people may ask “Why classical?” Classical is a representation of our human intelligence, over 1,000 years of human intelligence. The genre goes back to the Medieval Times to contemporary. To lose it would mean the extinction of information and the advancements we’ve made as a civilization in culture and arts. Can you imagine an art gallery of Picasso but without any of his actual artwork? Similarly, imagine a biography of Mozart, but with none of his music coupled with it. We must preserve the art that has influenced today’s art, it’s a part of our culture that continues to influence and inspire us.
Dean Doyoon Kim, Grade 10
Cleveland High School