That last post about things that won’t save classical music prompted this response from my friend Denise:

Dear lord – I can’t even start to read all of this.

You should do a March Madness bracket with this. Some of this is

trash, and some are really ideas. I say the last idea standing is

crowned as the savior. That crown may be made of thorns, but still.

How many office pools are going on, and pulling for “artistic

quality” over “Joshua Bell”?

This is a ridiculous idea, but that has never stopped me before…

The full list of articles is:

  1. Lowell Liebermann
  2. YouTube
  3. Artistic Quality
  4. Getting rid of snobs
  5. Drew McManus
  6. James Rhodes’ choice of footwear
  7. Hot young conductor eye candy
  8. Asians
  9. Facebook
  10. Dallapiccola
  11. Empowered American musicians
  12. Kronos Quartet
  13. Education
  14. Multimedia events and innovative programming
  15. Communism
  16. China
  18. 5 Mormon children
  19. Inspiring music
  20. Glitz
  21. Gustavo Dudamel
  22. Rock stars
  23. Greg Sandow’s music
  24. The Web
  25. The Internet
  26. Joshua Bell
  27. Bond
  28. Listening to the customers
  29. Crossover
  30. Classical music

No matter how great, the work of Lowell Liebermann is no match for the massive archival potential of YouTube, so that’s an easy first match. Getting rid of snobs would be nice, but it’s no substitute for Artistic Quality. Drew McManus is a consultant so I feel like, on principle, he should lose to James Rhodes’ choice of footwear, but for reasons mostly mathematical I’m going to let them both go through. Hot young conductor eye candy can’t compete with a whole continent, so this match goes to the Asians. Facebook gets a second chance, if only because if Dallapiccola was going to save classical music, I feel like we would have heard about it by now. I like the Kronos Quartet, but Empowered American musicians is a much better article. Education is a gross oversimplification of a proper article by Greg Sandow, whereas as Multimedia events and innovative programming is a press release. Done. The next one ought to be tougher than it is: Communism isn’t going to help anybody, whereas China has produced a bunch of great soloists and about a billion new customers. 5 Mormon children didn’t outlast the hype, but Downloads have survived the test of short-term memory. Muso owes me money, so I’m going with the Glitz of Dudu over the Inspiring music of some kid I’ve never heard of. Rock stars is a dumb catalog marketing idea, so Gustavo Dudamel beats that too. I can’t believe this is happening, but there’s more coherent commentary in Greg Sandow’s music than in the whole of The Web, so he goes through to the next round twice. The next two articles are feeble, but The Internet doesn’t assume that crossover musicians will save classical music, so Joshua Bell is out. Bond should be seen and not heard, whereas we really should be Listening to the customers. Crossover is a way of artificially inflating record sales, but Classical music is our core activity, and it deserves greater focus.

Round 2 looks like this:

  1. YouTube
  2. Artistic Quality
  3. Drew McManus
  4. James Rhodes’ choice of footwear
  5. Asians
  6. Facebook
  7. Empowered American musicians
  8. Education
  9. China
  11. Glitz
  12. Gustavo Dudamel
  13. Greg Sandow’s music
  14. The Internet
  15. Listening to the customers
  16. Classical music

Medium can’t trump message, so Artistic Quality beats YouTube. Drew McManus beats James Rhodes’ choice of footwear, but only because I don’t want to see Michael White win an argument by sniping at a musician for something other than the way he plays. Asians beat Facebook because they’re coming for us, and we’re all too busy playing Farmville to notice. Education is important, but I don’t think it’s a substitute for giving artists the space to create good work, so Empowered American musicians lives on. Downloads are pretty neat, but they’re just a delivery mechanism, so I’m giving this one to China. The next two are basically the same, but Glitz is the better article. Greg Sandow’s music beats The Internet on literary flair, and Listening to the customers loses to the more comprehensive suggestion that everyone in Classical music has some work to do.

Quarter-Finals, then:

  1. Artistic Quality
  2. Drew McManus
  3. Asians
  4. Empowered American musicians
  5. China
  6. Glitz
  7. Greg Sandow’s music
  8. Classical music

The consultant finally loses to Artistic Quality. Asians lose, but only because the specific Asians we’re talking about are the ones that win the Van Cliburn competition while the Empowered American musicians don’t need to win a contest to get heard. China isn’t a coherent argument, so Glitz wins, and in the epic battle of Sandow vs. Ross, I’m going with Classical music.

Semi-Finals look like this:

  1. Artistic Quality
  2. Empowered American musicians
  3. Glitz
  4. Classical music

Artistic Quality contains some really good ideas, but Empowered American musicians is a considerably more comprehensive survey of the landscape. Glitz is fun, but it’s no match for Classical music.

The Final Showdown:

  1. Empowered American musicians
  2. Classical music

Aren’t these basically the same thing? Yes and no. Tony Tommasini says classical music needs saving from itself. Alex Ross says classical music is saving itself. It’s ridiculous to compare two such insightful pieces of journalism on the basis of conflicting rhetorical devices, but Alex comes across as much less whiny. It’s an unattractive trait in a music critic, so I’m giving it to him.

The winner:

  1. Classical music

Phew. Aren’t you glad there aren’t any play-offs?


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  1. The ‘Death’ of ‘Classical Music’ « Sound is Grammar

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