I was waxing lyrical to a friend recently about the quality of classical music compared with modern music. I explained that classical music has centuries of composers to call upon whereas modern music, in all its forms, derives, by definition, from people living now or recently and, as such, the well of talent is not likley to be as deep. He pointed out that classical music had been primarily the preserve of a small elite of the population (he might also have pointed out that the living population of the past was significantly smaller than it is today) so my point was not valid.
The point he made I felt was interesting and valid so I thought I would put a question to the forum based upon it.
Great composers of the past such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and the like, seem to stand as justified giants of music. Why should this be so, given that the population of people such composers were drawn from was so small?
For my part, I think that greatness is a function not just of ones ability but the era in which one lives. There can be little doubt that people with the same level of talent are around today, but how many of them would choose to compose complex pieces of classical music when the rewards of fame and fortune becon their talents to more superficial forms of music. And, despite the fact that we live in a more egalitarian society, which seems to give people with talent a chance to succeed, access to academies of music brilliance is still for the elite, so much of the talent that exists lacks the knowledge of music, if not the expressive postential, to build upon the talents of past masters.