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I think the problem is that many of contemporary composers got lost doing soundtracks or experimentalism, in other words they are stuck. Composers today are paid to make 5 minutes long themes, or new age and world music, or they try to attract some academic interest doing experimental music. The situation of composers, like painters and all artists in general, has never been easy. So the problem is not their condition or salary, the problem is what people pay them for. Nobody pays them for symphonies, also what is the value of a symphony today? It's an outdated genre, let's face it. Yet there are not really new genres. I think if today's composers are not considered as good as past ones, it's because maybe they didn't really had a big chance to prove it (also, nobody really cares). How much can you prove with a 3 min piece for a spot? Music needs new directions without getting stuck in innovation for innovation's sake, in past times we had people like Beethoven showing the way to others, but today maybe there are not people who want to take that responsibility, so music is stuck in movie scores which can hardly prove the value of composers in my opinion.
 

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On the other hand, concertos are still quite popular I think, at least for established composers - possibly commissioned by famous soloists. But indeed, I have the feeling (maybe wrong) that contemporary composers may focus more on chamber and solo music, which would be easier to get performed.
You are right, I hadn't considered that. Yet we're talking about established composers mostly, which also rely on famous soloist to get public. Chamber works sadly get less attention, as chamber music is seen by many as "background music". Since I am discovering chamber music myself in these days after years passed overlooking it, I cannot say if today's composers are as good as past ones in that genre. Also, of course, the difficulty to get the music performed is a huge problem. But there are a lot of possibilities with technology. As I am approaching a little of composition myself, I discovered softwares, samplers to be more precise, which can allow to produce orchestral music with a good PC and a midi keyboard! The sound libraries get more realistic every year, now there are super realistic ones like this, it's really like having an orchestra in your computer: https://www.spitfireaudio.com/shop/a-z/spitfire-symphony-orchestra/ but as you can see the problem is the high price and the technologic competence required, but that would totally solve the problem of performance. Of course, real instruments are always better but technology give composers more opportunities.
 

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Although I have read some interesting posts, none of them address my frustration.

There are many in the classical community who think that living composers are not as good as pre-20th century composers.

As an amateur musician I have had the good fortune to meet many outstanding composers. To my ears their music is just as good as anything composed in the 19th century.

I do not have the expertise to explain why since I am not a musicologist. My feelings are based solely on my experiences as a performing musician.
Since I was a child, along with Beethoven etc, I have always listened to John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore etc. I do believe the last one in particular to be a great composer, maybe not Beethoven ok (who is like him...?), but I think he wouldn't make a bad impression if he lived in those times. :) which artists would you recommend?
 

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I'd like to add something to this discussion. It is also true that, in my opinion and in my own perception, today's composers do not have an obsession to create masterpieces and become great masters feeling like that is their life mission, their only reason why they are born unlike certain composers of the past. What I mean is: if you read Mozart's and Beethoven's letters for example, you discover they had an obsession for their art, it was not only their job, it was not only hard work it was literally their life, the main thing they lived for. Mozart composed in every single moment of his life. When he was eating, when he was playing pool, when he was having fun with his friends, always. He composed pieces in his mind, then wrote everything down when he could, sometimes though he needed to write the ideas down immediatly and completely detached from the world. Beethoven had always with him, everywhere he went, a notebook on which he constantly wrote ideas. It was their life mission, the reason they were alive. That is true also for all the greatest musicians, dancers, performers of any kind. But I feel like that's not the case for many composers today. They like what they do, yes, it isn't the reason of their existence though. Maybe I'm wrong.
 

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I watched a documentary about Frank Zappa. There is no other way to describe him than as you described Mozart and Beethoven's obsession.

This dichotomy that some here want to claim divides the composers of the CP with today's composers is false, IMO. Don't fall prey to the idea that because you have trouble connecting with today's new classical music that the motivation behind it is either on a lower level than that for earlier composers whose music connect with easily, or that they don't have the same kind of dedication.

Much in the world has changed but what hasn't changed is that composers and artists are still motivated by an aesthetic vision and have developed the craft and discipline to carry it out.
OK but that's Frank Zappa, like Jimi Hendrix that slept with his guitar. He's one in a million, I was talking in general about composers trained in a conservatory.
 

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I was thinking...
1) One cannot really truly compare composer X to composer Y if they lived different times and composed in very different styles and genres because we'll end up using different canons, judging a concerto grosso like it should be a symphonic poem. Imagine comparing Tchaikovsky to Bach, what's the sense of it. So maybe in a similar way we cannot really compare today's composers to romantics/classicists/baroque etc.

2) Critics. I do not know about today's criticism of contemporary music, what critics do and what they say, but how much does it matter in the perception we have of contemporary composers? And by contemporary I don't mean Schoenberg, but composers which didn't die 70 years ago, that died recently or are still alive and composing.
 

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Can I tell you, as an ex-conservatory student, the problems I encountered with musical education? I'm 26 now and I attended conservatory as a child for five years then dropped. This is what I noticed:
1) Knowledge doesn't mean ability to teach well, expecially to kids.
2) Many teachers didn't want to be teachers in the first place, therefore they do not really care sadly, what matters to them is to take their salary.
3) Many teachers mainly care to prepare the student for the exams. The aim is to pass the exam rather than to form future Musicians, that is really a path that makes learning music horrible and schematic. That way the student doesn't feel interest in learning. The student doesn't learn to play or write a beautiful piece, he learns to pass the exam focused on exercises. That is a problem of conservatories today.
4) Teachers often do not encourage students that much.
5) Teachers do not help the students to cultivate their passion by showing them more and varied things and approaches.
6) If the teacher himself is closed minded and has bias, those are passed to the student.
 

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I don't know if this has already been said, if so I apologize. I study history of art and when a professor was trying to explain contemporary art to us, she told me this, which is appliable to music as well: "The art of the past has been already filtered. When you look at the 19 century, you already know who's great because that selection has already been made. Artists have already been discussed, history of art proceeded in a certain way, so Monet ended up being more important and influential than the other hundreds of fine painters that painted in his time. For the art of 21st century that didn't happen yet. So of course we see many artists and we find many not to be good enough."
Do you know a Renaissance painter called Perugino? I bet many of you don't. You remember Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo. But Perugino was as famous as them. He was so famous and considered so great, that literally every noble wanted a Perugino painting. It had becomed a trend: "Omg, you own a Perugino!!! How wealthy and lucky you are!!". XD
There are countless good painters in the Renaissance and following centuries. And when you look at them, you see that they were great. But they were not as innovative and influential as others. Other underrated painters in their times, today are being re-discovered, etc. The same is appliable for music. So of course today it is difficult to get who's great and who isn't. Only history will tell. Now we can hear 500 composers and maybe just 5 of them are the important ones and we don't eventi get it. It is for sure we shouldn't discourage them, but support them, the way composers of the past have been supported.
 

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I think the way to portray the classical music in the music video can be interpreted in two different ways;
You're overestimating the artistic views of K-pop bands. This is only cheap a copy of Beyonce's video at Louvre. Which was a dumb way to say "black renaissance has started" or something along the lines.

I'm not saying composers of the past such as Bach weren't great in terms of musical expression; but we need to stop indulging in this "delusion" that artists of the past were sort of some sort of "gods", whereas artists of other musical genres and contemporary music are mere "mortals".
In some way they are, though. At least the majority of them. Since we still don't have the filters of history, the real "gods" amongst contemporary composers are still unrecognizable for now. I would agree to put Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis on the same pedestal of Mozart though. But we've already had "the filter" there. Today, in the 21st century, it's still difficult. Mainly because I feel like the most famous enstablished musicians/composers today are more interested in doing a good job that sells than to push their art further. Which takes me to: "pieces of great artistic value are still mostly underground".
 

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I would agree to put Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis on the same pedestal of Mozart though. But we've already had "the filter" there. Today, in the 21st century, it's still difficult. Mainly because I feel like the most famous enstablished musicians/composers today are more interested in doing a good job that sells than to push their art further. Which takes me to: "pieces of great artistic value are still mostly underground".
True, but it's also considered a sacrilege in our classical music circles to say, for example etc.
Yes, but even the avant-garde were considered a sacrilege (still are by some ignorants). But now, when you open a book of history of art/music, you see the names of Pollock, of Stravinsky, etc. So I'd say it is only a matter of time. The critics are more open today than in the past. Also of course there is still the "romantic filter" which makes us see european arts of the past
as the greatest that has ever existed and people like Mozart and Beethoven are like gods, yes, but while we complain that other artists are not seen as valid as them, this is already happening: https://images.app.goo.gl/aJEDo9NaHoH64uXh9
It is only a matter of time.
While I do agree we can't see artists as perfect infallible absolute beings who did everything alone, waking up one day and completely out of nowhere revolutioned arts, at the same time what they did was godly and not something anybody could have done. They were special and they were different and they did the biggest amount of work. They deserve their status. My only question is if "contemporary classical music" (neo-romantic music, minimalism, etc.) is still the right genre to follow. Maybe composers should create something different, not for innovation itself for the sake of it, just because maybe everything in those genres has been said.

Edit: sorry hammeredklavier, I am doing multiple things, I've read your post quickly and misunderstood. The reason why it is sacrilege to say those things is mostly because the ones who claim those things often:
- do exagerrate their views often using arrogant tones
- many just mainly want to appear original, clever and be alternative
- their views can be said about everybody
- their views still do really not diminish the genius of those composers
- some views are just plain wrong and ignorant
- even experts can be haters. I know a professor who thinks Botticelli is overrated and a bad painter because he didn't innovate anything, according to him "he did nothing". Others think Leonardo is overrated. But I can assure you they're just hipsters/haters.
Historical criticism is one thing. Plain wrong unsupported bashing is another.
Also people are touchy about their heroes. Do not ever say Beethoven or Mozart or Bach were less than perfect in every aspect. Even classical music has its fanboys.
 

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I do agree with you that contemporary composers are writing, recording, and performing their works through a DIY process. Not necessarily underground, since there are venues, YouTube channels (as well as other social media) and formats for new music that are quite out in the open. Those interested in this music know where to find it.
Of course, youtube and spotify are great resources. But when you turn on the radio you hear Katy Perry, not them. So the big public doesn't know them like they knew Hendrix or Beethoven.
 

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Isn't there some classical radio stations such as BBC Radio 3, even though they may not be popular with the public? For instance in my area there is a classical music radio station that one may tune to if one so desire.
Same thing. I listen to Classical FM. It seems to me the contemporary artists they stream are mainly popular soundtrack composers who did not much except doing a catchy theme for a movie.
 

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As I said those who are interested know where to find new classical music.
How many people are they? How many classical listeners know John Williams more than [insert any name of contemporary composer you find artistically valid]? Even people who don't listen to classical music know Hans Zimmer, John Williams etc. You don't get my point. It's like the difference between Oasis and Fugazi. "Who the hell are Fugazi?" one might ask me and I would answer "A great super influential band with great artistic merits, unlike the Oasis". But not many know them. That's my point. It doesn't matter "people interested know where to find them". My point is: the great artists today are mostly unknown, so to understand their greatness is difficult if "no one" knows them. We'll get it just a few years from now.
 

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I am not interested in numbers; which is why I said "people interested know where to find them." However many that is, it is what it is. Experimental or avant-garde classical music will never enjoy a mass audience, and the practitioners and their fans know this.

I managed to find it on YouTube - others will too, if they are looking for it. And every YouTube clip has a link to the composer's website with more music and performance dates. There are also web magazines devoted to new music.

People who are interested know where to find it.

I am not interested in the "health" of classical music in general; I'm not even interested in the health of new music. These composers know what they're up against, and they promote their music as best they can. Some break through, most don't. But that is true for all musicians.

I support them, and others support them as well - those that are interested.
Ok. But don't you think contemporary "classical" music would flourish more if it received more support, support that it can receive just by having a wider audience? That's important. How can you not be interested in the health of something you care about?
 

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The problem with that as I have read many times in academia, is that misguided interpretations of history often results. Bizarre and outlandish statements have been thrown about to their discredit. One classic example is with the so-called "new musicology", heavily influenced by sexual queer theory, feminism, critical theory and the like, with so called academics like Susan McClary's (infamous) theory on Beethoven and rape. She wrote (now hold your chairs tightly when you read this): "The point of recapitulation in the first movement of the Ninth is one of the most horrifying moments in music, as the carefully prepared cadence is frustrated, damming up energy which finally explodes in the throttling murderous rage of a rapist incapable of attaining release." It really is a case of academics playing with theory, words and not breathing enough fresh air out from the real world.
She's right actually. Mozart too. Listen to the Turkish March. It is the sound of a psycho marching happily to the house of his victim. Don't you hear it?? :lol: I don't want to know her interpretation of Don Giovanni. How can these people graduate at Harvard?? Who gave them a degree?
 

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So, agree with 'your' sociopolitical analysis or one you happen to agree with, otherwise you're ignorant. Got it.
I'd add socio-political analysis is a thing and we can all agree it is useful, in opera there are class clashes. But completely invented narration to support precise ideas and sell more books is another thing.
 
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