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When did Classical music peak?

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I would choose a period from c.1920-1935. Anything seemed possible - zeitoper and the incorporation of jazz/popular dance rhythms, 'machine' music, Les Six puckishness, neoclassicsm, serialism etc. - but enough of the old guard were still around to keep the Romantic flame burning. Some of the more iconoclastic composers wanted the blow the past away but as a mere listener I just treat any new directions that are taken as extra layers to the cake.
 
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It hasn't peaked.

Today, thanks to recording technology more people are probably listening to Beethoven's 5th at home, than could possibly listen to it in a concert hall.

Radio/recording/CD has made classical music more accessible - and a lot of the artists from across the centuries are still with is.

I'm sitting feet from a shelf with more classical music on it, than someone had 100 years ago - with different versions, interpretations and orchestras.
 

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I personally don't believe in such silly things as any genre "peaking." I think all eras of classical music focus on certain things that appeal to certain people. People with broad tastes like myself, who don't feel the need to rank one set of standards against another, but rather just love them for what they can do and what their potential is (especially in the hands of the great composers), are comfortable picking favorites from each era/style and not really trying to rank them against them. However, if forced to pick, I guess since Mozart was my favorite composer I'd go with the era of his mature works.
 

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I would choose a period from c.1920-1935. Anything seemed possible - zeitoper and the incorporation of jazz/popular dance rhythms, 'machine' music, Les Six puckishness, neoclassicsm, serialism etc. - but enough of the old guard were still around to keep the Romantic flame burning. Some of the more iconoclastic composers wanted the blow the past away but as a mere listener I just treat any new directions that are taken as extra layers to the cake.
I was going to add something more or less exactly along these lines. This was a time when musical diversity probably reached its height -- although some late romantics like Schmidt or Braunfels to name just two, were increasingly already regarded as somewhat old-fashioned, the music was still played. The 1920's was a period of great experimentation not only in Paris and Berlin but also the Soviet Union and I'm not not sure if any other can really match it. But it was not just diversity, it was also quality -- the last symphonies of Sibelius and Nielsen, the operas of Janacek, the late chamber and piano music of Fauré to give just one or two examples from among my favourites.

To me, it was a great shame that this period was so short, relatively speaking. The arrival of Hitler and Stalin meant that innovation was forced away from their respective countries and of course after the war, nothing was ever the same again. Curiously, if I were allowed just a five year span in both the 19th and 20th centuries, it would likely be the same years -- around 23-28! In the 19th century, we're obviously looking at a high proportion of the greatest works by Beethoven and Schubert.
 

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I was going to add something more or less exactly along these lines. This was a time when musical diversity probably reached its height -- although some late romantics like Schmidt or Braunfels to name just two, were increasingly already regarded as somewhat old-fashioned, the music was still played. The 1920's was a period of great experimentation not only in Paris and Berlin but also the Soviet Union and I'm not not sure if any other can really match it. But it was not just diversity, it was also quality -- the last symphonies of Sibelius and Nielsen, the operas of Janacek, the late chamber and piano music of Fauré to give just one or two examples from among my favourites.

To me, it was a great shame that this period was so short, relatively speaking. The arrival of Hitler and Stalin meant that innovation was forced away from their respective countries and of course after the war, nothing was ever the same again. Curiously, if I were allowed just a five year span in both the 19th and 20th centuries, it would likely be the same years -- around 23-28! In the 19th century, we're obviously looking at a high proportion of the greatest works by Beethoven and Schubert.
To an extent I feel the same way about the late 1960s-early 1970s or so - it seems like there was another furious inflection point where serialism had just about exhausted itself, you had the first major wave of minimalist masterpieces, electronic experiments were starting to graduate beyond the "experiment" phase and well- it's just surprising how much of my favorite modern/post-modern rep comes from that period.
 

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To an extent I feel the same way about the late 1960s-early 1970s or so - it seems like there was another furious inflection point where serialism had just about exhausted itself, you had the first major wave of minimalist masterpieces, electronic experiments were starting to graduate beyond the "experiment" phase and well- it's just surprising how much of my favorite modern/post-modern rep comes from that period.
I agree, although possibly for different reasons. This seems to me the high point of pop/rock music and at the same time, there was a lot of fine music coming from the Soviet Union in particular. There were also maverick composers like Allan Pettersson in Sweden who were at the height of their fame during this period. By the 1990's the musical scene was rapidly declining into a desert from which it has yet to recover - purely in my opinion, obviously.
 

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I already voted once ... but my local orchestra just announced its first concert this weekend since the pandemic ... so classical music hasn't yet peaked for me! I'm glad to have it back.
 

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I personally don't believe in such silly things as any genre "peaking." I think all eras of classical music focus on certain things that appeal to certain people. People with broad tastes like myself, who don't feel the need to rank one set of standards against another, but rather just love them for what they can do and what their potential is (especially in the hands of the great composers), are comfortable picking favorites from each era/style and not really trying to rank them against them.
Thank you for saying what I believe, apart from I can't say 'if I was forced to I would pick...'. I would say, go ahead just shoot me.
 

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Imho we have yet to see any "peak". I'll wager to even say there will never be a peak in Classical Music. The new and upcoming composers, one in particular that is a wonderful friend of mine, are creating new ideas in the world of classical music. That is to say there is nothing wrong with the old ideas, rather the mix, as a whole, is creating a new interest for classical music. There will never be any peak ... we will continue to grow trying to achieve that peak ... the peak that never comes, and that, again imho, is most important when it comes to classical music. We have seen many "peaks" in other genres ... it'll never happen to classical music.
 

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Contemporary music peaked in the 1970s. Up to that point, most of the classical audience didn't really want to hear anything more than 20 years old. After that until now, most only want to hear Beethoven and Brahms.
I would dispute this. In 1970 Mahler was coming into fashion. Most audiences in 1970 wanted Beethoven and Brahms not Stockhausen or Berio and if they wanted Stravinsky it was for Firebird or the Rite of Spring not the late serial works. I would agree that there was in 1970 more awareness then of avante garde music amongst the general classical audience than today.
Also what you say would be true of Rock Music in 1970.
 

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It hasn't peaked.

Today, thanks to recording technology more people are probably listening to Beethoven's 5th at home, than could possibly listen to it in a concert hall.

Radio/recording/CD has made classical music more accessible - and a lot of the artists from across the centuries are still with is.

I'm sitting feet from a shelf with more classical music on it, than someone had 100 years ago - with different versions, interpretations and orchestras.
But a smaller percentage of the public actual listen to any Classical Music than 25 or 50 years ago even though the opportunities to do so with streaming today are almost limitless.
50 years ago programmes about Classical Music appeared on major TV channels. Classical Music was used on lots of TV advertisements. Film music was usually in a Classical Style. Stravinsky was a household name amongst the middle classes in the 1960s: up there with Picasso. Nowadays the average member of the middle class would struggle to name any twentieth century composers let alone a living one.
 

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When did Classical music peak?
IMHO it peaked ~1952 with Shostakovich's 10th, the last great classical symphony. Some might stretch that to .ca 1990, not because of any great new production, but more on the basis of performances and popular interest. Some of our greatest conductors and musicians were from the 2nd half of the 20th.
 

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We live in a world where standards and practices are better than ever before everywhere but ironically in a world when the art form itself has disappeared from public view, in my opinion because there are no longer living composers whose work is so great it creates new fans overnight. Today, if you're not a fan of classical music and don't seek it out, it's not coming to find you. That is a big difference in the world in 2022 compared to the world I knew decades ago.
How very true. I had to go looking for it, even in the early sixties. And the nearest thing to help available to me was WRC, which at least allowed me to buy LPs at a reasonable price—shorthand-typists being so badly paid I never had a male colleague until I took a job as a Mac operator for a newspaper. I managed to collect only about 800 discs, however. The club had a monthly newsletter, but it existed more to sell (obviously!) than to advise what I should buy. Consequently I made some terrible blunders: Bach toccatas and fugues are hardly suitable for a beginner, never mind when played on that clangorous monstrosity Landowska fondly called a harpsichord. Neither is The Musical Offering suitable. I'm surprised I didn't land up hating Bach! My middle sister joined me in my quest and it was surprising how different our tastes landed up. My passion is chamber and solo music and, despite the fact we both started from the same LP (Barbirolli with his Halle Orchestra playing Swan Lake suite on one side and one of the L'Arlésienne suites on the other) my sister stayed with the big orchestral sound of the 19th century while I discovered I'm not all that fond of that century and can't stand the 20th and 21st. After my sister's untimely death at 58 I didn't find one Bach CD among her small collection. I don't know what she had in the way of LPs because her daughter sold them and the buyer had to take everything. I was determined my LPs wouldn't land up at the dump, but I managed to get an average of only 50c each overall, the price for living in a VERY small philistine country. I'd have got a lot more if I could have sold on eBay.

I have to say I feel very sorry for everyone who hasn't discovered Classical music. It was the best present I've ever given myself. Or, rather, the best present my mother gave me because, after all, it was her whim to buy that 10-inch LP. I suspect she was just grabbing every LP she could find in the sales to play on her new (mono) radiogram.

Lately I have been going for renaissance and baroque CDs. At the moment I am acquainting myself with The Great Weiss. Until recently I had only one CD of his music. I find myself wondering over and over how he managed to write so much without any lowering of quality. A member of the Bach family who was serving as Bach's secretary wrote that when Weiss was staying at the Bach home for a few months the house resounded with very special music. I leave him with the last word.
 

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IMHO it peaked ~1952 with Shostakovich's 10th, the last great classical symphony. Some might stretch that to .ca 1990, not because of any great new production, but more on the basis of performances and popular interest. Some of our greatest conductors and musicians were from the 2nd half of the 20th.
Pettersson, Schnittke, and Shostakovich himself composed great synphonies after 1952. Rorem's Symphony no. 3 (1959) is one of the great accessible symphonies.
 

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I would dispute this. In 1970 Mahler was coming into fashion. Most audiences in 1970 wanted Beethoven and Brahms not Stockhausen or Berio and if they wanted Stravinsky it was for Firebird or the Rite of Spring not the late serial works. I would agree that there was in 1970 more awareness then of avante garde music amongst the general classical audience than today.
Also what you say would be true of Rock Music in 1970.
Not so long ago, people went to see a band wanting to hear songs from the new album. And never the same way twice. Now they only want to hear the hits, played note for note the way they are on the album.
 
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