Tom Service asks what the future holds for classical music and whether the genre needs to change. He looks at the Victorian predictions of William Sterndale Bennett which provide a fascinating account of the hopes and fears of the Victorian musical world.
He is also joined by John Williams and John Etheridge to talk about their unique collaboration combining two of the greatest names in classical and jazz guitar.
In this programme
John Etheridge and John Williams
Two living legends of the guitar playing world, John Williams and John Etheridge are currently fusing their distinct classical and jazz styles in a collaboration which covers repertoire ranging from Bach to African folk music. Tom visited the two guitarists in rehearsal at Williams' home and asked them about what inspired them to work together and how the techniques and styles of classical and jazz guitar playing have been woven together in this unique duo.
Their new album, Places Between, is available on the Sony Classical label, and their UK tour runs from 9th March to 2nd July.
Lectures on Musical Life - William Sterndale Bennett
The English pianist and composer, William Sterndale Bennett (1816-75), was also a consistent critic of the progress of a musical nation. In a series of lectures he gave between 1858 and 1871, he expounded his views on the state of classical music in Victorian Britain. He was largely optimistic that the UK would be a great musical power, but criticised the government about funding and resources. The twelve lectures he delivered have been brought together by editor Nicholas Temperley, who explains Sterndale Bennett's views and the ways in which they relate to the musical issues of today.
Lectures on Musical Life - William Sterndale Bennett, ed. Nicholas Temperley. Pub. Boydell and Brewer. Hb. £45
The Future of Classical Music
The ongoing debate about the future of classical music has been championed in America by composer and writer Greg Sandow. His blog on the subject suggests that classical music as we know it is over, and he is writing a book to back up his gloomy thesis. However, Sandow also has a vision of how things could and should be different. Tom questions Sandow's theories and puts them in the context of what's happening in the UK with thoughts from the Managing Director of the Association of British Orchestras, Russell Jones, as well as the experiences of children in an East London primary school who are currently involved in a project on Verdi's Il Trovatore.
To find out more about Greg Sandow's views on the future of classical music, visit his website, gregsandow.com.