Friday, May 8th, 2009
Jeremiah, our guest writer, is a retired international business executive and classical music devotee. Like those who face losing their favorite newspaper or magazine, television or radio program, he is bracing himself for a blow–the silencing of a longtime radio friend and access to the music he loves.
Last night I heard a remarkable performance of Gustav Mahler’s First Symphony at Carnegie Hall, which got me to thinking about how quickly the music I love and so deeply enjoy is vanishing. The number of traditional concerts given there has declined each year the past few years as the audience for them has been literally dieing off. The average age of those in the Hall last night must have been at least sixty.
Worse yet is the sad news that we New Yorkers are about to lose the oldest classical music station in the country, WQXR. According to rumors in the marketplace, its parent company, The New York Times, has had the station up for sale for several years to raise cash, and there was a story published in the New York Post a week or so ago that it is possibly being sold to the sports network, ESPN.
I have been listening to WQXR since 1945, daily in recent years, and most days all day. It has been a close friend and a better one than many. I am already grieving and will grieve still more when the station is actually gone. My first reaction was to rant and rage about the “Decline and Fall of Western Civilization.” My second has been to listen to WQXR as much as possible while it is still possible.
Friends have suggested that I should listen to public radio, but I don’t care for its patronizing political correctness. Furthermore, I feel strongly that the government should not be in the entertainment business. No more should it give tax breaks or subsidies to music makers than to baseball teams! This smacks of “Bread and Circuses.”
However, there is a counter argument. In our culture, responsibility for the old and infirm for many valid reasons has now shifted from their families to the state.
The common sense thing to do would be to let nature take its course, force classical music lovers to accept change as being a natural progression and adapt to liking what I call noise. But maybe we should keep some classical music around to enhance the declining years of the older people who love it.