Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Can the Internet Save Classical Music?

After my previous post about the BBC and Beethoven, I came across an interesting article about the way in which Beethoven fans have been using the Internet. Two amateur music lovers have set about to create a website dedicated to just about every note written by Beethoven:

"With painstaking care, they're systematically turning Beethoven's most illegible scrawls into digital scores that can be downloaded and played by any computer, with the ultimate goal of bringing to life virtually every note the composer put to paper."

Along the way, the article makes some good points that touch upon much broader issues.

Perhaps it's a quixotic dream in the era of Britney Spears and Eminem. But Zimmer and Holsbergen are part of a growing community of amateurs and semiprofessionals who are using the Net and other digital tools to bring classical music out of concert halls and academies, hoping to popularize it with the democratizing force of the Internet.

The evidence may not be visible yet in classical music sales, which, at about 3 percent of the market, are a sliver of pop music sales. Yet the energy is palpable, on interlocking blogs from ordinary music fans and from the New Yorker magazine's music critic, in the classical stations programmed by home disc jockeys on services such as Live365, and in the eager amateur criticism accompanying this spring's Webcast of the Van Cliburn piano competitions.

Read the rest of this fine article here.

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