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Amid all the fretting about classical music's future, some worries about its past
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Day after day, someone somewhere discusses the state of classical music, typically with a degree of concern about its long-term survivability. This has been going on for ages, of course, but it has generated something of a cottage industry in recent years.

Trepidation about the years ahead is especially prevalent and understandable right now, thanks to such things as the testy contract negotiations going on at the Metropolitan Opera and the recent labor/management battles at the Minnesota Orchestra.

This week came news that the Sacramento Philharmonic and Sacramento Opera cannot afford to have a fall season; a spring season is no sure thing for them, either. Closer to home, Baltimore Lyric Opera has cut back to one production for the coming season, all the budget will allow.

This sort of news is very troubling, to be sure. Still, for all of the dire omens about the future of classical music, I find myself more worried about its past, which seems to be in much greater danger.

I don't mean that Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Verdi, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Puccini, Mahler, Strauss and the rest of the gang are going to decompose their way right out of earshot. The monumental cornerstones of classical music will always stand, capable of sustaining the genre for many a generation to come. New composers will continue to emerge, adding to the repertoire. Music students will continue to turn into professionals.   

7:16 a.m. EDTAugust 6, 2014

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