I just received an email from The New Republic. It begins with “Hey”.

Now I say “hey” a lot. I greet my kids and students with a “hey” now and then. I don’t mind if people I know greet me that way either. But when someone who doesn’t have a clue who I am greets me with “hey” I’m put off. Go figure. Then the email continues to … well … it pushes my buttons I guess.
Here’s what I received:


I think you and your readers at oboe insight will like this piece we just published, by Richard Taruskin: It’s a provocative argument that the dire situation in which classical music finds itself is being made even more dire by the sentimentality and unreality of some of the music’s most ardent defenders. Here’s a link: http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=f3839c75-3724-4154-adc4-e0638e30448a

Barron YoungSmith
The New Republic

Am I silly to be bugged? Oh probably. But, you know … well … my iron is low. I’m very sensitive these days! 😉

I haven’t read the article yet, and I’ve never read The New Republic (for some reason the name even bugs me!). But that email just rubbed me the wrong way.

And yes, I’ve done exactly what they wanted by giving them this publicity. Even negative publicity is publicity, right? See how nice I am? (Yeah, that’s it. That’s the extent of my niceness.)

I guess I have to go read the article now, even though I’m bugged. Just watch, I’ll probably love it.

Oh … and “dire situation” … how much longer must we hear this?

PS Go ahead and email me with a “hey”. Really. Now that I’ve said it bugs me it probably won’t any more. I’m weird that way.

Due to dinner, a ball game, a symphony rehearsal in an hour, and a muddled mind, I don’t have time or energy to read the article right now, but I did have time to skim. I really liked one of the final paragraphs, pasted below, so I suspect I will also enjoy the rest of the article. So … well … “hey” … 😉

As a team of Texas researchers have recently announced, there are exactly 237 known reasons why people have sex. There are at least as many reasons why they listen to classical music, of which to sit in solemn silence on a dull dark dock is only one. There will always be social reasons as well as purely aesthetic ones, and thank God for that. There will always be people who make money from it–and why not?–as well as those who starve for the love of it. Classical music is not dying; it is changing. (My favorite example right now is Gabriel Prokofiev, the British-born grandson of the Russian composer, who studied electronic music in school, has headed a successful disco-punk band, and is now writing string quartets.) Change can be opposed, and it can be slowed down, but it cannot be stopped. All three of our authors seem reluctant to acknowledge this ineluctable fact. But change is not always loss, and realizing this should not threaten but console.



  1. Not that you need a non-oboe playing reader but I found your site because I am looking for responses to The New Republic article.

    I enjoyed the article quite a bit especially when the author ramps up the histrionics..my particular favorite:

    “Julian Johnson’s tract suppurates with attitudes like these. To cast aesthetic preferences as moral choices at the dawn of the twenty-first century is an obscenity. Both the book itself and its reception (as recorded on Amazon.com) expose the sort of pleasure it promotes: that of solidarity in sanctimony. To all who have read it with enjoyment I urgently prescribe a reading of Father Sergius, Tolstoy’s parable of moral exhibitionism and its comeuppance. I will pray for the salvation of their souls.”


    The most recent issue of the New Yorker has an article about how well classical music is doing on the web. Fun to read after reading this article.

  2. Non-oboe playing readers are always welcome! Thanks for joining in on this conversation!

    The article IS good, isn’t it? I guess I need to hold my over-reactive tongue regarding the “Hey”. I can live with a “Hey” when it results in a good article! 😉

    The online New Yorker article even had a link to my website! (Thank you, Alex Ross!) And yes, it was a fun article.

    I’m weary of doomsayers. It all reminds me of the people who talk about “the good old days” and everything was so much better in the past. People have been saying that forever too. It gets boring! 🙂