It seems like every month another young composer shoots out of grad school and starts blogging, brimful of enthusiasm for the musics of Ligeti, Carter, Xenakis, Berio, Boulez.If this is really the case, then the critic/professor owes us a few URLs as evidence. My own perusals of blogs by younger composers have shown a real diversity of enthusiasms, from Howard Hanson to HipHop. I have yet to acertain anything approaching a critical mass of passion for the late 20th century modernists.
Even if such a passion were on broad display, what would be the real complaint? Does our critic-cum-professor really see a threat to his own musical culture from these fogies? No matter how you analyze the numbers, all we're talking about are small musical cultures, and all of them survive in delicate musical biotopes, under the most precarious of conditions. The real threat is that made to musical diversity by a mass, commercial music monoculture. This monoculture is as inhospitable to Elliot Carter as it is to Ellen Fullman, and it strikes me as urgent that before we start playing our little biotopes off against one another, we had damn well better make sure that everything has been done to insure the survival of the greatest amount of musical diversity.
Most music won't survive, and honestly I don't believe that every music should survive. The quality in music that I've come to call renewable seems to be a rare one, but without creating the circumstances where real musical variety can thrive, our judgments about musical quality are seriously limited and provisional.