Friday, December 14, 2007
Part of the recent good news in classical music has been the growth in endowments for US music schools, allowing for new construction and, in at least one case, for significant reductions if not eliminations of student fees. These developments are to be greeted, but also to be put into perspective: often, the best material conditions for musicians in the US will be those found in student environments, while conditions for professional music-making are often seriously underdeveloped. I want to have great facilities for music everywhere, but do find it strange that in many communities the best facilities are within educational institutions, which tend to be isolated on campuses and restricted to in-house use. There are even junior colleges in the States with better concert halls or theatres than those located in the closest big cities. In Germany, the situation is reversed, in that educational institutions are seriously under-supported, lacking the concert halls, practice and rehearsal spaces common in US schools. (A professorship here -- a title with great social prestige actually becoming a permanent part of ones legal name -- does not even guarantee that that the holder gets an office or studio.) The topic of capital investment for music is one that deserves some deeper thought, but a bit more balance in the distribution of resources would seem wise.