Alfred Wallenstein (1898-1983), in the New York Times, 1950.
Readers of this blog in its early days may recall a steady stream of posts on the topic of the "non-death of classical music." In my 2004 piece "Listen to This," I noted that the art form has been on a farewell tour for several hundred years, and quoted Charles Rosen's immortal aphorism, "The death of classical music is perhaps its oldest continuing tradition." Three years later, I illustrated the point by stringing together various prophecies of classical doom. Eventually, I reached the conclusion that "all stories about this non-topic — including those protesting that classical music isn't dead after all, as well as those protesting that the entire discussion is a waste of time — are a waste of time." But I can't resist linking to Jon Silpayamanant's Annotated Bibliographic Timeline of "Orchestra Crisis." It's a much more thorough version of the anthology I attempted in 2007. Particularly noteworthy is this Richard Aldrich quotation from 1923: "Everywhere the mounting costs of orchestral performances are becoming a matter of concern." Die alte Weise! Silpayamanant's posts about the supposed ageing of the classical audience are also worth a look. There are real problems in the orchestra world, but the lack of a sense of history and perspective can be exasperating. We should be particularly wary of talk of a crisis when it is emanating from flailing leaders who wish to distract attention from their mistakes.