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Students Need To Be Better Prepared If Classical Music Is To Remain An Important Part Of American Culture

Submitted by on September 6, 2014 – 12:01 pmNo Comment

Austin, TX, September 5, 2014 – As the former director of three of our nation’s leading professional music schools, Robert Freeman has devoted his life to the study and teaching of classical music. In this capacity, his concern continues to increase over the fact that each year, as our country produces more than 30,000 collegiate music degrees, the professional market for musicians keeps shrinking!

In his soon-to-be-released book, The Crisis of Classical Music in America: Lessons from a Life in the Education of Musicians (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing), the author shares his concern that this field produces too many musicians ill-equipped with communication skills in reading, writing, speaking and the evolving technologies – which leaves music graduates at a disadvantage. While Freeman believes our young people perform with professional skills far superior to any in the history of music, they are graduating without the vital skills necessary to keep the nation’s orchestras and opera houses alive.

A sluggish recovery from the economic collapse of 2008 hasn’t helped. The Philadelphia Orchestra was in and out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy three years ago, the Minnesota Orchestra was locked out for 16 months, the Detroit Symphony lost a season to a damaging strike, salaries of the Atlanta Symphony were reduced by 20%, the New York Times reports serious problems in the Metropolitan Opera’s ongoing negotiations with its 15 unions, while the New York City Center Opera House simply closed its doors!

The Crisis of Classical Music in America was written to appeal to parents, music students, music professors, deans, provosts and the heads of relevant foundations. It imagines a whole new musical ‘ecosystem’ in which musical education and the world of professional music-making are better aligned and the supply of first class musicians is kept better in check while the numbers of Americans who flock to live performances is greatly stimulated.

“We need a more sensible world of music – something similar to the model already supplied for us by major league sports, where the training of shortstops and middle line backers is matched by the development of a fan base that supports the enterprise,” says Freeman. “With these changes future singers, composers, conductors, instrumentalists and scholars will more easily navigate tomorrow’s music scene.”

About the Author

Robert Freeman is many things:  a Harvard graduate summa cum laude, a music historian with a Princeton PhD, a Steinway artist, and a seasoned professor and administrative leader. After serving as a junior faculty member at Princeton and MIT, he led the Eastman School of Music (University of Rochester) during the period 1972-96, presided over the New England Conservatory from 1996 to 1999, and served as dean of the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Fine Arts during the period 1999-2006. He is now Susan Menefee Ragan Regents Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin.


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