Letter to the Editor: Putting a Star on the Stage
RE: Steve Metcalf on Putting People In Seats
Some thoughts on the subject.
Times change and kids don’t waltz or minuet much anymore, so some of the social necessity of classical music is no longer there. For example: Seventeen Magazine dropped its regular classical music coverage in 1957. It used to list “must have” string quartets, etc.
Anyway, the point I would like to make is about the “star” composer and why he or she ain’t around no more. One could argue that this discussion of classical music concerns the United States only, as France has its star composer—Boulez—and other countries have a very different view of what we are calling “classical music”.
Stravinsky was perhaps the last big international star composer. Yet his “star” as a social icon encompassed not just his compositions but was based on his wonderful writings and observations on the music scene, as well as his public persona as a conductor/performer. Stravinsky had genius, charm, and wit and could express it. Ned Rorem excepted, I don’t know any successful composers who have revealed themselves capable of filling those literary shoes.
Most of what passes for composition writing these days is simply self-promotion, and people see right through it.
Of course if you’re a star, you don’t need self promotion!