Letter to an audience member
Ye, I don’t really hate anybody. What I really dislike is what the avantgarde created. I do blame Boulez and his blind followers for wanting to have a clean slate with the past, not considering that without it they would not have been there. Luckily that did not happen: you still do listen to Mozart and Puccini.
However, the other effect of that attitude was to open, voluntarily or not, a gap between new composers and audiences: if you go to a concert and do not understand the sense of having someone banging on a refrigerator door on stage, chances you won’t come back are fairly high. If on top of that, they tell you that the reason you don’t understand is because you’re ignorant, then the chances you’ll turn to something else are close to 100%. Who could blame you for it?
Behind these excuses, composers of all sort, good and bad, have hidden a lot of “music” that the world could have lived without. If you need to read a volume of the British encyclopedia before a concert, something is wrong with the music, not with you.
You, as an audience member, should be feeling as comfortable at a classical concert as you are at the movie theater. You wouldn’t feel intimidated by going to watch, let’s say, Starwars, right? You go, and in the end, you either like it or not. Same goes with music: you’re not supposed to understand or have deep knowledge of it, you’re supposed to feel it and enjoy it. Of course, the more you know, the better: but if not knowing prevents you from enjoying, then please do blame the composer, not yourself.
Boulez died a couple of years ago: I never liked his music, but I recognize he was a brilliant man and tried for his entire life, staying true to himself, to promote contemporary music. That’s something that most Artistic Directors of today chicken out from, usually because they don’t have enough gumption. I wish there was still a Boulez in this respect. Then you would be able to enjoy (or not) more contemporary music, get used to it and not fear it anymore. Who knows, you might even fall in love with some of it!
You, on your end, can be proactive as well: you pay for a ticket to a show, if you didn’t like it, say it; if you did like it, say it too. Why should you always endure other people’s decision without making suggestions? Don’t be shy or, worse, lazy.
Be bold, and let us, the artists on the other side, know what you think. There should be no other side after all!