If you surveyed the concert programs of orchestras, opera companies, and chamber music ensembles across the country, then sorted the statistics, you would think that the center of gravity in classical music was slowly rotating through Central Europewith occasional vacations to France, Italy, and Russiaas it did from the early 18th to early 20th centuries.
“Twenty-two stops to the city,” chants Garland Jeffreys in “Coney Island Winter.” Twenty-two stops. If you are reading this you may recognize the feeling this song evokesI remember it myselfyou’re living double-digits deep down a subway line to afford the rent while the flame of Manhattan burns in the distance.
There should be a plaque in front of the old Illinois State Capitol in Springfield that reads: Give me your scorned, your confused, your sad young men. More likely wed get a memorial at the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford: I Want You to Want Me.
Classical music in the 20th century could be said to have been about tearing apart its past. Long before rock started breaking its own rules, composers of orchestral and chamber music were disposing of such conventions as key, assigned tempo, and even the notion of playing parts together and in sequence.
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s free Concerts in the Parks, a sometime summer feature of city life, has returned for its 47th season to appreciative applause and literal éclat.
Someone recently asked me what I did for a living. The proper answer would have been Breathe or Live. Instead I told him to ask Jim Feast while I went to the toilet.