Perhaps you’ve thought about this: Bach and Mozart died over two hundred years ago – – Is there anybody alive today whose music will be played two hundred years from now? It’s a tricky question.
There are contemporary composers whose music I like and admire, but I certainly wouldn’t bet my life on predicting their immortality. When it comes to the great composers of the past, we’re lucky: history has done the winnowing for us. You may be able to quickly tick off your fifteen favorite composers from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras… but over the span of those eras there were literally hundreds of people writing music, and most of those people have been completely forgotten. Many of them were very accomplished. They were undoubtedly highly respected and admired, and they enriched the lives of their contemporaries. But I’m afraid history doesn’t reward the near-great. And as for today’s composers? Well I hate to say it, but I don’t think many of us will be around to see who makes the cut.
This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.