Cataloguing the classical music industry
This article is from 2008.
Journalist, writer and broadcaster Norman Lebrecht is a long familiar name in classical music criticism. Known to be controversial, what he says is not always to everyone’s liking, but his knowledge of the classical recording industry is undoubtedly encyclopaedic. Perhaps it’s because he knows so much about what is a complex business, to say the least, that it is hard for the reader of Maestros, Masterpieces and Madness to keep track (no pun intended) of who did what to whom, why, when and where they did it.
Subtitled The Secret Life and Shameful Death of the Classical Record Industry, Lebrecht takes the reader back to the period just after World War I, a time when artists and conductors were struck by the growing realisation that recording could immortalise their work forever and be taken into the living rooms of people up and down the country. Legendary names such as von Karajan, Fürtwangler and Toscanini are but three who feature in the complicated web of storytelling that is the ‘Maestros’ section.
Much more fun is ‘Madness’, Lebrecht’s own selection of 20 recordings that should never have been made. It’s a witty, entertaining section and reveals such unlikely happenings as German rock band The Scorpions collaborating with the Berlin Philharmonic in music singing the praises of oral sex.
Masterpieces’ (or ‘100 milestones of the recording industry’) is both useful and informative, especially in the way it relates Lebrecht’s individual choices directly to their place in the industry itself.
12 Aug, 3.30pm, £9 (£7).