This Classical Music article was written by Samantha Melrose, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson.
Classical music has created the foundations of the majority of the music we hear today. Pieces that were written over 300 years ago have stood the test of time and are still entirely relevant in the modern world. Modern classical composers can only hope to create masterpieces that live far beyond their time. From Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ to Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, this umbrella term (not to be confused with the Classical period) encompasses a multitude of greats. Classics such as Debussy’s ‘Clair de Lune’, Beethoven’s ‘Symphony No. 5’ and ‘Moonlight Sonata’, Holst’s ‘The Planets’, Mozart’s ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’, Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D Major’ barely scrape the surface of the classical music world and are all engrained in us, although I’m sure most of us are not sure how or where from.
Beyond these eternal influential pieces, classical music is continuously evolving. Contemporary classical music record labels such as FatCat, Bedroom Community, New Amsterdam Records and Cantaloupe Music to name a few have huge influence over the musical landscape we are exposed to. There are a wealth of modern classical composers, who have taken the genre in a new directions respectively. But how good is classical music nowadays?
Composers such as Philip Glass continue to create music that will no doubt be recorded as some of the most significant music to have been written in modern history, with works such as ‘Glassworks’ and his minimalist opera ‘Einstein On the Beach’. Glass is a highly controversial artist who takes great pride in creating works of phenomenal difference and singularity. This has no doubt meant he has earned his place in the history books as one of THE most prominent composers of the 21st century.
John Adams has become somewhat of a household name known to many for his works such as ‘Short Ride in a Fast Machine’ and his distinctive minimalist operatic and symphonic writing. Possibly most distinctively Adams writes with a strong emphasis on nature and surroundings.
More mainstream classical composers such as Einaudi have composed their way into many people’s day to day lives creating music of a somewhat ‘pop-classical’ genre using his characteristic repetitive motifs and conventional chord progressions to appeal to a wider audience. Einaudi bridges the the gap between old school classical music and modern pop tunes. His current world tour has sold out in many cities, after the release of his most recent album ‘Elements’. His music has featured in films such as Black Swan and his track ‘I Giorni’ was backed by Greg James and played on Radio 1.
Grammy award winning Facebook fanatic, American composer, conductor and speaker Eric Whitacre is best known as a modern chorus guru however he also composes orchestral and wind ensemble music. Noted for his characteristic pandiatonic clusters without conventional resolutions or standard chord progressions, modern choruses are embracing his unique take on choral works as opposed to stick entirely with traditional works by composers such as Palestrina (c.16th century) and Tallis (c.16th century). Along with Einaudi, Whitacre is also a high scorer in the classical charts.
Steve Reich is additionally incredibly well established, supported by both popular and classical musicians alike. He is best known for his use of phasing where two instruments playing the same line eventually fall out of sync with each other creating unique and somewhat hypnotic rhythmic patterns.
Not only is classical music continuing to develop as a self sufficient genre, many artists are collaborating with masterminds to bring another dimension to their music. Classical music combined with other popular genres such as rock, pop, electro to name a few is not a particularly new trend, however it appears to have grown increasingly popular.
There’s something about classical music that oozes greatness. That spark that means compositions from greats both past and present will live on and continue to evolve and remain relevant for a long time to come yet.