Exposed Fifths
classical music blog
June 14, 2006
Warner Classics Closes
Norman Lebrecht is at his best when he's analysing facts and things rather than people and personalities. His sharp mind is eminently suited to following the threads and implications rather than the vagaries and ambiguities of human beings. That's why his "Who Killed Classical Music" which followed the money trail of re-released CD's and Superstar Performers was so much more convincing than his "Maestro Myth", which was just a series of unrelated Conductor bios, full of innuendo and gossip, but adding nothing constructive.

And so we turn to Lebrecht's latest essay, which is his dissection of the news that Warner Classics has been shut down by its parent company, AOL Time Warner Inc, the largest media conglomerate the world has ever seen. For those not familiar with the label, Warner Classics included under its broad umbrella the french operation Erato, the german Teldec, and Apex, a UK budget line. These served as the distribution points for their stable of ground-breaking artists, which included the blistering Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the exciting Endelion String Quartet, and eccentric finnish conductor Sakari Oramo. All can now eat cake.

Lebrecht points out that Warner Classics has been generating profits for 5 years running, no mean feat in a world of orchestral blowouts and arts funding fiascos. Why shut it down then? Lebrecht attributes this to an engrained hatred of the arts at the corporate level. As Guthry has mentioned, its not just money, some of the greatest philanthropists have been the greatest robber-barons, it's more a sense of the stockmarket, and gains that can be made with no effort, and no risk. Totally forgetting, of course, that Innovation is the means that offers the greatest possible market extension and profit generation. As well as satisfying the higher mind and being noble.

That's my personal rant for the day, you read more outrage from Lebrecht here.