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Composing Capital: Classical Music in the Neoliberal Era

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The familiar old world of classical music, with its wealthy donors and ornate concert halls, is changing. The patronage of a wealthy few is now being replaced by that of corporations, leading to new unions of classical music and contemporary capitalism. In Composing Capital, Marianna Ritchey lays bare the appropriation of classical music by the current neoliberal regime. A The familiar old world of classical music, with its wealthy donors and ornate concert halls, is changing. The patronage of a wealthy few is now being replaced by that of corporations, leading to new unions of classical music and contemporary capitalism. In Composing Capital, Marianna Ritchey lays bare the appropriation of classical music by the current neoliberal regime. Artists, critics, and institutions have aligned themselves—and, by extension, classical music itself—with free-market ideology. More specifically, Ritchey is interested in how classical music has lent its cachet to marketing schemes, sponsored performances for tech firns, and global corporate partnerships. As Ritchey shows, the neoliberalization of classical music has put music at the service of contemporary capitalism, blurring the line between creativity and entrepreneurship, and challenging us to imagine how a non-commodified musical practice might be possible in today’s world.


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The familiar old world of classical music, with its wealthy donors and ornate concert halls, is changing. The patronage of a wealthy few is now being replaced by that of corporations, leading to new unions of classical music and contemporary capitalism. In Composing Capital, Marianna Ritchey lays bare the appropriation of classical music by the current neoliberal regime. A The familiar old world of classical music, with its wealthy donors and ornate concert halls, is changing. The patronage of a wealthy few is now being replaced by that of corporations, leading to new unions of classical music and contemporary capitalism. In Composing Capital, Marianna Ritchey lays bare the appropriation of classical music by the current neoliberal regime. Artists, critics, and institutions have aligned themselves—and, by extension, classical music itself—with free-market ideology. More specifically, Ritchey is interested in how classical music has lent its cachet to marketing schemes, sponsored performances for tech firns, and global corporate partnerships. As Ritchey shows, the neoliberalization of classical music has put music at the service of contemporary capitalism, blurring the line between creativity and entrepreneurship, and challenging us to imagine how a non-commodified musical practice might be possible in today’s world.

52 review for Composing Capital: Classical Music in the Neoliberal Era

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    You really don't need a review to tell you if you're going to enjoy this book, which is a well-written socialist polemic about the way that contemporary classical music interacts with neoliberal capitalism. If that description interests you, then pick up this book. Ritchey dissects complex theoretical topics from other writers and presents them in an easily digestible way. The only real reason I didn't give it five stars: the book is rigidly ideological to the point of being occasionally tiresom You really don't need a review to tell you if you're going to enjoy this book, which is a well-written socialist polemic about the way that contemporary classical music interacts with neoliberal capitalism. If that description interests you, then pick up this book. Ritchey dissects complex theoretical topics from other writers and presents them in an easily digestible way. The only real reason I didn't give it five stars: the book is rigidly ideological to the point of being occasionally tiresome. Also, there are a couple of distracting errors that shouldn't have made it past an editor (Nancy Pelosi is a member of the House of Representatives, not the Senate, for instance). Still, if you're interested in a genuine left perspective on the current state of classical music, you'd be hard-pressed to find better than this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    emily

    I only found it impossible to give it a 5-star rating because of my own ignorance. If I had in me more understanding/knowledge about the studies of music/musical compositions, I would 100% enjoyed this a whole lot more. Definitely a book I'll keep around for a second, or even third reading. "In the realm of indie classical music production, this ambivalence toward specialization and expertise manifests not only in criticisms of the academy but also in the embrace of stylistic eclecticism... Jude I only found it impossible to give it a 5-star rating because of my own ignorance. If I had in me more understanding/knowledge about the studies of music/musical compositions, I would 100% enjoyed this a whole lot more. Definitely a book I'll keep around for a second, or even third reading. "In the realm of indie classical music production, this ambivalence toward specialization and expertise manifests not only in criticisms of the academy but also in the embrace of stylistic eclecticism... Jude Greenstein calls the music of his community "post-historical in its openness to all styles," for example, and the arts press routinely describes indie classical composers as "boundary-breaking" and even as "post-genre". A Pitchfork review of Nico Muhly is characteristic in its mélange of generic adjectives as well as its anti-intellectual dig at academic specialists : "His minimal, Neo-Romantic style has a balance of graceful form and emotional generosity that resonates with listeners who are more interested in personal statements than musicology. And his free-handed use of electronics, drones, and fluttering pulses blurs his classicism into accessible shades of post-rock." The supposed diffusion of musical styles in indie classical music is felt to appeal to listeners with no special musical training, unlike the rigorously specialized music of the modernist tradition." The chapters I'd love and found most fascinating in the book were Chapter 3 : Opera and/as Gentrification, and Chapter 2 : "Indie" Individualism - where Richey discussed contemporary composers - indie classical artists - struggling against heirachized ensembles. Lots of references to Nico Muhly which I did not mind; instead I later found myself streaming his work for hours as a result. "The indie classical scene provides a case study for observing how cultural assumptions about art - and about the figure of the artist - are changing in the contemporary United States, as well as how artists can be used to exemplify the virtues of neoliberal individualism for the rest of us. These artists have bene trained to think and act individually rather than collectively, which on its surface seems in keeping with the older nineteenth-century model of artistry, because the stereotypical Romantic individualism was meant to dramatize the artist's difference from others and isolation from (and critique of) society, commentators confusingly present today's radical individualism as being good for society as a whole. In contemporary US discourse, artistic individualism has been reconfigured as flexible, competitive entrepreneurialism, and repositioned as an ideal toward which every citizen should strive." At the end of Chapter 2, Richey highlights the struggles of the 'artist'/composer/musician in today's economy/political climate. To create the kind of art that conforms to traditional standards to please the rich so you too can be rich (or to put it more bluntly - so you don't die) - or to make 'art for art's sake'. On the other hand, at the start of Chapter 3, Richey touches on 'participatory art' - which challenges the meaning of what art is - and the relationship between the artist, the audience and the environment. And as a completely shameless fan of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag: Scriptures, I got really excited when he expanded his argument about how operas 'break the fourth wall (associated with Bertolt Brecht's "epic theatre")'. "Artist, like all citizens, must find ways of supporting themselves within the framework of their society, and attaching artistic claims to corporate values is currently one way of achieving success. I would suggest, however, that artists - again, like all citizens - have a responsibility to confront the role they sometime play in gentrification and other neoliberalization processes. Art can indeed be a weapon - the Boyle Heights protesters certainly experienced Hopscotch as an existential as well as physical threat - and I would submit that part of practicing thoughtful citizenship under neoliberalism entails acknowledging this fact, as well as clearly identifying such a weapon ought (and ought not) to be aimed toward." Richey's book covered more than I had expected it would about both Neoliberalism and Classical Music in a modern/contemporary viewpoint. A very well-researched and well written work, and as I've already mentioned - this is a book that I will certainly come back to again later.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mike Zavorskas

    Great introduction to ideas about surviving in a neoliberal economy. Ends on an optimistic note, with a great chapter about anti-capitalist musicking practices.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Cox

    Chapter 1 Innovating Classical Music I just finished Chapter 1 of this book and it's intense. This first chapter is genius in the way that it brilliantly lays out the relationship between corporations, technology, "innovation", neoliberalism, and contemporary classical music. I am excited to read the rest. Chapter 2 "Indie" Individualism Chapter 3 Opera and/as Gentrification Chapter 4 Intel Beethoven: The New Spirit of Classical Music Conclusion Music against Capitalism I'm trying to gather my thought Chapter 1 Innovating Classical Music I just finished Chapter 1 of this book and it's intense. This first chapter is genius in the way that it brilliantly lays out the relationship between corporations, technology, "innovation", neoliberalism, and contemporary classical music. I am excited to read the rest. Chapter 2 "Indie" Individualism Chapter 3 Opera and/as Gentrification Chapter 4 Intel Beethoven: The New Spirit of Classical Music Conclusion Music against Capitalism I'm trying to gather my thoughts on this book before I'm even finished with the conclusion because I feel overwhelmed by how much there is to digest. Seriously this book made me feel like my head was exploding. It has made my "career skills" classes at school even more unbearable - I am now able to recognize buzzwords like "innovation" and "entrepreneurship" as the neoliberal brainwashing that they are. After reading this book, I feel like I have a much richer understanding of the history of capitalism and neoliberal ideology. The author did an excellent job of critically interrogating specific examples of neoliberalism in classical music, but I do wish that there was a little more connection between the chapters. I also was a little let down by the conclusion. I just didn't find it that compelling, but maybe that's more of a reflection on the current state of classical music.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

  6. 5 out of 5

    Katie Caton

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell Howard

  8. 5 out of 5

    DKA

  9. 5 out of 5

    Xavier University Library

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bethany Younge

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jason Voss

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sicen

  13. 4 out of 5

    Raghu Krishnan

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    Morgan Bennett

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    Daniel Fine

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    Angela

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    Reid

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    Thomas Feng

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    Mitch Tam

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    richard valitutto

  21. 5 out of 5

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    K

  29. 5 out of 5

    musicologyduck

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gary Noland

  31. 5 out of 5

    Reb

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    Lisa Vest

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    Michael

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    Carla Blackwood

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    David

  50. 4 out of 5

    Cana McGhee

  51. 4 out of 5

    Annie Chen

  52. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

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