「Copland on Music を読む」最終回の3「板挟みに苦しむオーケストラの各団体」 




Address delivered at the Providence, R.I., convention of the American Symphony Orchestra League in June 1956. 


第3章 板挟みに苦しむオーケストラの各団体 

1956年6月 米国オーケストラ連盟 年次総会(ロードアイランド州プロビデンス)での講演 




SOMETHING IS STRANGELY AMISS in the orchestral world of today. It is natural that we be concerned, for our symphony orchestras are without question the most important and vital musical medium in the country. The symphony orchestra is at the same time the nerve center of any musical community and the composer's favorite medium. Most musical creators have a rather sentimental feeling about symphony orchestra. To a composer, anybody that has anything to do with an orchestra has a certain glamor, all the way from the conductor to the janitor of the auditorium. Since our future as composers is very largely bound up with the symphonic medium, we are naturally deeply concerned with its present situation and future outlook. 



Composers are generally convinced that if the present policies of most orchestras continue as they now exist, then we are all headed for some kind of dead-end. By and large our symphony orchestras have no real long-range program policy. They operate from week to week, from season to season, as if they were improving their whole program. If they get by in any one season they are happy. If they do not get by (if there is a deficit, that is), they are sad. But that is not the way the composer sees the problem. To him the problem exists even when any particular orchestra plays to full houses and has no deficit. What we must all do is to take a larger view. 



The audience, after all, is the central factor in this situation. What music the audience hears depends largely on those who control programming ― whether it be the conductor, the manager, the board of trustees, the ladies auxiliary committee, or whoever. Those responsible have the double task of satisfying the audience and providing a forward-looking, long-range program policy. But if we study typical programs today, what do we find? We find programs that are limited in scope, repetitious in content, and therefore unexciting. Present programming tends to stultify and mummify our musical public. Under such conditions we composers are strongly tempted to ask: What are you doing to our audience? Frankly, we have very little confidence when we bring out pieces before such audiences. Often we sense that the audience that listens to us is not the right audience for our music. Why? Because they have not been musically nurtured and fed properly, with a resultant vitamin lack of musical understanding. 



The key to a healthy orchestral future is now, as it always has been, the quality and balance of its program make-up. This has been pointed out many times, with little or no result. No other art shows a similar imbalance between old and new works presented. No other art attempts to live so exclusively on works of the past. This may provide a temporary solution but it builds to no future, for no live art can exist forever on a diet of past glories alone. 



The situation as it now exists is by no means a local one. It is also typical of what goes on in other countries. Recently the French composer Henri Dutilleux provided graphic illustration as to the deteriorating conditions in Parisian program making. He chose four famous French orchestras in Paris and compared the number of works by living French composers performed by these same orchestras in the month of January 1925, 1935, and 1955. Here is what he found: in January 1925, 31 works were played by living Frenchmen; in January 1935, 17 works; and in January 1955, only 4 works. 



We in America can supply analogous statistics. The New York Philharmonic Symphony Society has a better-than-average reputation as a purveyor of new works. And yet here is the record of works by living American composers performed during the four seasons 1950 - 51 through 1953 - 54 (Since the advent of the American conductor Leonard Bernstein as musical director, these figures have improved, but they remain true nevertheless for average American orchestra). 



Season: 1950 - 51   

Total number of works performed: 155   

Number of works by living Americans: 9 





1951- 52  




1952 - 53 




1953 - 54 




Despite the generally recognized rise in American creative vigor in the symphonic field, no comparable rise in the number of performances is discernible. On the contrary, statistics prove that we continue to drag our feet in a continuance of the status quo. The National Music Council has drawn up comparative figures that show the percentage of performed works by native American composers to have remained the same in two seasons fifteen years apart: 8 per cent in 1939, and 8 per cent in 1954, despite the fact that double the number of works were performed in 1954. More American music had been played, but the percentage of all works played had remained the same. 



American prides itself on progress. But these figures do not speak well for what is going on. Rather they indicate a shocking lack of live interest and civic pride in the accomplishments and future of our American music. The effect of all this on the developing composer is naturally very grave. A young composer simply cannot produce the best he is capable of in so unpromising an environment. In the last five years I can think of no single American composer under the age of thirty who has been nurtured or encouraged in the United States because of the efforts of one of our leading symphony orchestras. More and more our organizations are depending on well-known American names to fill out their quota of native music. Less and less are they seeking out and introducing completely unknown names of real promise. Unless our symphonic organizations take on this responsibility, they are not entirely fulfilling their cultural task. Worse still, they are obstructing the flowering of one of our most significant national assets, the gifted young composer. 



It seems to me that in doing little or nothing to stimulate new talent our symphony societies show surprisingly limited business acumen. If a commercial enterprise ran its affairs with so small a regard for its future welfare, stockholders would soon melt away. Most big firms invest funds with an eye to what their business is headed for ten years hence. Why shouldn't that attitude also apply in the symphonic field? Isn't it ironic that this apparent lack of planned interest in the future of our native school should come at a time when we have more composers writing works that are demonstrably better in quality than ever before in our musical history. 



An instructive comparison may be made by taking note of what transpires in recorded music as regards native composition. David Hall reports that we now have some five hundred works by American composers available on long-play records. I have always been astonished by the seeming unconcern of those in the concert field as to what goes on in the record market. Why shouldn't symphony management occasionally find out what people are buying in the record shops? These record buyers interest composers very much because they are making up their own minds as to what it is they prefer to hear. In the case of more than one recording I can report that despite excellent sales reports this clear show of interest was absolutely unreflected in the concert world. As long as the concert hall is unresponsive in this matter of listening tastes, people who buy records are not going to be persuaded to enter the concert hall. If this continues, a widening split will become increasingly evident between those who are content to listen passively at concerts and those who demonstrate a passionate interest in the music they want to hear. 



Here and now we cannot hope to do more than stimulate discusson of these vital matters. Perhaps I can summarize my thought by making a few specific suggestions: 

1. A system of checks and balances should be instituted so that each orchestra guarantee itself adequate variety in programs throughout a season chosen from differeint categories of the musical repertoire. 

2. Every concert should deliberately have an element challenging to an audience, so as to counteract conventional attitudes in music response. 

3. Seeking out and developing new talent in orchestral writing should be made a permanent feature of basic policy.