Guns, Germs, Steel and Music?

A true gem of a thought that I can not resist periodically shows up on Orchestralist, the international forum for orchestra professionals. One such post recently came up that contained such good points that I am still mentally working my way through my own thoughts regarding the questions posed.

The author paraphrased Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs and Steel with a list of factors that may be the most important factors in whether an orchestra will present a new work:

  1. Is there an economic advantage to the orchestra for doing so? Will the new work make us money? Will we get grant moneys, film contracts or payment by the composer or patron?
  2. Will the orchestra gain prestige? Will the orchestra get recognition, be reviewed, be honored in doing the work, receive greater attention? Will their music department be honored? Will the teacher?
  3. Will the new work contribute to the the value of the present repertoire or detract from it? Will introducing yet more music into the market decrease the value of the present holy lexicon of works which is the stock and trade of the orchestral industry or put it out of demand?
  4. How immediately will these advantages be realized? Without investment—or as little as possible—will the orchestra be rewarded soon?

Why has this not become a major discussion among composers? Let’s get the ball rolling!

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