The Foundation for the Revival of Classical CultureBy Lynn J. Yen, Published on April 1, 2013
The Foundation for the Revival of Classical Culture has as its mission the reintroduction of Classical principles of musical, artistic, and scientific practice and performance to the everyday lives of American, and other, citizens, especially youth.
This will be accomplished by inspiring what is often erroneously called "the average citizen", to participate in forms of "Re-creation" that differ from mere "entertainment ". This includes self-performance of significant works of the Classical repertoire, instrumental and vocal, by amateur and semi-professional individuals and small groups, as well as the provision of performance spaces and contexts for practicing musicians to have the opportunity to perform, particularly for groups of young people with little to no prospect of ever hearing live Classical music, many of the most important musical ideas ever composed, in their required "chamber" setting.
Why Classical Music
We believe that the music of thinkers such as Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Verdi, Dvorak and many others, is the natural medium for developing the minds of young people, from the earliest years, through their late teens and twenties. It is the cognitive development of those who do not merely listen, but reproduce, both the performance and the composition of music, that results in a natural elevation of the moral character of the student.
This is dramatically proven in such as the El Sistema case in Venezuela. The over 300,000 youth that have participated in that program are multiplied a hundredfold in the audience, Venezuelan and otherwise, that has come to believe and appreciate that Beethoven and other Classical musicians wrote for them, the audience of the future, more than for the rich and mighty of their time. The mastery of a complex instrument, such as the oboe, violin, trumpet, or, indeed, the human voice itself, fortifies the natural intelligence that lies in every child, enabling him or her to share creativity with several, or many others, in rehearsals and performances devoted to the most energetic and transparent presentation of that quality of thought-emotion which is the essence and the engine of Classical composition.
We believe that it is possible to make a change in the lives of people, especially the young, for the better. This is done by demonstrating to hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands, in a relatively short period of time, that everyone, in principle, who knows how to speak a language, can also sing, and sing well. By demonstrating that neither poverty, nor unfamiliarity with repertoire, nor lack of language skills, need be construed as an excuse not to become familiar with the musical thoughts of some of the greatest minds in history, we free the student to not merely dream, but to know, that "nothing is impossible".
Why These Concerts
The Foundation For The Revival of Classical Culture is not a charity to help poor children. It is a commitment to rekindle what was done in 1890s America by Czech composer Antonin Dvorak through his leadership from 1892-95 of New Yorker Jeanette Thurber's National Conservatory of Music. That project intended to create what was referred to by Dvorak as "a great and noble school of music", of American musical composition and performance. Dvorak was himself a model of what he advocated, having mastered the essentials of the compositional method of Bach, and the advancements of that method by Hadyn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Dvorak then created musical works of his own, imbued with the distinct imprint of his Czech background, outlook, and sentiment.
The National Conservatory of Music was based in New York City. Dvorak lived in America for three years, working on the project, until Thurber could no longer personally provide the funds for the Conservatory to continue. While Jeanette Thurber successfully raised large private sums to initiate the project, Thurber and Dvorak had always intended that the United States government would establish such an institution, and they lobbied Congress on its behalf. It was only when he realized that there was no chance that this would happen, that Dvorak left the United States.
It is important to realize that the National Conservatory of Music was fully and equally integrated, with African-Americans and women, who attended, where necessary, free of charge. Dvorak and Thurber insisted on recruiting "the talented, but unwanted", those otherwise barred from almost every other institution of American musical higher learning, to perform and to compose music of the highest standard. As Dvorak himself wrote, in a February 1895 article in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, "when music has been established as one of the reigning arts of the land, another wreath of fame and glory will be added to this country which earned its name, the 'Land of Freedom', by unshackling its slaves at the price of her own blood".
Now, and largely through such efforts, "times have changed", and in many respects have improved-- but a more subtle form of "musical segregation" has supplanted the earlier one. Today, anyone (still, often, only with a small fortune) can study practically anywhere, and apparently anything--but what if the society itself, through the near abolition of the teaching of any music whatsoever, particularly in the public school system, no longer possesses any idea of what "Classical" music is, no knowledge of its practitioners and legacy, no hints of what Classical repertoire exists, and/or why it was composed? The purpose of the Foundation, is to revive the desire to discover what is being kept, through omission, from the mind, and the possession, of every young person in America, in the form of the "great and noble school of music" that once thrived in America, headquartered in New York City.
This is not the first time that this has happened in the history of Classical music.
Why did the 20-year old Felix Mendelssohn have to re-introduce the St. Matthew Passion in 1729 to Germany? Because Bach's music was suppressed--not that you couldn't find it absolutely anywhere, or that you would be shot if you played it, but because "Bach had fallen out of fashion". It was the work of Robert and Clara Schumann, Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn, and those that they recruited, including the young Johannes Brahms, that "drew a line in the sand" against the "new fashion" that Liszt, Wagner, the older Hector Berlioz and others, introduced into music--including the increasingly mind-destroying practice of "program music".
The Foundation will in particular attempt to destroy the myth that Classical music is "an old white man's game".
Young people should come to know the work of the 16-year old Franz Schubert, the 17-year old Mendelssohn, the 20-year old Brahms, the 23-year old Bach. They should hear about the 17-year old Beethoven improvising a theme suggested to him by Mozart, himself the most famous child prodigy in music, and Mozart saying: "watch out for that boy. One day he will give the world something to talk about". Composers Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann would also, we hope, appreciate these efforts.
The purpose of the Foundation is to ensure that any young person, that wishes to, can meet and embrace the true world of Classical music, and should be provided the means to make it his or her own.