Letter: Beethoven can still bring music alive

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Sir: I was horrified to read an item by your Arts Correspondent ('Music board gives Beethoven a Grade C', 15 January) on the financial censorship being wielded by the Arts Council and its vassal regional boards on the choice of composers to be featured in classical music concerts. Under a new funding system it appears that programmes of music by Beethoven and his contemporaries will become financially non-viable, at least in the regions.

No doubt the formulators of this policy include many comfortable worthies of a certain age who have had ample opportunities in their lifetimes to hear live concerts of music by Beethoven, Brahms and their like. What they perhaps forget is that the audience for live classical concerts is a dynamic population - people dropping out through old age are constantly being replaced by emerging generations of young people for whom the experience of hearing live performances of music by these composers is a new and exciting one.

If such concerts become less available, more and more people will retire to their CDs and videos, and the potential new audience for the music the arts establishment wishes to promote will shrink.

For many young people, an enthusiasm for classical music begins with the thrill of hearing for the first time a live performance of the 1812 overture or Beethoven's 5th Symphony; much of the audience for contemporary works started from this point and gradually

developed a broader musical appreciation.

Clearly, it is important for support to be given to composers and performers of contemporary music, but this should be as well as, not instead of, support for performers of works from previous centuries.

Yours faithfully,



West Sussex

17 January