Gramophone's editor introduces the latest issue of the magazine
What constitutes fame for a classical musician? Within classical music there are many whose gifts make their new releases or concert-hall appearances eagerly awaited. We celebrate these artists every month in our pages, and every year at our Awards (on which note, there is still time to vote for our 2012 Artist of Year). But how many of these really cross into the consciousness of the wider world? There are those like Luciano Pavarotti, a superb tenor whose charismatic presence then attracted worldwide adoration as a stadium star. Or pianist Lang Lang, whose status as a figurehead for the exponential growth in Chinese music-making affords him pop-star status. And there are those like Glenn Gould, whose remarkable musicianship and bold challenging of conventions caught the zeitgeist and elevated him into a cultural figure of wide significance, earning him an iconic status that continues today, 80 years since his birth, 30 since his death. We’ve chosen to explore Gould in this month’s cover feature, talking to people who knew him, worked with him, or were inspired by him – to try to get beneath the image of the eccentric genius and find out what Gould the person was really like, and why he still matters.
Back to our list of the famous. Sir Simon Rattle is a conductor whose name is known among those who know little of classical music – his hugely successful stewardship of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra led to perhaps the world’s leading podium position, at the mighty Berlin Philharmonic. Ten years on, and the relationship is a fruitful one – as our recent reviews of the St Matthew Passion and completed Bruckner Ninth testify. We talk to him about projects past, present and future. And there’s Daniel Barenboim who, via his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, is a committed advocate for addressing cultural divisions – we review
their set of Beethoven Symphonies this issue.
Fame when pursued for its own sake is somewhat worthless. But when it comes as a reflection of genuine achievement, classical music owes it to itself to enjoy, but also to exploit, the opportunities that the spotlight brings with it.
For more information about the latest issue click here.
Martin Cullingford is editor of Gramophone - brought up in Britten country on the Suffolk coast, when not practising the guitar he can often be found enjoying Evensong.