Leonard Slatkin: Music in the 21st Century

Extracts from a talk to RPS Members at The Athenæum on 19 October 2000

“Music has always been a mixture of what already exists and what is being created at that moment - the music that will, in turn, become the sounds of the past. I believe people are always going to want contact with the live musical experience.”

“I hope audiences will approach concerts as they might a museum. Not with the consumer report mentality of comparing brands and values but as you might come to a piece of visual art.

You’ve seen it pictured in books, you’ve read the history and style of the artist and, suddenly, there it is! And it’s just you and the painting, one to one. That mental preparation and fresh approach changes your perception of that work, even though you think you know it inside out.

In music - unlike almost any other artform - we, the performers, act as middle men or interpreters, liaising between the composer and the listener. The more discerning the listener, the greater his or her comprehension of what were trying to do with that composers music.”

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Brian McMaster, advocate for the arts, former director, Edinburgh International Festival: presented with RPS Honorary Membership in 2009.


Richard Wagner was musical director of the 1855 Philharmonic Society Season and conducted all eight concerts.