Thursday, August 18, 2016

The A La Carte polls

If you go to the Google Sites page Nereffid supplemental, you can see the results of several months' worth of polls I conducted on TalkClassical last year and this.
TC users (some of them, at any rate) like to produce "recommended lists" that rank favourite works; just recently I hosted the Pre-1700 Works list. But the way these are done requires that participants have to choose which work to favour over another, and there's often going to be a clash between what you personally prefer and what you think should be on a list (for example, there's the desire to spread things round, and not let one composer dominate). When the Post-1950 Works list started, I was somewhat troubled - first because the voting system was terrible and second because some participants stated clearly that post-1950 music of a certain sort was not welcome (ie, Shostakovich). Round about this time I also started to become more interested in the notion of the classical "canon" and how one might go about quantifying it.
So I hit on the notion of a basic poll, where the voter is faced with a list of works and must simply pick the ones they like; putting all the results together would effectively produce a "recommended list" but without the complication of any individual having to rank anything. One interesting aspect of this is that a work that gets plenty of votes is not only well-liked but also well-known. There would no doubt be many works that might be seen as canonical by a handful of people but to the wider listening public they would be unfamiliar - and post-1950 works are a prime example. My original notion was that the polls would each focus on a particular year, so that bit-by-bit I could produce a list to reveal which post-1950 works people really liked. After a couple of dozen polls I got the feeling that some voters just didn't bother participating if it was an era they had no interest in (it's a curious thing; I added the "I don't know any of these works" option to overcome this, but it doesn't seem to encourage everyone), so I switched to themed polls and then, not wishing to put so much intellectual effort in if it wasn't going to pay off, just randomized lists of works. I got past 200 polls but they appeared to be running out of steam so I called a halt; but that was over 2,600 works, with at least 30 people (usually quite a few more) offering an opinion on each one.
There are the inevitable quirks you get when the polling population is different for each poll, and certainly the TC population overall has a few quirks too, but the collated results are largely what one might expect. Back in February, when I passed 2,000 works, I started a discussion thread on the topic.
It turns out that, yes, Shostakovich does seem to dominate post-1950 music!
One of the most fascinating discoveries was that - bearing in mind that TalkClassical's active members are by definition people who are enthusiastic about classical music - only 20% of the works were liked by at least half of the voters. Bear in mind too that the polls covered practically all of the "canonical" works (I didn't get all Beethoven's piano sonatas in, for instance, but that's the highest level of omission I'm talking about). And only 5% of the works (130 of them) were liked by at least two-thirds of voters. And of those 130, 43 are by Beethoven and Mozart! So what on earth is the canon? Surely, for instance, La Traviata and Parsifal are part of it? Well, they were liked by about 42% of voters in the A la carte polls, putting them well below Mendelssohn's 1st string quartet, Prokofiev's Scythian Suite, Chopin's op.41 Mazurkas, Bach's Toccata in C minor BWV 911... Clearly, the canon can't be defined by votes alone, and there are numerous other factors involved (vocal works generally are less popular than orchestral music in the polls; and some composers are so popular that even when I invented a fake Bach cantata it got enough votes to put it in the top three-quarters of the overall rankings!). But still, the undeniable implication of the poll results is that a work that is considered canon may well be unliked or unknown by a majority of self-professed classical music enthusiasts.
This post has gone on for a bit; if I remain in a posting mood there'll be plenty more analysis and vague thoughts to come...

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A history of classical music in 64 names

I could list all the top 10 most-recorded composers born per decade since 1500, as discussed in the previous post, but that would be rather dull, I feel.
So instead here's the most-recorded composer born in each decade since 1400, plus a handful of earlier ones. Just because I can.

Warning: some birth dates are of course estimates!
11th century: Hildegard von Bingen
12th century: Perotin
13th century: Alfonso X, 'El Sabio'
14th century (first half): Guillaume de Machaut
14th century (second half): Guillaume Dufay
1400s: Gilles Binchois
1410s: Conrad Paumann
1420s: Johannes Ockeghem
1430s: Antoine Busnois
1440s: Alexander Agricola
1450s: Josquin Desprez
1460s: William Cornyshe
1470s: Clement Janequin
1480s: Ludwig Senfl
1490s: John Taverner
1500s: Thomas Tallis
1510s: Alonso Mudarra
1520s: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
1530s: Roland de Lassus
1540s: William Byrd
1550s: Giovanni Gabrieli
1560s: Claudio Monteverdi
1570s: Michael Praetorius
1580s: Girolamo Frescobaldi
1590s: Tarquinio Merula
1600s: Giacomo Carissimi
1610s: Johann Jakob Froberger
1620s: Johann Heinrich Schmelzer
1630s: Dietrich Buxtehude
1640s: Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber
1650s: Henry Purcell
1660s: Francois Couperin
1670s: Antonio Vivaldi
1680s: Johann Sebastian Bach
1690s: Giuseppe Tartini
1700s: Baldassare Galuppi
1710s: Christoph Willibald Gluck
1720s: Antonio Soler
1730s: Joseph Haydn
1740s: Luigi Boccherini
1750s: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
1760s: Luigi Cherubini
1770s: Ludwig van Beethoven
1780s: Carl Maria von Weber
1790s: Franz Schubert
1800s: Felix Mendelssohn
1810s: Giuseppe Verdi
1820s: Johann Strauss II
1830s: Johannes Brahms
1840s: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
1850s: Giacomo Puccini
1860s: Claude Debussy
1870s: Maurice Ravel
1880s: Igor Stravinsky
1890s: Sergey Prokofiev
1900s: Dmitri Shostakovich
1910s: Benjamin Britten
1920s: Astor Piazzolla (or, as noted in the previous post, Gyorgy Ligeti if you prefer!)
1930s: Arvo Pärt
1940s: John Rutter
1950s: James MacMillan
1960s: Lowell Liebermann
1970s: Eric Whitacre
1980s: Nico Muhly

Classical music goes up, classical music goes down

I've been messing about with the big database (well, spreadsheet) of composers that I first started to keep about a quarter-century ago. Turns out it really needed updating... Joaquin Rodrigo's death in 1999 hadn't been noted, for example!
A more recent addition to the spreadsheet was a column for the number of recordings of each composer's music on Arkiv. I've found this to be a handy pointer as to a composer's "significance" (maybe someday I'll write a proper post on my thoughts regarding "great composers" and popularity). It's not a perfect measure, because of course it depends on the number of recordings in stock at Arkiv at a given moment, not to mention on Arkiv's ability to tag everything correctly, and the fact that browsing versus searching can give slightly different results. But anyway, on a broad level it works fine.
So then it occurred to me, why not see who are the most-recorded composers of a given birth cohort, let's say each decade, which was a matter of a few minutes' work. Interesting results, if you're interested in ranked lists of similarly aged composers, but could they be used to tell a bigger picture? The graph above says yes. (Double-click to enlarge it)
Let's look at the blue line first, which uses the left-hand y axis. What I've done here is looked at the 10 most-recorded composers born in each decade, added up all their recordings, and divided by 10 (i.e., it's the average number of recordings for those 10 composers). You can see it bobs up and down a bit, and when you know when the best-known composers were born it starts to make a lot of sense. The huge peak for the 1680s corresponds to Bach and Handel (and Telemann and D Scarlatti); the 1750s and 1770s peaks are due to Mozart and Beethoven, respectively, the 1790s are Schubert and Rossini, and the even huger peak for the 1810s is for Verdi, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt and Wagner (in that order). It bounces a bit, more, then after the 1870s (Ravel and Rachmaninoff) it drops again but this time doesn't really recover; the 1920s represents the lowest point since the 1760s. Who are the two most-recorded composers born in the 1760s? Cherubini and Danzi. And the 1920s? Piazzolla and Ligeti (if you don't wan't to include Piazzolla because tangos aren't classical enough, then it's Ligeti and Malcolm Arnold). And the decline continues, with the most-recorded composers born in the 1960s being about as well-recorded as those born three or four centuries earlier. 
(Caveat, though I don't think it's significant enough to affect the general picture: the closer we get to the present day, the less likely it is that my composers database reflects the overall state of classical music; for instance, most of the 1980s-born composers in the database are those I'm interested in. The reason I don't think this is a problematic issue is that my data-gathering involved finding "significant" composers via Arkiv, so while I may have omitted hundreds of worthy contemporary composers, they're not people with a large number of recordings. Obviously, that number of recordings is an acceptable proxy is something we're taking as read, but it's not unreasonable to say that for younger composers it's not as relevant).
But the red line on the graph adds more depth to the picture. This one, which uses the right-hand y axis, is simply a count of the number of composers who have 30 or more recordings listed on Arkiv. The 30 is somewhat arbitrary, I grant, but there's no particular "correct" number, so let's go with that. It corresponds to over 700 composers, so it covers a lot of ground. For instance, the composers born in the 1500s who fall in that group are Tallis, Luis da Milan, Luis de Narvaez, Gombert, Morales, Tye, and Arcadelt (but not Juan Vasquez, Hans Neusiedler, or Girolamo Cavazzoni) - comprehensive enough, I think.
So what are the results here? A quite differently shaped graph. Aside from the peak in the 1680s (which includes, it must be noted, such non-household names as Loeillet and Heinichen), the graph trends upwards from the beginning of the 19th century all the way to the generation of the 1890s (from Prokofiev down to Leifs and Sorabji) and despite a drop holds itself steady up to and including the generation of the 1930s (from Pärt to the geographically coincident Tormis)... and then it drops, then drops again.
What's happening here is that, whereas the blue line shows that the top composers active from the beginning of the 20th century have been less well-recorded than their 19th-century predecessors, the red line shows that many more composers active in the 20th century have been recorded compared with the 19th century. Not too surprising, I hope: the "great" composers of the past loom large, and resemble the true planets as defined by the IAU in as much as they've cleared the neighbourhood around their orbit, whereas there still hasn't been a full reckoning of the composers of the recent past, and as for today's composers - who knows?
But is that the sole reason for the drop over the course of the 20th century? The decline is rather swift, after all. If we reconvene in 100 years time, how will the graph have changed? Will the 20th century now show a similar pattern to previous centuries, with a greater focus on a smaller number of composers? Or will the thing people call "classical music" still refer to the period between Bach and Shostakovich, with the rest as interesting but relatively unpopular outliers? Depends on how optimistic or pessimistic you are, or for that matter how much you care for (or about) new music.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Classical Intros on 8tracks

I suddenly developed a desire to produce single-composer samplers of about 90-100 minutes' duration and inflict them on the world in the form of 8tracks mixes. So far there's a couple each for Beethoven and Mozart, and also some for Bach, Schubert, Brahms, Debussy, Mahler and Sibelius. You can find them on my profile page. Those are the composers that informally top the list of favourite composers from my TalkClassical polls, of which I have said nothing on this blog. I really should do a set of posts on those polls, shouldn't I, but in the meantime some findings are here.

So far, after a few weeks, the 8tracks nixes haven't quite set the world on fire - not quite the right audience, really - but I'm intrigued to find that Mahler's had the most plays and likes (25 and 5, respectively). Are people specifically looking for Mahler, or was it the "symphony" tag that did it? I've added that tag to the unsuccessful Sibelius mix (1 play, 1 like!) to see if that makes a difference. More mixes to come, hopefully.

In a post about 20 months ago, I examined the success or otherwise of the mixes accompanying my (alas, currently dead-in-the-water) History of Classical Music through Recordings. It seems like a good idea to see where things stand now:

The October 2014 listens/likes in parentheses are followed by the July 2016 figures.
Part 1. Gregorian chant - (2,971 / 211) - 4,002 /250
Part 2. From chant to polyphony - (1,227 / 126) - 1,812 / 167
Part 3. Troubadours and trouvères - (464 / 56) - 771 / 76
Part 4. Troubadour influences - (243 / 27) - 328 / 38
Part 5. The 13th-century motet - (432 / 38) - 915 / 55
Part 6. Ars nova - (1,478 / 74) - 1,953 / 95
Part 7. Trecento Italy - (1,745 / 108) - 2,392 / 147
Part 8. Medieval England - (447 / 44) - 576 / 49
Part 9. The Burgundian school - (205 / 10) - 271 / 21
Part 10. Into the Renaissance (not done) - 1,015 / 38

The final mix has done well; again, maybe a tagging issue? Fascinating how parts 4 and 9 in particular have fared so poorly relative to the others.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Nereffid's Best Albums of 2015

My best-of-the-year list was a little slow making it to Music is Good, and then somehow I never got round to posting the "awards" equivalent on this blog. But here we are now.
Some 201 new albums went through my ears in 2015, and those listed below are my 5 favourites in each of 11 categories. I've marked with an asterisk any runner-up album that was good enough to make my top 30 for MiG.

"Concert Celeste"
Ensemble Obsidienne/Emmanuel Bonnardot

* "Armarium". Amarcord [Raumklang]
"Anne Boleyn's Songbook". Alamire [Obsidian]
"Flow my Tears". Iestyn Davies [Wigmore Hall]
"Il Trionfo di Dori". The King's Singers [Signum]

Bach: Harpsichord concertos
Andreas Staier; Freiburger Barockorchester
[Harmonia Mundi]

Valentini: Oddities & Trifles. Acronym [New Focus]
"Les Sauvages". Beatrice Martin [Cypres]
"French flute concertos". Frank Theuns; Les Buffardins [Accent]
Vivaldi: I Concerti dell'Addio. Fabio Biondi; Europa Galante [Glossa]

Schein: Musica boscareccia
United Continuo Ensemble
[Pan Classics]

Rameau: Castor et Pollux. Ensemble Pygmalion/Raphaël Pinchon [Harmonia Mundi]
Kuhnau: Sacred works, volume 1. Opella Musica; Camerata Lipsiensis/Gregor Meyer [CPO] 
"A Painted Tale". Nicholas Phan [Avie]
"Orfeo(s)". Sunhae Im; Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin [Harmonia Mundi] 

Peyko: Complete piano music, volume 2
Dmitry Korostelyov

* "Postcard from Heaven". Susan Allen [New World]
"Capriccioso". Antonio Meneses [Avie]
Grieg: Lyric Pieces. Stephen Hough [Hyperion]
Sibelius: The Ainola piano. Folke Grasbeck [BIS] 

Lilburn: Chamber music for strings
New Zealand String Quartet

"Cantante e Tranquillo". Keller Quartet [ECM New Series]
Ornstein: Chamber music. Marc-André Hamelin; Pacifica Quartet [Hyperion]
"The Franchomme Project". Louise Dubin et al [Delos]
Smetana: String quartets. Pavel Haas Quartet [Supraphon]

Haydn & Mozart: Concertos
Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen

* "Time Present and Time Past". Mahan Esfahani; Concerto Köln [Archiv]
* Vaughan Williams & MacMillan: Oboe concertos. Nicholas Daniel; Britten Sinfonia/James MacMillan [Harmonia Mundi]
Mozart: Horn concertos. Pip Eastop; Hanover Band/Anthony Halstead [Hyperion]
Kalliwoda: Violin concertos and overtures. Ariadne Daskalakis; Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens [CPO]

Bach arr. Sitkovetsky: Goldberg Variations
Britten Sinfonia/Thomas Gould
[Harmonia Mundi] 

* Wagenaar: Sinfonietta, etc. Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie/Antony Hermus [CPO]  
Fine: Orchestral works. Boston Modern Orchestra Project/Gil Rose [BMOP/sound]
"Suites and Overtures for the Radio". Orchester der Staatsoperette Dresden/Ernst Theis [CPO] 
Schnittke: Symphony no.3. Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski [Pentatone] 

"If the Owl Calls Again"
Christianne Stotijn et al

* "Yes!". Julie Fuchs; Orchestre National de Lille/Samuel Jean [Deutsche Grammophon]
Schubert: Poetisches Tagebuch. Christoph Prégardien; Julius Drake [Challenge]
"Green". Philippe Jaroussky; Jérôme Ducros; Quatuor Ebène [Erato]
"Fleurs". Carolyn Sampson; Joseph Middleton [BIS]

Messiaen: L'amour et la foi
Danish National Vocal Ensemble; Danish National Chamber Choir; Marcus Creed

* "The Tempest". La Tempête [Alpha]
* David: Le Désert. Accentus; Orchestre de Chambre de Paris/Laurence Equilbey [Naive] 
* "1865: Songs of Hope and Home". Anonymous 4; Bruce Molsky [Harmonia Mundi]
Schubert: Choral works for male voices, volume 1. Camerata Musica Limburg/Jan Schumacher [Genuin] 

"Field Recordings"
Bang On A Can All-Stars

* Vierk: Words Fail Me. various [New World]
* Adams: Absolute Jest; Grand Pianola Music. San Francisco Symphony/Michael Tilson Thomas [SFS]
* Glass: Etudes. Nicholas Horvath [Grand Piano]
* Dessner: Music for Wood and Strings. So Percussion [Brassland]

Lang: The Difficulty of Crossing a Field
Beverly O’Regan Thiele; Jay O. Sanders; Harlem String Quartet; Douglas Kinney Frost
* "Render". Roomful of Teeth [New Amsterdam]
* Karpman: Ask Your Mama. various; San Francisco Ballet Orchestra/George Manahan [Avie]
* Wolfe: Anthracite Fields. Trinity Wall Street Choir; Bang On A Can All-Stars [Cantaloupe]
* Pärt: Tintinnabuli. Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips [Gimell]

The big story this year is the triumph of new music. The plethora of asterisks above is one indicator, but in fact some 12 living-composer albums made it into my MiG top 30 (5 in the top 10), and David Lang's marvellous opera The Difficulty of Crossing a Field is my Album of the Year. I'm delighted to have finally found "my" new music; for years I'd been dutifully trying out the highest-placing releases in the Nereffid's Guide Awards without ever really being satisfied (some exceptions, of course). Once I started to follow my own instincts, the rewards increased, but the big breakthrough came in 2014 when I took a punt on John Luther Adams's Become Ocean and Wolfe's Steel Hammer (God, the agonising over whether, despite the apparently unpromising first movement, I should try it!) and then the floodgates opened once I attended the What? Wow! festival in March (a year ago now... and apparently there's no festival this year because all the arts money is being spent on 1916...). So 2015 saw me embrace post-minimalism with gusto - and a bunch of really good Philip Glass releases brought him back into my heart after too long feeling a bit dissatisfied with his more recent work (it turns out it was just me). 
The ironic thing is that I realised, while raiding the Cantaloupe back catalogue, that post-minimalism had been there all along in my collection, waiting. About 20 years ago I bought an Argo sampler called "Short Cuts" filled with new music; and one of the tracks - which I loved - was an excerpt from Michael Gordon's Yo Shakespeare. But I never followed up on it, or him. I finally heard the full piece last year! It's an intriguing "what if", but it's not like I regret the last two decades of classical listening. Perhaps the time just wasn't right, back then. After all, this year has thrown out a few other surprises in terms of things I didn't really think I'd ever have much interest in. Messiaen, for instance - I could never quite warm to him, but there he is, winning the Choral category. Or even to have two Mozart recordings in the Concerto category - a few years ago that might have seemed a bit too "safe" or even boring, but those Hyperion releases are a joy. So my tastes continue to evolve...
... and great musicians continue to release albums of great music...

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The best music of the past 20 years (says Q2)

Q2 Music's annual poll was different this year: previously, listeners have been asked to pick their favourite works from the last 100 years, but this time round the timeframe has been reduced to a more "new" 20 years. So farewell then, Music for 18 Musicians, which had come top for the last three years (The Rite of Spring won the inaugural poll).
Caroline Shaw. She won!
In fact, looking at last year's poll (which had 100 works rather than this year's 50), the highest now-eligible entry was John Luther Adams's Become Ocean, at #37. Six other post-1995 works appeared: the other John Adams's Dharma at Big Sur (#43), Thomas Adès's Asyla (#52), Caroline Shaw's Partita for 8 Voices (#53), David Lang's Little Match Girl Passion (#72), George Friedrich Haas's In Vain (#74), and Steve Reich's Double Sextet (#85). Other pieces had featured in previous years.
It's hard to know with any audience poll just how (a) large and (b) stable the voting population is. The latter can be answered by noting that the above seven works all appeared in this year's top thirteen. So either the list reflects the tastes of a tiny handful of people whose opinions haven't changed much, or (much more likely) it demonstrates that there are some definite crowd-pleasers that stand a chance of eventually becoming enshrined as classics.
You can see the countdown on Q2's site, but here it is as a count-up:

1. Caroline Shaw – Partita for 8 Voices (2012)
2. John Luther Adams – Become Ocean (2014)
3. Andrew Norman – Play (2013)
4. Anna Thorvaldsdottir – In the Light of Air (2014)
5. David Lang – Little Match Girl Passion (2008)
6. Donnacha Dennehy – Grá agus Bás (2011)
7. John Adams – Dharma at Big Sur (2006)
8. Thomas Ades – Asyla (1999)
9. Georg Friedrich Haas – In Vain (2000)
10. Meredith Monk – Songs of Ascension (2011)
11. Ann Southam – Simple Lines of Enquiry (2009)
12. Kaija Saariaho – Orion (2002)
13. Steve Reich – Double Sextet (2008)
14. George Benjamin – Written on Skin (2012)
15. Thomas Ades – Tevot (2010)
16. John Adams – On the Transmigration of Souls (2002)
17. Tristan Perich – Surface Image (2014)
18. Andrew Norman – The Companion Guide to Rome (2010)
19. Philip Glass – Songs and Poems for Solo Cello (2008)
20. Esa Pekka Salonen – Violin Concerto (2009)
21. Julia Wolfe – Anthracite Fields (2014)
22. David Lang – Love Fail (2012)
23. Peteris Vasks – String Quartet No. 4 (2003)
24. Gerard Grisey – Vortex Temporum (1996)
25. Jennifer Higdon – Violin Concerto (2008)
26. Osvaldo Golijov – La Pasión según San Marcos (2000)
27. John Luther Adams – The Wind in High Places (2015)
28. Michael Gordon – Decasia (2002)
29. Philip Glass – Suite from The Hours (2005)
30. Anna Thorvaldsdottir – Aeriality (2011)
31. Magnus Lindberg – Clarinet Concerto (2005)
32. Nico Muhly – Two Boys (2011)
33. Julia Wolfe – Steel Hammer (2009)
34. Ted Hearne – Law of Mosaics (2014)
35. Kaija Saariaho – D'om le vrai sens (2010)
36. Enno Poppe – Keilschrift (2006)
37. Missy Mazzoli – Vespers for a New Dark Age (2015)
38. Thomas Ades – Concentric Paths (2005)
39. Jefferson Friedman – String Quartet No. 2 (1999)
40. Hans Abrahamsen – Schnee (2008)
41. Sarah Kirkland Snider – Unremembered (2011)
42. Donnacha Dennehy – That the Night Come (2010)
43. Elliott Carter – Clarinet Concerto (1996)
44. Thomas Ades – Polaris (2010)
45. Osvaldo Golijov – Ayre (2005)
46. Jonny Greenwood – 48 Responses To Polymorphia (2012)
47. John Luther Adams – Dark Waves (2007)
48. Louis Andriessen – La Passione (2002)
49. Einojuhani Rautavaara – Harp Concerto (2000)
50. John Adams – Naive and Sentimental Music (1999)

It's a good list, isn't it? I know most of the pieces - although some rushed listening was necessary in the last few days. Voters could pick five works, and three of mine got in - Become Ocean, Grá agus Bás and Steel Hammer (the other two were Per Nørgård's 8th string quartet and David Lang's The Difficulty of Crossing a Field). It's especially pleasing that the very Irish Grá agus Bás has proved so popular. Do I have quibbles? Not really. I like some things more than others, naturally, but nothing makes me go "really?". Of course probably the most significant thing about the list is that it very much reflects Q2's "downtown" New York audience. I can imagine some modern-music fans scratching their heads, or even tearing their hair, at all the minimalism, post-minimalism, and post-classical, or whatever we're calling it.
Something else that caught my eye is how the Pulitzer Prize-winning works have done: the last three winners have been Anthracite Fields, Become Ocean, and Partita for 8 Voices - they came #21, #2, and #1, respectively. We also see the winners from 2010 (Higdon, #25), 2009 (Lang's Passion, #5), 2008 (Reich, #13), and 2003 (Adams's Transmigration, #16). On the broader polls of previous years, older Pulitzer winners didn't do well (Appalachian Spring being an exception) - but then, would (for example) Stephen Albert's first symphony ever stand a chance in a field that included Bartók, Shostakovich, et al?
So, can we make any sweeping statements about contemporary music? Not quite - the specificity of the Q2 audience precludes anything too general. But certainly "this kind of music" has an audience, not just on an Internet radio station - you can see it in various end-of-year lists, which in 2015 have welcomed the new works from Julia Wolfe, Sarah Kirkland Snider, John Luther Adams, Andrew Norman, and Anna Thorvaldsdottir. Oh - that reminds me of another interesting thing about Q2's list. Notice how three of the five names I just mentioned are women? Things are changing. Almost a quarter of the works on the Q2 list (12 of 50) are by women. Last year's poll with 100 works from 100 years had... two (Shaw's Partita and Meredith Monk's 1979 Dolmen Music). So there's your sweeping statement about contemporary music: the gender balance is much better.