The familiar old world of classical music, with its wealthy donors and ornate concert halls, is changing. The patronage of a wealthy few is being replaced by that of corporations, leading to new unions of classical music and contemporary capitalism. In Composing Capital, Marianna Ritchey lays bare the appropriation of classical music by the current neoliberal regime, arguing that artists, critics, and institutions have aligned themselves—and, by extension, classical music itself—with free-market ideology. More specifically, she demonstrates how classical music has lent its cachet to marketing schemes, tech firm-sponsored performances, and global corporate partnerships. As Ritchey shows, the neoliberalization of classical music has put music at the service of contemporary capitalism, blurring the line between creativity and entrepreneurship, and challenging us to imagine how a noncommodified musical practice might be possible in today’s world.
Musicians of Asian descent enjoy unprecedented prominence in concert halls, conservatories, and classical music performance competitions. In the first book on the subject, Mari Yoshihara looks into the reasons for this phenomenon, starting with her own experience of learning to play piano in Japan at the age of three. Yoshihara shows how a confluence of culture, politics and commerce after the war made classical music a staple in middle-class households, established Yamaha as the world's largest producer of pianos and gave the Suzuki method of music training an international clientele. Soon, talented musicians from Japan, China and South Korea were flocking to the United States to study and establish careers, and Asian American families were enrolling toddlers in music classes.
Against this historical backdrop, Yoshihara interviews Asian and Asian American musicians, such as Cho-Liang Lin, Margaret Leng Tan, Kent Nagano, who have taken various routes into classical music careers. They offer their views about the connections of race and culture and discuss whether the music is really as universal as many claim it to be. Their personal histories and Yoshihara's observations present a snapshot of today's dynamic and revived classical music scene.