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Traditions



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In every generation, people have predicted or proclaimed the death of classical music. This has happened since the beginning. Charles Rosen, the late pianist-scholar, remarked, “The death of classical music is perhaps its oldest continuing tradition.” Gary Graffman, the pianist and educator, once gave a speech called “Dead Again.” As so often before, classical music was being proclaimed dead. It just ain’t so.

Yes, yes. But, one day, might it be so? The boy will always cry wolf. But might there actually be a wolf, someday?

I think about this when thinking about American decline. Today, we have the third installment of my conversation with Michael Gove, the British intellectual and politician (secretary for education). He points out that, from the very beginning, Americans have wondered, “Are we in decline? Is the American experiment over?”

Yes, yes — we have heard it all before. But one day, might decline, or kaputness, come to pass?

This much, we know, I think: A free, democratic society must be fought for, every day. You can’t really put the thing on auto-pilot or cruise control. It won’t take care of itself. Collectivists and other spoilers are always at work. “A republic, if you can keep it” is still true.



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