In Response to: Breaking the Sound Barrier [6]

The article on graduate-student composer Caroline Shaw, the youngest person ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for music (cover story, June 1), represents a stupendous breakthrough in PAW’s editorial content.

The whole world of classical music has gradually been eroding, both from the competing sound-blasts of amplified trivia and from the distractions of the rapidly all-consuming media glut. My despair comes mainly from my enthusiasm for the music of past eras — Renaissance, baroque, classical, romantic — but I’m afraid the burgeoning cultural environment of listener ignorance will leave any potential audience in the dark for appreciating new musical references to the likes of Buxtehude, Chopin, Bach, or Verdi.

Now PAW’s revived cultural awareness has opened up the possibility of a different course. Some leading educational institution could form a coalition with a few business tycoons to create a breakthrough television series that would outline the history of the last 1,000 years of Western civilization. But the emphasis would be on music, rather than warfare, dynastic confrontations, royal intrigues, or religious/political bickering. Those would need to be sketched in, too, as well as advances in science, philosophy, and the arts, but the main thrust would be the relentless progression of great music.

In such an environment, our accomplished artists would find a more aware audience among which to operate. And who would be able to host the project through such a maze? Maybe an aspiring young musician already gifted with a historical perspective, who could submit the experience as her doctoral dissertation.