The New York Times' Anne Midgette writes about the recent trend of well-known performers commissioning new works to perform. The trend, embraced by such luminaries as Dawn Upshaw (who has been doing it for years), Anne-Sophie Mutter, and Midori, can only be a good thing for composers and for the concert music world.

However, Ms. Midgette does mention those eternal banes of the composers' life, the revival, or the lack thereof, and perceptions about the audience:

Once the pieces are written and performed, many have short lives. Premieres attract media attention; revivals don't. If an artist doesn't take the time to learn a piece well for its premiere, it may not sound good enough to attract much interest. And because it is often assumed that audiences don't like modern music, presenters shy away from it.

Plus, there is the novelty of a premiere and the artistic prestige attached to having a piece written for you:

. . . there is a risk that a work commissioned by one artist can seem less attractive to others. It depends on the work, and the only way to know is to keep playing it.

Still, this is a positive development for our music. It should be encouraged.


  1. Google isn't helping me remember who right now, but some organization used to offer grants to ensembles specifically to give the second performance of a new work. It was AMC or Meet the Composer or some group like that. I thought it was a cool idea.

  2. I have a vague memory of such a program, too.